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Through the Public Health and Wellbeing Act (2008) all councils are required to prepare a Municipal Public Health and Wellbeing Plan (MPHWP) every four years, within 12 months of a council election. With council elections occurring in October 2024, now is the time to consider how to meet the requirements of the Act.

Historically, councils have developed a standalone MPHWP, however are able to seek an exemption by integrating health and wellbeing issues into the Council Plan. This is growing in popularity with 38 Victorian councils integrating health and wellbeing into their Council Plan, and 41 preparing stand-alone plans in 2021.  

The Department of Health identified key benefits and risks to integrate, which may be useful to consider.


  • Increased focus on public health and wellbeing across Council – which may increase and improve actions.
  • Strengthened alignment and coordination of planning and budgeting – which may optimise reach and resources (and also meets the strategic planning requirements of the Local Government Act).
  • Increased accountability for monitoring and reporting actions. 


  • Health and wellbeing activities being ‘diluted’ or losing detail.
  • Decreased engagement with health and wellbeing partners and stakeholders.
  • Not sustaining the focus on health and wellbeing.

Key Differences

A review was undertaken by the Municipal Association of Victoria to identify any key difference between stand-alone and integrated approaches. Overall only minor differences were observed:

  • Stand-alone plans were more likely to list local partners than Council Plans.
  • Stand-alone plans were slightly more likely to include priority groups than Council Plans.
  • Council Plans were more likely to include partnerships, priorities or strategies for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health and wellbeing.

In deciding whether to prepare a standalone MPHWP or an integrated MPHWP, councils need to weigh up the benefits and risks for their organisation as well as resource and time implications.

Conversation Co

Conversation Co proudly acknowledges and celebrates First Peoples of Australia and their ongoing strength in upholding some of the world's oldest living cultures. We acknowledge the Traditional Owners of the lands throughout what is now Victoria – where we live, conduct pop-ups, and engage with our communities – and pay our respects to their Elders, past and present. Conversation Co acknowledges First Peoples' sovereignty has never been ceded. The strength, resilience and pride of First Peoples, their cultures, communities and identities continue to grow and thrive today despite the impact of colonisation and ongoing experiences of racism.

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