The main aim of this research program is to contribute to healthy and resilient individuals and communities. We do this by enhancing social engagement and impacting behaviour, social change, and policy changes.

The Healthy and Inclusive Communities research program addresses these questions:

  • How, why and to what extent do physical activity, sport and culture shape individuals, communities and society?
  • How can physical activity, psychological, educational, health, sporting and cultural interventions lead to positive changes for individuals, communities and society?

In total, the research program has five research groups with more than 20 staff and 40 higher-degree research students.

Our research interests

We undertake a range of integrated and complementary projects across our diverse research groups.

Our interdisciplinary projects are designed to meet the following aims:

  • Conduct community-based research and action into forms of symbolic and structural violence, its impacts, and individual and group responses to overcome and prevent it. Approaches include participatory and creative methodologies, partnering with communities to address issues pertinent to them.
  • Examine equity, inclusion and exclusion in sport, physical activity and physical education contexts. Methods include ethnography, interviews, surveys, focus groups and observations, and policy, media, and archival analysis.
  • Increase the understanding of public-health aspects of physical activity and sedentary behaviour – and design, implement and evaluate interventions to promote active living.
  • Investigate sport and recreation participation, facilities and health for evidence-based decision making across the sport and recreation sector.
  • Measure, understand and promote physical activity to optimise mental wellbeing and positive body image/body satisfaction, and to prevent and treat mental illness. Research is conducted using observational (descriptive and correlational) and experimental (interventions and clinical trials) studies and systematic reviews, with a focus on implementation and translation into practice.

VU researcher Alex Parker investigates the effectiveness of integrating physical activity into clinical care for young people with depression.

Partners, funders & collaborators

  • University of Canberra, Canberra
  • University of Melbourne – Centre for Youth Mental Health, Melbourne
  • University of South Australia – Alliance for Research in Exercise Nutrition and Activity (ARENA), Sansom Institute, Adelaide
  • University of Southern Queensland - Physically Active Lifestyles Research Group (USQ PALs), Institute for Resilient Regions, Brisbane
  • University of Sydney – Prevention Research Collaboration, Charles Perkins Centre, Sydney

  • Auckland University of Technology Department – Physical Activity, Nutrition, and the Outdoors, Human Potential Centre, New Zealand
  • London South Bank University, UK
  • Universidad del Rosario, Colombia
  • University of Nottingham, UK
  • University of Witwatersrand, South Africa
  • University of Zagreb – Faculty of Kinesiology, Croatia

  • CoHealth, Australia
  • Cochrane Work Review Group, Finnish Institute for Occupational Health, Finland
  • headspace, The National Youth Mental Health Foundation, Australia
  • Orygen, The National Centre of Excellence in Youth Mental Health, Australia
  • Sport and Recreation Victoria, Australia
  • UKK Institute for Health Promotion Research, Finland
  • VicHealth, Australia