Given that the multilateral and global partnerships were already challenged due to scarce financial resources, trade tensions, technological obstacles and lack of data, the pandemic has added an unprecedented shock to the global system.
– United Nations

We partner with business, government, community and key stakeholders in our heartland, the west of Melbourne – and as far away as Timor-Leste – to develop opportunities for our students and expand the reach of innovative research. Our partnerships have a shared purpose and create mutually beneficial outcomes that have real, lasting impact in the communities we serve.

In 2021, a new network of research and innovation hubs connect research, education, government, industry partners and the community with the specific aim of creating a future that aligns with the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.

Partnerships also inform our teaching and learning, and we are dedicated to the idea of a 'flipped campus', with at least one industry partner based at each of our campuses.

17 Partnerships for the goals (5 intersecting rings icon)

Research projects & engagement 2020-21

Research with impact

VU’s Research Strategy is centred on planetary health as the central concept in VU’s commitment to the UN Sustainable Development Goals. In the development of the strategy, the importance of place and co-design with partners in the community, industry and government was foregrounded to anchor VU’s research in solutions for sustainable development.

The Centre of Policy Studies (CoPS) provides modelling for governments around the world to determine the economic impacts of planned initiatives or social and environmental events. In 2021 applications of CoPS’ models (particularly the Victoria University Regional Model (VURM)) was used to examine impacts of global warming including:

  • for Upside and Downside Risks of Climate Change for the NSW Treasury by Phillip Adams
  • Covid-19, Energy and Climate Change for the Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources again by Philip Adams in conjunction with Frontier Economics
  • The Tasmanian government used CoPS modelling by Philip Adams to inform the adoption of a zero emissions policy. The modelling showed the impact of the roll-out, of the best-fit emissions opportunities for Tasmania’s real gross state product overall, and for industry specific employment, and industry output.
  • The U.S. Department of Homeland Security contracted CoPS through the Centre of Excellence for Accelerating Operational Efficiency at Arizona State University to provide estimates of the cost to the U.S. economy of increased dropout rates from high school from difficulty staying in school due to Covid impacts.

VU researchers collaborate with academics and organisations around the world to identify the challenges and solutions for people’s advancement.

Professor Corrine Reid and a team of researchers from around the world worked with more 200 researchers from over 30 countries and 60 disciplines to develop a toolkit to support global researchers to navigate the ethical challenges of undertaking global challenge-led research. A downloadable pocket guide is available in 11 languages.

Professor Željko Pedišić worked with researchers from across the globe on a series of publications to inform national policy development for promoting a healthy level of physical activity. High levels of sedentary behaviour are a leading contributor to rising rates of chronic, non-communicable diseases (NCDs) around the world. Central to this work was his contribution to the GOPA 2nd Physical Activity Almanac. Global Observatory for Physical Activity (GOPA) is an organisation for researchers, epidemiologists, public health policy makers and practitioners to produce and analyse reliable, high quality and current global data, information and knowledge on physical activity and health. Željko Pedišić with other GOPA members produced the 2nd Almanac of 164 country cards for all physical activity research, policy and monitoring worldwide – a global coverage of 75.6%. The purpose of the Almanac is to assist countries to determine their needs and improve standardised date collection, systems, policy and research.

Further to this work for national policy development, Professor Pedišić contributed to several chapters in the book Physical Activity in Low- and Middle-Income Countries (LMIC):

  • The Global physical activity chapter summarises the evidence on: the health outcomes of PA; PA prevalence, surveillance, policy, and research globally, with a specific focus on LMICs; advising on advocacy for PA; and improving efforts to promote PA in LMICs.
  • Physical activity surveillance in the context of low- and middle-income countries seeks to address the lack of a well-developed PA surveillance system in most LMICs. International frameworks for NCD and behavioral risk factor surveillance provided by the World Health Organization can help to improve national PA surveillance to address the growing burden of NCDs in LMICs.
  • The chapter on Physical activity policy actions examines issues for policy development, but also provides a physical activity (PA) policy toolbox for LMIC (useful resources for policy planning). The chapter examines how LMIC can adapt the World Health Organisations Global Action Plan on Physical Activity 2018-2030 for the eight best investments to develop a feasible PA plan.

