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The Prevention Lab Project - promoting better health in the Central Highlands


Following the Central Highlands’ first Assembly in 2016, health and improving the long-term health outcomes of those living in the region became a top priority for the Partnership.

The Partnership took that message to the Victorian Government and in Budget 2017/18, the Partnership was allocated $150,000 for the development of a business case for an innovative 'Prevention Lab.'

Over the past 12 months, the Regional Partnership’s Health Working Group has been working with Government and local agencies to identify key opportunities and leverage points for action.

The concept of a Prevention Lab was canvased with over 200 attendees at the second Regional Assembly in August 2017 and was well received.

What is the Prevention Lab and what impacts will it have?

The idea of the Prevention Lab is to bring together a diverse group of influential stakeholders to design, then conduct health prevention initiatives that they can then learn from together and then apply across the region.

The lab will provide a creative, innovative and safe environment to explore and develop a range of significant actions, all focused on forcing systemic change, prevention at scale, community activation and collective effort.

It will build and leverage off existing health and wellbeing work and momentum in the region
and aims to change culture from within, in the communities of the Central Highlands.

The Lab will aim to produce:

  • Improved practice – for example, we may take existing success and work out how to do it even better, for longer periods, with more people and at scale;
  • Improved local policy design;
  • New or improved prevention initiatives;
  • New investment and models for sustainable investment in health prevention;
  • Stronger community engagement, leadership, and ownership.

The Central Highlands Regional Partnership, working together with the Victorian Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), Regional Development Victoria (RDV) and Ballarat Community Health, has now engaged consultants Health Futures Australia (HFA) to design and support the implementation of the Central Highlands Prevention Lab for and with the communities of the region.

Over the coming months, HFA – working with the community – will explore understandings of the current system influencing physical activity and diet in Central Highlands and the potential for change.

Community leaders and members of the wider community will be engaged through a series of interviews and workshops, as well as a synthesis, feedback and reflection process, to make sense of the local system influencing health and identify leverage points to allow maximum impact moving forward.

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