New report shines a light on the health of Melbourne’s north and west

  23 June 2022  NWMPHN

The health of the 1.9 million residents across Melbourne’s northern and western suburbs has been described in a detailed new report by North Western Melbourne Primary Health Network (NWMPHN).

The recently completed report, called the 2022-2025 Health Needs Assessment (HNA), comprises a wealth of research and data drawn from several sources, plus information gathered through interviews, workshops and surveys of community members, general practice, commissioned services, peak bodies, community health, acute health care and local government.

NWMPHN CEO Christopher Carter.

“As part of our commitment to continually improve primary health care in our region, NWMPHN undertakes regular evidence-based assessments to identify gaps and opportunities in health and service needs,” said NWMPHN chief executive officer, Christopher Carter.

“This provides a strong foundation for improving access to tailored care to meet the needs of our communities.”

The HNA uses a social determinants of health framework to analyse difference in health status across the region, which comprises 13 Local Government Areas (LGA) and stretches from the CBD to peri-urban communities around Bacchus Marsh and Gisborne. It considers the social contexts within which people live, as well as their experience of accessing health care services. Not surprisingly, the results reveal many differences.

Using the nationally recognised Index of Relative Socio-economic Disadvantage, which combines factors including income, employment and education, the report includes a ranking of disadvantage for each LGA. The lower the index number, the more disadvantage.

For comparison, Australia’s overall ranking is 1000 and Victoria’s is 1010. The lowest scores in the north and west were Brimbank (921), Hume (947), Melton (994( and Maribyrnong (995). Inner-city LGAs, such as Melbourne, Yarra and Moonee Ponds scored higher except for small pockets of really deep and persistent disadvantage, with rankings below 400.

On some measures, the region appears to be doing slight better than Victoria as a whole. For instance, 57.6% of people in the NWMPHN region reported living with at least one chronic disease, which is slightly below the Victorian average of 59.1%. And 26% had two or more chronic conditions – again slightly below the Victorian average of 27.5%.

Approximately 28% of people aged 18 or over have been diagnosed with anxiety or depression. The Victorian average is 30%.

“The HNA is a big part of the evidence base that helps decide where and how we fund, design and deliver extra primary care services,” said Christopher Carter.

“Not only does it reveal that there are populations within our region who are doing it tough, it shows where we and our health partners can best deploy resources to ensure the people who most need help can access it.”

“We will continue to build on this report and update as refreshed and new data becomes available.” 

A summary of the Health Needs Assessment is available here (.pdf). 

The full report is available to download here.