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Healthy Communities - Healthy Eating

Why is healthy eating important? 

Most Australians understand why it’s important to eat a healthy well-balanced diet. Healthy eating can prevent the development of obesity and the chronic diseases associated with it. More recently we have also begun to understand the positive impact that healthy eating can have on our mental health.

What are we doing? 

The Healthy Communities team understands that the food decisions we make are not just down to individual choices. There is a range of different factors which can impact our diets such as the affordability and availability of fresh fruit, vegetables and drinking water.

Our team aims to address all of the barriers which prevent people from eating a healthy well-balanced diet. We work to improve Healthy Eating in the following areas:

Healthier Eating

Vic Kids Eat Well (VKEW) 

VKEW image

Vic Kids Eat Well is an exciting Victoria-wide movement

We are proud to support the Vic Kids Eat Well initiative, the exciting new state-wide movement that’s focused on boosting healthy food and drink options in the places children spend their time, including schools, outside school hours care, sports clubs, recreation facilities, council operated facilities and more.

Vic Kids Eat Well provides clear, simple and achievable steps to making healthy food and drink options available and includes four key actions:

  • Refresh the fridge – give sugary drinks the boot and let water take the spotlight
  • Switch up the snacks – ditch the sweets and offer delicious healthy snacks that give kids the fuel they need
  • Change up the menu – give fruit and veggies a chance to shine
  • Put the ‘fun’ into fundraising and marketing – add health appeal to meal deals and fundraising

By harnessing the power of community and taking these simple steps together, we can create change to give all kids across Victoria the healthy start they deserve.


Vic Kids Eat Well is supported by the Victorian Government, and is delivered by Cancer Council Victoria’s Achievement Program, in partnership with Nutrition Australia’s Healthy Eating Advisory Service.

To learn more about the program or to sign your school up please check out the Vic Kids Eat Well site.

Early Learning Centres (ELC) Menu Review Support

The Healthy Communities Team is proudly working with our local Early Learning Centres to implement a new program that aims to accelerate implementation of the Victorian menu planning guidelines for long day care services. This will be achieved through coordinating local engagement and building capacity of early learning centres within the City of Greater Geelong, with the support of the Healthy Eating Advisory Service (HEAS).

Increasing Healthy Retail food and drink options Barwon Health in 2022-23

At Barwon Health, we want everyone who purchases something to eat or drink from the cafes and vending machines to have plenty of tasty and wholesome food and drink options. Whether you’re a staff member, patient or visitor – we want to contribute to you feeling fueled so you can give your best to your patients, family, team, and of course to yourself!

The Healthy Communities Unit have been working in collaboration with Food Services to bring tastier and healthier food to our staff, patients and visitors.

Actions we are taking in 2022:

  • Easy to follow labelling on our food and drinks
  • Working together with cafeteria staff
  • Highlighting great food for you and the planet
  • Menu refresh
  • Joining the vision for healthier food and drinks in Public Health venues across Victoria

To make it easier for people to buy healthier and tastier options, we are rearranging our café displays and hitting refresh on our menus. We are giving you more energy-lifting, mood-boosting and good-for-the-planet options by introducing menu items like colourful hot meals, fresh smoothies and custom sandwiches.

What is the Healthy Choices Policy Directive and why is Barwon Health working on these in 2022-23?

Our actions are aligned with a state-wide effort to switch to healthier food and drink options for all Victorian Public Health retail sites with some important targets set by the Victorian Department of Health. We are proud to bring these standards to life at Barwon Health. You can learn more by following this link.

Why do we use a Traffic light labelling system on our menus and displays?

The Victorian Department of Health, with support from Nutrition Australia, have developed a system that suggests which foods to enjoy regularly, moderately and which foods to eat only sometimes. At Barwon Health we have tagged and labelled food on our shelves and menus with these colours to highlight the items we know will make you feel energised and still taste great.  

HE HC 2022 Traffic light infographic for website Healthy Eating 1000 750px

You can learn more about the traffic light system and what the colours mean by clicking on the link.

In 2014, we applied the Healthy Choices at our Barwon Health University Hospital Geelong and the McKellar Centre. We labelled all the food and drinks in the cafes and vending machines according to their nutritional value.

In 2017, we took our exciting results and made these infographics.

Choose Water Every Day 


As part of the G21 Health and Wellbeing Pillar’s commitment to encouraging regular physical activity and healthier eating priority, the working group have committed to a collective group action focusing on increasing water and reducing sugar sweetened beverages (SSB) consumption in the G21 Region.

The ‘Choose Water This Summer’ campaign has been updated to ‘Choose Water Every Day’ and is a collaboration between G21, five local government areas, Colac Otway Shire, Golden Plains Shire, City of Greater Geelong, Borough of Queenscliffe and Surf Coast Shire, local health services, including Barwon Health, Bellarine Community Health, Hesse Health, Colac Area Health and other partners, Barwon Water.

Why is water the best drink for good health?

Water is the best choice for keeping the body hydrated. It has no added sugar and no kilojoules, so is much better for your teeth and the waistline. Soft drinks are highly acidic and this, along with high levels of added sugar, can damage teeth and lead to tooth decay.

Drinking soft drinks and other drinks with added sugar, can lead to putting on excess weight or becoming obese, and this may increase the risk of developing type 2 diabetes, heart disease and some cancers (ABS 2014). 

Keeping the body hydrated is essential for good health. Dehydration can lead to feelings of tiredness, thirst, weakness, lethargy, the senses become weak and psychological reaction times will be impaired. 

Water is the best choice for hydration and therefore swapping sugary drinks for water can help to improve health and wellbeing for everyone (WHO 2015).

How can you support this campaign?

The Choose Water team have developed resources that can be accessed here. Please post, print and display where appropriate and use the hashtag #CHOOSEWATEREVERYDAY

For more information on Sugary Drinks go to: 

Increasing vegetable consumption

The Healthy Communities team are currently planning with other organisations to increase vegetable consumption across our region. We also work in this area with our Community Kitchens program. See more about the Community Kitchens program here. 

Promoting veggies: a quick reference guide to inspire your community to eat more veggies

If you are wanting to encourage your community to eat more vegetables this guide is for you. The purpose of the guide is to help you find trusted messages to promote vegetable intake with your community and show how you can write your own. You can download the guide below.

Vege messaging guide

Related Links

1 Healthy Choices ICON   


Last Modified: Wednesday, 21 June 2023