Halpern, D. Behavioural insights and healthier lives – VicHealth’s inaugural Leading Thinkers residency

Recommended reading

David Halpern

Release date:
April 2016

The Behavioural Insights Team and VicHealth

In a number of areas, notably smoking cessation, Australia can be seen as having led the world. Victoria, specifically, was early to act on advertising of tobacco in sport and arts; its punchy and emotive public health adverts are famous the world over. Most recently it has led the way on plain packaging, with other countries (including the UK) strongly influenced by the evidence and discussion that has followed. In 2010, the newly elected UK government also did something innovative: it created a team dedicated to applying more realistic models of human behaviour into the heart of policymaking. The Behavioural Insights Team (BIT), or 'Nudge Unit' as it was widely nicknamed, was not exclusively focused on public health, but this did form a major focus of its work from the outset. After some discussions, it was agreed that BIT would work with VicHealth, an Australian health institution, on a range of issues, though with a special focus on obesity – a growing problem across the globe. This short report gives a glimpse into what happened, which learning experiences were shared between both organizations and what the implications might be for public health and Victoria going forward.

The report contains the following sections:

  • Changing challenges
  • Behavioural insights and health
  • Expanding experimentation in Victoria
  • Trials in action
  • BI approaches to healthier, happier lives
  • Who’s at the helm?
  • Conclusion

Link to publication