In Plan Globally and Act Locally for Physical Activity? Željko Pedišić and an international team of researchers reviewed global progress towards implementing plans to promote physical activity (PA). The researchers observe that health ministries are having difficulty tackling a problem where the main influences are in other sectors, such as urban planning and education, requiring better partnering to improve implementation of PA policies and programs.

Associate Professor Deborah Zion is a member of the World Health Organisation Committee of Ethics, Public Health and Migration. Dr Zion joined 24 researchers from Oceania, Europe, North and South America to establish the incidence of stroke in Indigenous populations in developed countries. Whilst the health and socio-economic disadvantage of Indigenous people is well established, data on the incidence of stroke is scarce.


Professor Anthony Zulli was a co-first author together with Martin Caprnda of The therapeutic effect of B-type natriuretic peptides in acute decompensated heart failure, to review the clinical data on B-type natriuretic peptides (BNP) for the treatment of acute heart failure. Despite the potential for BNP to treat renal failure, several clinical trials of the treatment have failed to demonstrate beneficial outcomes. The review of the clinical data, funded by the Czech Science Foundation, was to establish a detailed understanding of the mechanism of BNP and a better integration of basic and clinical science, involved a team of seventeen researchers from: Slovakia, Australia, United Kingdom, Norway, Romania, Lithuania, Czech Republic and Canada.

The Mitchell Institute released the national policy blueprint Self-Care For Health. The policy blueprint presents nine priorities to support self-care and improve the underlying factors linked to disparate health outcomes for well resourced versus disadvantaged communities. The report launched by the Federal Minister for Health, Honourable Greg Hunt MP, was developed by seven expert working groups developed the blueprint, involving researchers and authorities from Australian and international universities and government and non-government health organisations, including the World Health Organization.

Professor Vasso Apostolopoulos collaborated with an international team of researchers for The potential application of probiotics and prebiotics for the prevention and treatment of COVID-19.

Professors Željko Pedišić and Stuart Biddle joined with five other researchers from five countries to review National physical activity and sedentary behaviour policies in 76 countries: availability, comprehensiveness, implementation, and effectiveness.

Closer to home, Professor Pedišić was a contributing author to the Getting Australia Active III policy report to the Australian Department of Health. The report was prepared by The Australian Prevention Partnership Centre, a national collaboration of researchers, policy makers and practitioners who are working together to identify new ways of understanding what works and what doesn’t to prevent lifestyle-related chronic health problems in Australia.

A team of seven researchers from IHES – Tawar Qaradakhi, Laura Kate Gadanec, Kristen Renee McSweeney, Alexander Tacey, Vasso Apostolopoulos, Itamar Levinger and Anthony Zulli – collaborated with researchers from Slovakia, Canada, Spain and the Czech Republic to establish the potential for the use of angiotensin-converting enzyme II (ACE2) activator diminazene aceturate (DIZE) in the treatment of cardiovascular, cancer, diabetes and other chronic diseases.


The strategic plan outlines our aim for campus precincts connected with ethical industry partners and meeting the challenges of surrounding communities, through embedding partners on campus.

The Investing in Health and Human Capital research team, led by Professor Bruce Rasmussen, partnered with the researchers from NGOs for interventions to protect the wellbeing of children and adolescents. The team partnered with the Public Health Foundation of India, to produce a report for the UN Populations Fund on Evaluating interventions to reduce child marriage in India. The team further partnered with the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute, a charity dedicated to research into children's health, to identify the measures needed to reduce road injuries to children and adolescents for the FIA foundation.

