How healthy is Victoria?


Contact for Quote

How healthy is Victoria?

Victorians have one of the highest life expectancies in Australiai, with more people exercising and less engaging in risky behaviours such as smokingii.Highlife expectancy is also due to early disease detection and higher cancer survival ratesiii.

The good news about the improving life expectancies of Victorians comes from the latest Victorian Health Monitor report. Yet despite these positive results, the incidence of cancer in the state is increasing. In 2006, more Victorians died from cancer (9,935 deaths) than from heart disease (7,506)iv.

A combination of poor lifestyle factors - such as smoking, excessive alcohol consumption and unhealthy eating habits - increase a person's risk of cancer. Based on Victoria's current health status, at least one in three people will develop cancer by the age of 75v.

Health snapshot

Victoria's population is growing and people are living longer compared to 10 years ago. In 2011, the state's population was 5.53 million people, an increase of 15% (0.7 million people) since 2001vi. During this period, Victoria experienced the third largest population growth of all states and territories in Australiavi.

In 2010, life expectancy for males was 80 years and 84.3 years for femalesi, increasing by 2.5 years and 1.6 years respectively in the 10-year period from 2001i. Following the Australian Capital Territory, Victorians have the second highest life expectancy in Australiai.

However, this increase in life expectancy comes at the same time as an increasing number of new cancer cases being diagnosed each yearvii. In 2006, the rates of cancer diagnoses were 572 per 100,000 males and 391 per 100,000 femalesvii.

According to the Cancer Council Victoria, heart diseases and cancer are responsible for more than half of all deaths in Victoriaiv. Survey data from the Chief Health Officer's report in 2010 shows that about one in five (21.8%) adults aged 65 years and over and about one in ten (9.6%) adults aged 55-64 years have been told by a doctor that they have heart diseasev.

Despite the increasing prevalence of stark health warning messages, the majority of smokers in Victoria are young adults.

Risky behaviour

Increasing prevalence of chronic illness (such as heart disease and cancer)is in part due to unhealthy lifestyle choices that include smoking, poor diet, and inactivity. Although a greater number of Victorians report undertaking more physical activity, data reveals that sedentary lifestyles are becoming more prevalent in younger generationsviii.

In 2008, more than 25% of the population reported they were spending over eight hours of the day sittingviii; the proportion of people reporting a daily sitting time of eight hours or more was highest in the 18-34 years age group (32%). Data also reveals that more young Victorians are smoking compared to the generations preceding them. In 2008, the proportion of daily smokers in the group aged 18-34 years was almost double the proportion in the 55-64 years age groupix.

On the other hand, risky drinking behaviours are more prevalent in older Victoriansx. In 2011-2012, 18% of the state drank alcohol at levels that put them at risk of long-term health problems, with the 55-64 years age group having the highest proportion of risky drinkersx. The long-term consequences of regular alcohol misuse include cirrhosis of the liver, heart and blood disorders, and cancerxi.

Like the rest of Australia, Victoria also has a growing overweight and obese population, which is attributed to a combination of unhealthy eating and some of the risky behaviours mentioned above. In 2011-2012, 62% of Victorians were either overweight or obese. If current obesity trends continue, mortality, disease and disability will increase, and ultimately reverse Victoria's healthy ageing trendxii.

Sedentary behaviours - watching TV and surfing the internet - are having significant impacts on our health.

Health system challenges

By 2022, Victoria's population is expected to reach 6.45 million peoplexiii. If current trends continue and a larger, ageing population combines with increasingly prevalent chronic health conditions, such as obesity, the state's health system could be under greater pressure.

Currently, health priorities include tackling the increasing prevalence of obesity, reducing smoking rates and unhealthy levels of alcohol consumption, as well as improving the mental health of Victorians. In addition to promoting preventative health measures, increasing the capacity and quality of hospital services is also pertinent to Victoria's health system.

The Victorian Health Priorities Framework 2012-2022 outlines seven priority areas for the development and operation of the Victorian health system. They include better adapting health services to the changing needs and lifestyles of Victorians, as well as strengthening preventative health strategiesxiv.


iAustralian Bureau of Statistics, 2012, State and Territory Statistical Indicators, 2012, http://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/abs@.nsf/Lookup/by+Subject/1367.0~2012~Main+Features~Life+Expectancy+at+Birth~3.16

iiDepartment of Health, 2012, Victorian Health Monitor Report, State Government of Victoria, http://docs.health.vic.gov.au/docs/doc/CC6A20C055B5AA75CA257A80001A7128/$FILE/VHM%20Report.pdf, p.179

iiiDepartment of Health, 2011, Your health: The Chief Health Officer’s report 2010, State Government Victoria, http://docs.health.vic.gov.au/docs/doc/81B851BB592977D0CA2578E1000061DF/$FILE/A4%20Your_health_The_CHO_report%202010_web.pdf, p.2

ivDepartment of Health, 2011, Your health: The Chief Health Officer’s report 2010, State Government Victoria, http://docs.health.vic.gov.au/docs/doc/81B851BB592977D0CA2578E1000061DF/$FILE/A4%20Your_health_The_CHO_report%202010_web.pdf, p.23

vDepartment of Health, 2011, Your health: The Chief Health Officer’s report 2010, State Government Victoria, http://docs.health.vic.gov.au/docs/doc/81B851BB592977D0CA2578E1000061DF/$FILE/A4%20Your_health_The_CHO_report%202010_web.pdf, p.1

viAustralian Bureau of Statistics, 2012, Regional Population Growth, Australia, 2011, http://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/abs@.nsf/Latestproducts/3218.0Main%20Features62011?opendocument&tabname=Summary&prodno=3218.0&issue=2011&num=&view=

viiDepartment of Health, 2011, Your health: The Chief Health Officer’s report 2010, State Government Victoria, http://docs.health.vic.gov.au/docs/doc/81B851BB592977D0CA2578E1000061DF/$FILE/A4%20Your_health_The_CHO_report%202010_web.pdf, p.22

viiiDepartment of Health, 2012, Victorian Health Monitor Report, State Government of Victoria, http://docs.health.vic.gov.au/docs/doc/CC6A20C055B5AA75CA257A80001A7128/$FILE/VHM%20Report.pdf, p.27

ixDepartment of Health, 2012, Victorian Health Monitor Report, State Government of Victoria, http://docs.health.vic.gov.au/docs/doc/CC6A20C055B5AA75CA257A80001A7128/$FILE/VHM%20Report.pdf, p.17

xAustralian Bureau of Statistics, 2012, Australian Health Survey: First Results, 2011-12, http://www.abs.gov.au/AUSSTATS/abs@.nsf/DetailsPage/4364.0.55.0012011-12?OpenDocument

xiDepartment of Health, 2011, Your health: The Chief Health Officer’s report 2010, State Government Victoria, http://docs.health.vic.gov.au/docs/doc/81B851BB592977D0CA2578E1000061DF/$FILE/A4%20Your_health_The_CHO_report%202010_web.pdf, p.91

xiiDepartment of Health, 2012, Victorian Health Monitor Report, State Government of Victoria, http://docs.health.vic.gov.au/docs/doc/CC6A20C055B5AA75CA257A80001A7128/$FILE/VHM%20Report.pdf, p.181

xiiiVictorian Healthcare Association, Victoria’s Health System, http://www.vha.org.au/victoria.html

xivDepartment of Health, 2011, Victorian Health Priorities Framework 2012–2022: Metropolitan Health Plan, State Government Victoria, http://www.doutta.org.au/files/Demographic/Victorian_health_priorities_framework_2012-2022_metro_health_plan.pdf, p.5