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Strategies and plans

Population Health Catchment Plan

The Western Public Health Unit (WPHU) has released its inaugural Population Health Catchment Plan, outlining a coordinated approach to tackling some of central and western Melbourne’s biggest health challenges, to help keep the local community well.

Through consultation with local partners and community and a comprehensive analysis of available data, WPHU has assessed the opportunities to improve public health in the eight local government areas (LGAs) that comprise our catchment, and identified agreed priorities to improve health and reduce inequalities.

WPHU serves a diverse, young and rapidly expanding population. Some of the LGAs in WPHU have more than doubled over the past 15 years and are expected to grow by another 40 per cent between 2020 and 2030. More than 44 per cent of people in the catchment speak a language other than English at home. Pockets of socio-economic disadvantage exist across the catchment in all LGAs.

The catchment has high levels of avoidable chronic conditions like coronary heart disease, diabetes, tooth decay and cancers, and associated higher rates of premature mortality, as well as low rates of participation in cancer screening programs. Significant scope exists to improve risk factors within the population: only 3.2 per cent of adults consume sufficient fruit and vegetables; rates of smoking are higher than the Victorian average in 4 out of 8 LGAs and smoking during pregnancy is a significant problem in areas of socio-economic disadvantage.

Based on health needs of the population, the following three health priorities hold the greatest potential for initial action: improving food systems and healthier eating; reducing vaping and tobacco-related harm; and tackling climate change and its impact on health. These health priorities are directly connected to preventing avoidable chronic diseases, are especially relevant to the population of our catchment, and are well suited to a focus on primary prevention.

WPHU uses a collective impact model, bringing together partners to align resources, skills and knowledge for the achievement of catchment priorities. These collective efforts are supported through a formalised partnership structure – the WPHU Population and Preventive Health Network. The network is composed of a Population and Preventive Health Reference Committee and three Action Groups dedicated to the initial health priorities. The Action Groups are open to all catchment stakeholders and provide a dedicated space to share insights and evidence-based initiatives, co-design interventions and boost collective action across the catchment.

WPHU thanks all contributors – local government, community health services, regional and state stakeholders and communities – for their valuable input into the catchment plan.

Our Population Health Catchment Plan

Full version

Executive Summary

More information on population health at WPHU

Climate change and its impact on health

The impact of climate change extends beyond environmental changes – it presents significant challenges to our health, wellbeing and safety. The Western Public Health Unit has identified climate change and its impact on health as one of three population health priorities for our catchment.

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Healthier eating and food systems

Poor nutrition affects 95% of people living in the Western Public Health Unit catchment. A strong and equitable food system is central for promoting health and is vital to support healthier everyday eating. The Western Public Health Unit has identified healthier eating and food systems as one of three population health priorities for our catchment.

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Vaping and tobacco-related harm

Tobacco and vaping related harm is a re-emerging population health issue. While smoking rates have substantially reduced in recent decades, growth in e-cigarette use presents a significant challenge. The Western Public Health Unit has identified vaping and tobacco-related harm as one of three population health priorities for our catchment.

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Community Engagement

The Western Public Health Unit Community Engagement team proactively works with community leaders, networks and partners to understand emerging health issues and to work together to find appropriate ways to provide support.

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Sexual and reproductive health

The Western Public Health Unit works with key stakeholders in Melbourne’s central and western suburbs to deliver positive sexual health change to our communities and to strengthen health systems within our catchment.

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