Healthy choices: policy directive for Victorian public health services

The Victorian Government has introduced the ‘Healthy choices: policy directive for Victorian public health services’ (the Policy directive).  

The Policy directive strengthens Victorian public health services as places that support the health and wellbeing of their staff and visitors. It requires services to ensure that healthier food and drinks are sold, provided and promoted across all of their sites and facilities.  

It covers in-house retail food outlets, all vending machines, all staff/visitor catering, and items purchased by staff and visitors from patient/resident menus. 










Video one: an overview of the Policy Directive for health service leadership











Video two: an overview of the Policy Directive for health promotion and implementation staff

Why has it been developed? 

Health services have a key leadership role in providing healthier food and drink options to support the health and wellbeing of their staff and visitors. 

The Policy directive is about increasing opportunity and choice for staff and visitors in public health services to access healthy food and drink options, and will help meet the Victorian Cancer Plan target of “at least 80 per cent of health services’ retail outlets and vending machines meeting Healthy Choices by 2024. 

Who does the policy apply to?

The Policy directive applies to all sites and facilities across public health services including, but not limited to: 

  • hospitals 
  • public sector residential aged care services (PSRACS) 
  • integrated community health services 

The Policy directive applies to the following food services within public health services:  

  • in-house retail food outlets, including items purchased by staff and visitors from patient/resident menus
  • all vending machines (managed in-house and privately) 
  • all catering provided to visitors and staff

Victorian public health services are encouraged to implement the Healthy choices: policy guidelines for hospitals and health services and the Policy directive across all of their retail food outlets – both in-house and privately managed. 

What is changing?

The Policy directive is based on the existingHealthy choices: food and drink classification guide and policy guidelines for hospitals and health servicesfor food, with a new requirement for sugary (or RED category) drinks not to be sold, provided or promoted in any in-house managed retail food outlets, all vending and all catering. It is now a Department of Health policy that Victorian public health services implement the Healthy choices Policy directive for in-house managed food retail, all vending and all staff/visitor catering, rather than being voluntary guidelines.  

  • Food: Public health services will be required to meet the relevant Healthy Choices guidelines for food, meeting the targets of at least 50% GREEN food and no more than 20% RED foods for in-house retail food outlets and all vending. 
  • Drinks: Public health services will be required to meet the Policy directive with no sugary (or RED category) drinks to be sold or promoted in in-house retail food outlets and all vending. No more than 20% drinks containing artificial or intense sweeteners (classified AMBER) are to be available. At least 50% GREEN drinks to be provided in all vending and in-house food retail outlets.  
  • Catering: Public health services will be required to meet the existing Healthy choices: healthy eating policy and catering guide for workplaces – that is no RED foods/drinks to be provided and at least 50% GREEN foods/drinks. 

Visit FoodChecker to determine the classification of foods and drinks. 

For more information on sugary drinks click here.

For more information on vending plan-o-grams to meet the Policy click here.


The Policy directive will be phased in over two years with staggered requirements for drinks and food. 

Required date Target
30 September 2022 Drinks: 
Vending and in-house retail food outlets: No RED drinks to be available, or promoted/advertised. At least 50% GREEN drinks, and no more than 20% drinks containing artificial or intense sweeteners (classified AMBER) are available.  
Catering: No RED drinks are provided (with majority of options to be GREEN). 
30 September 2023 Food: 
Vending, in-house food retail food outlets and internal food provision: At least 50% GREEN foods and no more than 20% RED foods are available. No RED foods to be promoted/advertised. 
Catering: No RED foods are provided (with majority of options to be GREEN). 

Monitoring and reporting

Public health services will be required to report information to the Department of Health.

Key dates:

  1. Early 2022 provide information on the numbers and details of in-house retail food outlets, vending machines and catering.
  2. From 2022 health services are required to undertake an annual assessment of their vending, in-house retail food outlets and catering using FoodChecker.
  3. 30 September 2022 and 2023 health services are required to submit to the Department of Health a report (including FoodChecker assessments) on meeting the components of the Policy directive.

The Department of Health will provide health services with further information on monitoring and reporting requirements.


HEAS are the experts in supporting health services to understand and implement the Healthy Choices guidelines and Policy directive.

We can help your organisation to meet the Policy directive with free expert coaching and advice, resources and menu assessment and training tools, and can provide direct support to your food service providers.

Get started – click here

For more information