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Victoria Health First Nations Action Plan Immersion On Country with Dr Sandro Demaio and Sarah Loh

Wendy Brooke from 3KND attended the Vic Health Immersion on Country that was held on Dja Dja Wurrung Land on the 27th of Feb -1st of Mar 2023.

The Vic Health First Nations Action Plan Immersion on Country was an interactive three day gathering bringing together First Nations people from across the state of Victoria. Throughout the Immersion all participants were asked to actively participate in discussions to shape the action plan. Safety and inclusive participation is important to VicHealth, so they engaged some First Nations consultants and wellbeing supports. To find out more about the Immersion objectives, and the role of VicHealth, and to get a sense of the important role that the participants would play at the Immersion, please click this link. First Nations Action Plan: Immersion on Country ( It’s a short video from Melinda Swale and Dr Sandro Demaio the CEO of Vic Health.

The three days were powerful, in the fact that young people who already work in the health sector participated in and gave their opinion on the state of the sector and the impact on their communities. It was wonderful to also know that the three days were culturally safe for all who attended.

Wendy conducted interviews with 4 participants of the Immersion on Country. Two were Vic Health staff, and two were cultural facilitators to get their thoughts on what they were hoping to get from the three day and what they hoped the participants would get from it.

Wendy has plans to interview some of the young participants, now that they have had a chance to digest the experience and give their thoughts on what they have gotten from the experience. So, stay tuned for these interviews, which will be great for community to hear how they are going to implement some of the things that they have learned from the day.

Chief Executive Officer of Vic Health - Dr Sandro Demaio

Dr Sandro Demaio is a globally-renowned public health expert and advocate as well as being a medical doctor – and he has a passion for food, health and wellbeing.

Sandro’s extensive background includes being the Medical Officer for non-communicable conditions and nutrition with the Department of Nutrition for Health and Development at the World Health Organization, as well as being the CEO of the EAT Foundation, the science-based, global platform for food systems transformation.

In his pro bono work, Sandro co-founded NCDFREE, a global social movement against chronic disease. In 2015, he founded festival21, assembling and leading a team of experts to stage a free celebration of community, food, culture and future in his hometown of Melbourne.

Sandro has published 30 scientific papers and more than 90 articles along with Doctor’s Diet, a cookbook based on science and inspired by a love of good food. He also co-hosted the ABC television show Ask the Doctor – an innovative and exploratory factual medical series broadcasting across Australia and around the world.

He holds a Master of Public Health, a PhD in non-communicable diseases and has held fellowships at both Harvard Medical School and Johns Hopkins School of Public Health.

Find Sandro on Twitter,LinkedIn and Instagram.

Executive Manager, Future Healthy Group at Vic Health – Sarah Loh

Sarah Loh has over three decades of experience in sport and recreation management across not-for-profit organisations, local government, and the private sector.

Before joining VicHealth in 2022, Sarah was the Chief Executive Officer of a junior Australian Football League along with two other State sporting organisations.

Sarah has been a long-term advocate on a range of issues including healthy eating, mental health, and physical activity for all abilities. She has championed initiatives that address the impacts of harmful industries in community sport and removal of barriers to active participation.

Sarah is available for comment on how VicHealth’s Future Healthy initiative is creating a healthier future for those aged 0-25.

Sarah holds a Masters in Sport Business Degree, majoring in sport and recreation, facilities, finance, marketing, project management and event management.


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