The Victorian Population Health Survey was first undertaken in 2001 and is an important component of population health surveillance that provides an annual assessment of the health status and wellbeing of adults in Victoria. The information collected in the annual survey is used to inform to inform policymaking, planning, reporting, and evaluation by a wide range of stakeholders across Victoria.

Changes to the 2020 survey

In January 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic reached Australia, requiring a significant public health response to mitigate its spread and impact. In response, the annual Victorian Population Health Survey (VPHS) in 2020 was co-opted to provide critical information to inform the public health response. To make room for the collection of this new information, many of the standard questions normally asked in the survey had to be temporarily removed or modified. The questions that were removed, or modified, to allow for the pandemic relevant questions, relate to:

  • Physical activity (modified)
  • Alcohol consumption (modified)
  • Fruit and vegetable consumption (modified)
  • Sugar-sweetened beverage consumption (excluded)
  • Snack food consumption (excluded)

While compliance with physical activity, alcohol, fruit and vegetable consumption guidelines were not directly assessed, three questions were included to assess whether physical activity levels, alcohol consumption, and fruit and vegetable intake had changed in response to the disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

These dashboards focus on all data from the 2020 VPHS, with the exception of the data related to COVID-19 specific questions. Data from COVID-19 specific questions will be the subject of future reports, scheduled for development later in 2021.

Reporting at Local Government Area level

Every three years, the VPHS is undertaken at an enhanced sample size to enable detailed reporting at the local government area (LGA) level. As a result of the changes outlined above, measures that were altered or removed during the 2020 survey will not be available at the LGA level, until the next LGA level survey, anticipated for 2023. However, estimates by LGA reported in the 2017 survey can be used in the interim.

As many estimates from the VPHS 2020 were impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, the results need to be interpreted with caution, and may not be suitable for use as a baseline measure for planned interventions or as a comparator for surveillance purposes.

Further updates to this information product

Based on feedback, the information contained on this page has been further refined to provide three views of estimates for LGAs:

  1. All indicator estimates for a particular LGA
  2. Estimates for all LGAs for a particular indicator and
  3. Estimates for all LGAS aggregated in a particular DHHS area and DHHS division.

In addition, we have included a tab with the concordance of LGAs with DHHS areas and divisions. We hope you find these helpful.As always, we welcome your feedback on our reporting products via [email protected].

Summary of key findings

Mental Health

  • The proportion of adults who experienced high or very high levels of psychological distress significantly increased from 18.1% in 2019 to 23.4% in 2020. This was significantly higher in the younger age groups—35.0% of adults aged 18-24 years and 27.8% of adults aged 25-34 years.
  • A significantly higher proportion of adults who lived in rural Victoria (30.7%) in 2020 reported very high levels of satisfaction with life, compared with adults who lived in metropolitan Victoria (25.5%).
  • 1.1% of Victorian adults had ever been diagnosed by a doctor with bipolar disorder (first time question asked).
  • 0.6% of Victorian adults had ever been diagnosed by a doctor with schizophrenia. (first time question asked).

Other health indicators

  • The proportion of adults who were able to raise $2,000 within 2 days in an emergency, significantly declined from 87.5% in 2017 to 81.4% in 2020, indicating a rise in poverty.
  • Proportion of smokers did not change between 2015 and 2020
    • Proportion of adults who smoked daily was significantly higher among adults who lived in rural Victoria (14.1%), compared with those who lived in metropolitan Victoria (11.5%).
  • 21.1% of Victorian adults were obese according to their body mass index (BMI). o Obesity increased significantly in women over the period 2015-2020, from 18.1% in 2015 to 20.9% in 2020.
    • Obesity was significantly higher among adults who reside in rural Victoria (27.6%), compared with those who lived in metropolitan Victoria (18.9%).
  • The proportion of people who definitely agreed that multiculturalism made life in their area better significantly increased between 2017 and 2020, from 53.4% in 2017 to 63.3% in 2020.
  • 3.4% of men and 3.8% of women had ever been diagnosed by a doctor with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) (first time question asked)

For more information, or to speak to VAHI’s Population Health Insight Unit, please email [email protected]


VPHS 2020 dashboard
2020 VPHS Dashboard_FINAL (FILE, 5,733.48KB) Last update: 16 February 2022