Human health and wellbeing depends on the health and wellbeing of the planet.

Public health challenges at an individual and community level are being tackled by our research teams with our local communities.

Learn more about these projects below.

We measure our projects against the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) – a framework of 17 common aims for improving the health of our planet and its people.


COVID-19 & Australian youth

Title: Investigating youth voice and action amidst the COVID-19 pandemic
Researchers: Alison Baker, Amy Quayle, Julie White
Partners: YACVic, YLab

This project investigates the challenges faced by people aged 18–25 during the COVID-19 pandemic. It will explore the impact of the pandemic, and develop strategies and structures to ensure young-adult voices are heard.

SDG: 3 Good Health & Wellbeing


Drugs to control COVID-19

Title: Anti-viral drugs for the control of COVID-19
Researchers: Vasso Apostolopoulos, John Orbell

The opportunity to accelerate the availability of safe and effective medicines for people suffering from COVID-19 could exist in currently available drugs. This project will work to identify drugs that are currently on the market that could be used as effective therapies for those diagnosed with the virus.

SDG: 3 Good Health & Wellbeing

Planetary Health in Outdoor Education

Title: Together we grow: Professional Learning Groups for outdoor educators to create the planetary health warriors of the future
Researchers: Kara Dadswell, Alex Parker, Zali Yager, Michaela Pascoe, Nina Van Dyke, Claire Brown
Partners: Outdoor Education Group (OEG)

Outdoor education can be life changing. Young people, schools and communities can benefit from introducing Planetary Health Passion Projects into this education. This project incorporates the design-thinking process into professional-learning programs. It helps camp educators to deliver a workshop where students can develop their passion projects.

SDGs: 10 Reduced Inequalities | 11 Sustainable Cities & Communities

Supporting diverse communities

Title: Capacity building for diverse communities: what works?
Researchers: Kathy Laster, Professor Clare Hanlon, Dr Elliot Flowers, Dr Nicole Oke

The Sir Zelman Cowen Centre (SZCC) applies a strengths-based approach to working with culturally and linguistically diverse communities to increase their understanding of the Australian legal system. This project contextualises the SZCC community capacity-building model on sustainable community-development practices to explore the role such practices play in efforts to create sustainable institutions.

SDGs: 5 Gender Equality | 10 Reduce Inequalities | 16 Peace, Justice & Strong Institutions

Phone support for vulnerable populations

Title: Staying connected during a global pandemic: telephone support for vulnerable populations
Researchers: Annie Venville, Tina Kostecki, Wendy Rollins
Partners: Brimbank City Council, Growing Brimbank Collaboration, La Trobe University

This project will investigate how telephone support may mitigate feelings of fear, loneliness and isolation in vulnerable populations during a global pandemic. It will develop a model of sustainable support services to increase social connection during times of crisis.

SDGs: 3 Good Health & Wellbeing | 10 Reduced Inequalities | 16 Peace, Justice & Strong Institutions


Exercise & age

Title: Exercise as a tool to identify novel biomarkers for healthy ageing
Researchers: Itamar Levinger, Mary Woessner, Cassandra Smith, Alexander Tacey, Nir Eynon
Partners: Professor Gustavo Duque, Associate Professor Joshua Lewis

Exercise can prevent or delay age-related muscle-mass loss, and reduce the burden of disease in older populations. This project will identify the levels of circulating osteoglycin (OGN) across the adult lifespan. It will uncover the acute effects of exercise on OGN levels, and the association with glucose control in both young and old adults.

SDGs: 3 Good Health & Wellbeing | 5 Gender Equality

Muscular health & diet

Title: Muscular Health and the EAT-Lancet Planetary Health diet
Research team: Alan Hayes, Helen McCarthy, Emma Rybalka
Partners: Uniting AgeWell

The EAT-Lancet diet brought together 37 world-leading scientists. They created the first full scientific review of what constitutes a healthy diet from a sustainable food-system perspective. This project will assess whether the EAT-Lancet diet aligns with healthy maintenance of skeletal muscle mass and function.

SDGs: 3 Good Health & Well Being | 12 Responsible Consumption & Production

Sons of the West participants

Sons of the West wellbeing program

Title: Partnering with Sons of the West for place-based wellbeing interventions
Researchers: Jenny Sharples, Kim Shearson, Monika Naslund, Michelle Ball, Peter Baldwin, Gavin Ivey, Daniel Loton, Glen Hosking, Alana Howells, Carolina Aguirre, Fiona Bailey, Lisa Johnson
Partner: Sons of the West, Western Bulldogs Community Foundation

The Sons of the West is a place-based program that promotes health and wellbeing. The participants are mostly middle-aged older men who, due to various life circumstances, are socially isolated and at risk of becoming disenfranchised. This project will examine learnings from the program to inform approaches to community-led responses to change.

SDGs: 3 Good Health & Well Being | 10 Reduced Inequalities | 17 Partnership for the Goals

VU Staff Wellbeing

Title: Rapid implementation of daily, synchronous (‘live’), brief online intervention promoting physical and mental wellbeing for Victoria University staff and students during the COVID-19 pandemic
Research team: Alex Parker, Melinda Craike, Michaela Pascoe, Jenny Sharples, Peter Baldwin, Warwick Hosking, Itamar Levinger, Monika Naslund , Christopher Sonn, Maximilian de Courten, Vasso Apostolopoulos, Sarah Dash

This project will establish a virtual community to promote physical and mental wellbeing for VU staff during COVID-19. It will provide a sense of community and social connection during a time of rapid change, stress and self-isolation.

SDGs: 3 Good Health & Wellbeing | 17 Peace, Justice & Strong Institutions


Supporting International Students

Title: Identifying the key factors for supporting international students' positive wellbeing
Partnerships: Study Melbourne, West Justice, Victorian Chinese Student & Scholars Association, Australian Federation of International Students, VU International Student Association
Researchers: Catherine Lou, Tim Corney

This project will work with isolated onshore international students to identify mental health and wellbeing issues. It will raise awareness and expand knowledge through an education campaign and early-intervention and support mechanisms.

SDGs: 3 Good Health & Wellbeing | 11 Sustainable Cities & Communities