Dr Rezual Begg is working with the University of Tsukuba and CyberDyne in Japan to optimise the HAL Exoskeleton Joint Control. The HAL (Hybrid Assistive Limb) technology, developed by CyberDyne, uses the impaired person’s residual muscle activation signals) to control the motor-driven exoskeleton for limb movement. Dr Begg will contribute his innovative ‘smart’ joint-controls to tailor HAL to individual patients, drawing on VU’s expertise in machine learning and gait biomechanics.

People with serious mental illnesses die between 14 and 23 years earlier than other Australians, mostly due to preventable chronic diseases. The Being Equally Well Roadmap, published by the Mitchell Institute, recommends improvements to the Australian health system to close the health gap of people with serious mental illnesses. The Roadmap developed by the Australian Health Policy Collaboration, involved 60 Australian health experts, and was written in consultation with doctors and mental-health consumers and carers. The Roadmap was launched by the Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt. The Mitchell Institute conducted seven roundtables involving university and medical experts, NGOs and members of state government Mental Health Commissions, and state and national Health Departments to inform the implementation plan.

The Victoria University Business School and Institute for Sustainable Industries and Liveable Cities hosted the Environment, Social and Governance (ESG) for Sustainability virtual conference. The conference brought together government representatives, non-government organisations and researchers from around the world to present ideas and solutions for the attainment of the UN sustainable development goals.

VU has a long standing relationship to support Timor-Leste’s national development. In 2021 VU joined the Universidade Nacional Timor Lorosa’e (UNTL) in holding a biennial conference Higher Education adapting to the COVID era to tackle the challenges presented by moving to an online learning environment.

VU Vollies Volunteering Program provides students with volunteering opportunities on campus and in the local community throughout the year. The Vollies assist in the delivery of various events in the local community such as West Projections, One Night in Footscray and AFL Clinics. During 2020 VU Vollies studentsshared their stories from lockdown to encourage, support and inspire each other through a long and challenging winter.

V4U Day is Victoria University’s biggest community volunteering event of the year, where staff, students and alumni take part in activities over a full day. In 2020 V4U Day was held remotely due to lockdowns with volunteers working in virtual groups to make, entertain, connect and plan to benefit community groups across Melbourne’s west.


Victoria University’s graduate capabilities aims to ensure that every student will contribute to a more equitable and sustainable world by developing:

The ability to work inclusively in settings of social and cultural diversity and to act responsibly as a worker, citizen and learner to build sustainable futures for self and others.

Australia’s first Graduate Certificate in Planetary Health responds to demands for environmental, economic and social sustainability. The planetary health units are also available to students in other postgraduate courses for learning on a holistic approach to sustainable practices.

The Bachelor of Business seeks to develop students to be responsible global citizens apply social, sustainable, economic and cultural perspectives in making ethical and responsible business decisions. The core unit of Ethics and Sustainability takes a multi-disciplinary approach to analyse and investigate the UN Sustainable Development Goals to explore the opportunities and challenges for business.

The VU Extra Transcript shows students’ extracurricular activities, such as completion of leadership workshops or undertaking student leadership roles, and voluntary work in approved programs. The VU Extra voluntary programs consist of a variety of community development, diversity and sustainability programs of work in which students can contribute to a more sustainable world, learn leadership skills, and have fun.

Two Indian children running on a dirt road, with vehicles in the background

The Investing in Health and Human Capital research team, led by Professor Bruce Rasmussen, partnered with the researchers from NGOs for interventions to protect the wellbeing of children and adolescents, including researching road safety. 

Sustainability on campus

This focus and commitment extends to a wider university endeavour for planetary health and sustainability in all our functions, in the development of the Sustainability Initiatives to ensure campus operations and investments are carbon neutral by 2025, and in the Campus Master Plan for campus precincts connected with ethical industry partners and meeting the challenges of surrounding communities.

Programs addressing Goal 17