Healthy choices tile

Healthy choices policy directive: focus on nutrition and quality for staff and visitors

August 9, 2021

The Victorian Government has published its new directive designed to increase the opportunity for staff and visitors in public health services to access healthy food and drink options.

The Healthy choices: policy directive for Victorian public health services, announced in April 2021, requires public health services to provide and promote healthier food and drinks in their in-house managed retail food outlets, all vending machines and all staff/visitor catering.

This policy directive is based on the existing Healthy choices: food and drink classification guide and policy guidelines for hospitals and health services, with a new requirement that high sugar (RED category) drinks are not provided or promoted.

There is a phased approach to staff engagement and implementation, with drinks targets to be met by 30 September 2022 and all targets to be met by 30 September 2023. Reporting on the types and numbers of retail food outlets, vending machines and catering, as well as annual reporting on policy targets, will be required from 2022-23.

The VHA has developed a summary of the targets and timeline.

The new policy does not apply to inpatient/resident menus; however, new nutrition and quality food standards for inpatient and residential aged care food service and paediatric patients are currently in development ahead of an anticipated early 2023 release.

 

Advice and support for the sector

The Healthy Eating Advisory Service (HEAS), supported by the Victorian Government, offers free tailored support to health services to implement the Healthy choices policy. Delivered by experienced nutritionists and dietitians at Nutrition Australia Vic Division, the HEAS can help health services to: take the steps to make healthy changes in your organisation; understand how to apply government policies and guidelines; train your cooks, chefs, food service and other key staff; discover healthier recipes, food ideas and other helpful resources; and provide healthier menus and products.

The VHA encourages members to continue to make healthy changes in your services through the implementation of this policy. We understand that services currently have a lot to contend with; however, with practical advice and support from HEAS we believe the Healthy choices targets can be achieved without placing significant administrative or financial burden on services.

 

Find out how other VHA members have implemented Healthy choices in services across the state:

Alfred Health sugary drink trials

Wimmera Health Care Group reduction of sugar-sweetened beverages

Northeast Health Wangaratta reduction of sugar-sweetened beverages

 

Please get in touch if you are interested in hearing more about the Healthy choices policy from the Department of Health or HEAS. Email vha@vha.org.au