As a city for people, Melbourne will make health a priority. Improving the physical and mental health of our people is important, and we will give particular attention to those in our city who are disadvantaged and vulnerable.
Future Melbourne 2008


Reduction in health risks through reduced smoking and drug risks were commonly discussed. Detailed ideas were explored on the support and treatment for mental health sufferers. Improving public health through quality food availability and access to physical activity were also discussed.

There was overlap between this Priority and Priority 1.2. Inclusive Community.

Summary of ideas (total 111 Statements)

Reduction in smoking and drug use (31 Statements)

Many people stated that they would like to see a “smoke free” Melbourne, or similar. The reasons given were the health impacts on smokers and passive smokers, and the negative effects that cigarette butts have on keeping Melbourne clean and representative of ‘an eco-city’. There was discussion on the website conversations that included support for banning smoking, as well as questions over whether a ban could be practically enforced — and the fact that smokers will be able to remain as long as smoking is legal. Several people raised the issue of drugs, and their desire for them to be eradicated because of the harm they cause. This was one idea explaining what can be done.

Drug Free Melbourne -- Drug Prevention and Education for all. Educators apply for your free educators kit. We have the tools to safeguard our future generations from the onslaught of drugs. Through Education we can make the decision to live a drug-free life. Education materials are available to ensure your group (family) will flourish and prosper in the absence of mind altering drugs.

Health services (27 Statements)

Several people requested general improvements to the health system. These included the need for health care to be cheaper, greater investment in health infrastructure and also that health care should be prioritised in the future.

Mental health was a specific area that was focused on by several people. A discussion on the website conversations covered a few aspects of mental health conditions and treatment — and the issues surrounding it. A conversation was started by an idea that suggested that there should be a holistic approach to mental health treatment, including a hub that provides a broad range of services and extends into holistic/alternative treatments alongside counselling, physical activity classes, and upskilling in areas such as job search. The comments building on this idea criticised the current stigma around mental health and how it is inadequately treated compared to physical health; that the limit of 10 treatment sessions per year was inadequate. It was suggested that there should be alternative treatments for young people and there was support too for a holistic approach that explores more treatment avenues than the status quo.

A few alternative broad health treatment suggestions were made, including a health forest, and also an investigation of how arts can improve health. One suggestion was to demolish the Casino and build a hospital.

Food for health (24 Statements)

Having easy access to healthy food was seen as an important part of having a healthy community for a large number of people. Many statements talked about increasing access to healthy or fresh food options in the city. Examples of how this could be achieved included: reducing barriers to fresh food production, through reducing the cost of/cancelling the permits required to grow food; freeing up community spaces for food growing; and, operating fresh food markets in housing estates. This was one such statement.

Availability: that a sufficient quantity and quality of the required foods is available in the city. Access: that people have the physical, economic and social means to access the food that is available.

Some people proposed the idea that schools be the provider of healthy meals. A couple of people recommended caution in this approach though, preferring information directed at individual families regarding healthy food options; to reduce the risk of creating dependency on such an approach.

Some people wanted to see education on food security, and increased knowledge around food and nutrition. They saw this coming in the form of a task force, or food innovation hub, which would help develop public strategies to improve food security and resilience.

Physical activity for health (19 Statements)

People had many ideas regarding how to engage Melburnians in physical activity to achieve health outcomes. Many comments were about increasing the availability of swimmable water in the city. Brisbane and Copenhagen were used as examples of how this could be achieved. Several people wanted to see increased access to/an increase in the space for people to be active in the city via local parks and designated outdoor exercise spaces.

Open Spaces for Recreation -- I think Melbourne would benefit from more recreational facilities within the city. There are not enough free parks and sporting facilities for people to use. Melbourne is famous for its sport but I don't think there are enough opportunities to actually participate. This is important for people's health and would also provide more social opportunities to meet people.

Several people wanted to see an increase in the options available for people to be more active; suggestions included: yoga in parks; AFL Auskick at Docklands; and, the availability of recreation equipment for hire in parks, as in Adelaide. People generally saw the city as a good place to exercise, and that more opportunities to do so would benefit physical health and well-being.

General and other statements about health (9 Statements)

Several people made statements about the importance of general health and well-being to Melburnians. These statements generally referred to the health and well-being of the people being the key to a healthy community. One person stated that their objective was a reduction in the number of ‘pokie’ machines.

Human wellbeing is a key focus for Melbourne's people.