Cancer Council Victoria receives two prestigious public health grants

Tuesday 6 March, 2012

Cancer Council Victoria is pleased to announce it has been awarded two preventive health research grants worth almost $750,000 from the Australian National Preventive Health Agency (ANPHA), to help prevent the harm caused by obesity and tobacco.

A team led by Dr Helen Dixon from Cancer Council Victoria's Centre for Behavioural Research in Cancer has been awarded $348,093 for a two-year study that seeks to identify how best to use mass media to promote healthy diet, weight and activity to Australians.

Dr Dixon said the findings from her research, to be conducted in collaboration with the Cancer Institute NSW, will inform recommendations for successful mass media campaigns promoting healthy weight, physical activity and healthy eating.

"We know from previous work on public health issues like smoking and sun protection that mass media campaigns can be very effective in changing population health behaviour," she said. "However, we have very little evidence about the characteristics of effective media campaigns on obesity prevention."

"These are really important issues to address, since overweight and obesity affect many children and adults in our community, placing them at increased risk of Type II Diabetes, cardiovascular disease and a number of types of cancer."

The second grant will provide almost $390,000 towards a collaborative research project between the Melbourne Law School and Cancer Council Victoria's McCabe Centre for Law and Cancer, to explore the impact of international trade and investment law on cancer prevention.

Director of the McCabe Centre for Law and Cancer, Mr Jonathan Liberman said this is particularly important in the current environment, where industries such as the tobacco industry are threatening or bringing legal challenges under international trade and investment law to undermine public health initiatives.

"The project is particularly timely in light of the challenge to Australia's world-first plain tobacco packaging legislation brought by Philip Morris Asia under a bilateral investment agreement between Australia and Hong Kong," Mr Liberman said.

In addition to these grants, Jane Martin, Executive Manager of the Obesity Policy Coalition (which is located within Cancer Council Victoria) will take the role of Chief Investigator in a collaborative project between Baker IDI and Monash University that has received $247,340 in ANPHA funding.

This study will investigate the impact of obesity prevention policy on social inequalities in obesity and seek to identify strategies to decrease the difference in obesity prevalence between social strata.

Cancer Council Victoria CEO, Todd Harper, said the ANPHA research grants provided a welcome opportunity to strengthen the science of prevention in Australia.

"We are delighted with the awarding of these highly competitive grants which will help strengthen prevention efforts in important areas such as obesity and the law," Mr Harper said.

"We look forward to seeing the outcome of these important projects and using the findings to inform policy and practice around obesity and international trade agreements in the future."


The Australian National Preventive Health Agency (ANPHA) was established by the Federal Government on 1 January 2011 to strengthen Australia's investment and infrastructure in preventive health.

The Preventive Health Research Project Grants Program has been established by ANPHA in collaboration with the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) to fund preventive health (health promotion) research projects and the dissemination of research results in order to facilitate and support evidence-based policy decisions.

In this first round of research grants, almost $4 million in research grants has been allocated nation-wide to 13 new projects, with the aim of:

  • strengthening the preventive health evidence base by supporting research in identified priority areas; and
  • promoting the translation and uptake of research findings in policy and practice through the implementation, dissemination, and diffusion of research results.