Victorian Health Promotion Foundation (VicHealth)

VicHealth, established by the Victorian Parliament as part of the Tobacco Act 1987, was the first health promotion foundation in the world. It is based in Victoria in the Commonwealth of Australia. VicHealth is a statutory body with an independent chair and board of governance that reports to the Victorian Minister for Health and to the State Parliament. The Board is constituent-based, drawing from the sports, health, law, business, arts, and communication/media sectors. The Board also has three serving Members of Parliament, that reflect the composition of the Victoria Parliament. Currently there is one Member representing each of the State Government, the Opposition and the cross-bench. 

VicHealth was the first health promotion foundation in the world.

The multi-party representation on the VicHealth Board has been and continues to be one of its key strengths. The elected representatives drawn from multiple parliamentary parties, together with high profile members with diverse expertise and backgrounds, have been vital to the organization’s credibility, profile and success in reaching all segments of the Victorian community. 

For its first 10 years (until 1997), VicHealth was funded by a dedicated (or ‘hypothecated’) tax. The Victorian State Government applied a levy of 5% on top of existing state tobacco fees. The fund was dedicated to the Victorian Health Promotion Fund, and the Fund was administered by VicHealth. 

In 1997, the High Court of Australia ruled tobacco hypothecation unconstitutional at the state level. Since this time, VicHealth’s annual funding has been determined by the Victorian government and is allocated out of general consolidated revenue through the Victorian State Government’s annual budget process. It receives an annual fund of approximately AUD 41.3 million. Additionally, VicHealth periodically receives special funding from various Government agencies to deliver specific programmes and campaigns.

VicHealth focuses on promoting good health and preventing chronic disease. Its work includes creating and funding world-class interventions; conducting vital research to advance Victoria’s population health; producing and supporting public campaigns to promote a healthier Victoria; and providing transformational expertise and insights to government. Above all it seeks to make health gains among Victorians by pre-empting and targeting improvements in health across our population, fostered within the day-to-day spaces where people spend their time, and with benefits to be enjoyed by all.

VicHealth’s Action Agenda for Health Promotion (2013-2023) focuses on five strategic imperatives with associated goals and three-year priorities. Those strategic imperatives are:

  • promoting healthy eating
  • encouraging regular physical activity
  • preventing tobacco use
  • preventing harm from alcohol
  • improving mental wellbeing.

Across all of its imperatives, VicHealth aims to improve health and wellbeing by reducing health inequities and addressing the social determinants of health.

VicHealth works with all levels of government, across political parties and communities, and a range of sectors across health, sport and active recreation, research, education, the arts, planning and built environment, workplaces, industry, community food, local communities and media. It was designated as a World Health Organization Collaborating Centre for Leadership in Health Promotion in 2014, with a focus on building the capacity of existing and new health promotion organisations in the Western Pacific Region.  

A Chief Executive Officer leads the organisation with support from five executive managers, each in charge of a functional area: systems change for children and young people’s health and wellbeing, social marketing and communications, policy and research, human resources (people and culture), and corporate support. There is an additional small team that also directly supports the Chief Executive Officer. 

In accordance with the Tobacco Act, thirty percent (30%) of VicHealth’s budget must be spent on sporting bodies. VicHealth’s activities include small grants funding for community-based initiatives as well as long-term multi-million-dollar funding for programmes such as Quit Victoria (tobacco control and smoking cessation programme), investments in public health research and capacity building activity.

VicHealth has played a very active role in sharing information about its model of health promotion, internationally advocating for the use of dedicated taxes to fund health promotion and tobacco control along with sharing its experiences on working across settings, sectors and population groups to achieve positive health and wellbeing outcomes for all.


Tobacco Act 1987 (Vic) (Austl.). 

Victorian Health Promotion Foundation (VicHealth). ‘What we do’. Available at:

Victorian Health Promotion Foundation (VicHealth). ‘Our history’. Available at:  

Victorian Health Promotion Foundation (VicHealth). ‘Who we are’. Available at: 

Victorian Health Promotion Foundation (VicHealth). Annual Report 2019–20. Melbourne Australia, 2020.

Victorian Health Promotion Foundation (VicHealth). The Story of VicHealth: A World First In Health Promotion. Melbourne Australia, 2005.

Victorian Health Promotion Foundation (VicHealth). VicHealth Action Agenda for Health Promotion 2019–23. Melbourne Australia, 2019.

Related reports

World Health Organization. (2004). The establishment and use of dedicated taxes for health. World Health Organization Regional Office for the Western Pacific.

Vathesatogkit P, Yen Lian T, Ritthipakdee B. (2013). Health Promotion: Sustainable Financing and Governance. Bangkok, Thai Health Promotion Foundation (ThaiHealth). 

World Health Organization. (2016). Earmarked tobacco taxes: lessons learnt from nine countries. Geneva, World Health Organization.

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