Teamwork is dream work: Partnerships outperform individual action

Effectiveness of the Victorian Salt Reduction Partnership: a qualitative study

A new paper led by Emalie Rosewarne, PhD candidate and research associate at The George Institute, finds that public health partnerships can achieve better outcomes than individual action. Emalie and her colleagues at the George Institute for Global Health, VicHealth and Heart Foundation, studied the effectiveness of the Victorian Salt Reduction Partnership between 2014 and 2019. The Partnership, established in 2014, is a consortium of key organisations including VicHealth, The George Institute for Global Health, Heart Foundation, Deakin University Institute of Physical Activity and Nutrition (IPAN), and the Victorian Department of Health and Human Services.

“In response to a lack of Federal government action on salt, the Victorian Salt Reduction Partnership was created to coordinate actions to reduce average salt intake by 1g per day in Victoria,” explains Emalie.   

Globally, salt reduction interventions have been identified as feasible, cost-effective approaches to reduce the non-communicable disease (NCD) burden. Currently, across the world, salt intake is double the recommended daily maximum amount of 5g per day. In 2017, diets high in salt resulted in almost 3.2 million deaths. To reduce the salt related NCD burden, in 2013, United Nations member states committed to a 30% reduction in population salt intake by 2025. Despite their commitment, many countries, including Australia, are still lagging short of achieving this.

In Victoria, salt intake was estimated at 8.9g/day in adults, with men and boys consuming higher amounts than women and girls. The Victorian Salt Reduction Partnership program comprised six main action areas, including four intervention arms:

  1. consumer awareness campaign,
  2. generate public debate,
  3. food industry engagement
  4. advocacy & policy strengthening,


  1. A strong partnership
  2. A research and evaluation component


As part of the Partnership evaluation, semi-structured stakeholder interviews were conducted with 21 key stakeholders in 2019. The objective was to understand stakeholder perspectives on how well the Partnership had done in delivering a complex, multi-faceted salt reduction intervention in Victoria in the five-year period.

“We wanted to understand how the Partnership functioned, the process of implementation, and internal and external factors affecting intervention design and delivery. We wanted to know how these factors influenced the intervention outcomes.”


What we found: Lessons for public health partnerships

Stakeholders were of the view that the Partnership was essential to intervention planning and decision-making, and it had delivered on capacity building and collaborative action. Perceived challenges were identified as well, including alignment of individual, organisational and Partnership values, and communication between strategic and implementation teams.

In conclusion, it was found that establishing a Partnership facilitated collaborative action, capacity building and execution of the salt reduction intervention. Partnership members viewed their diversity as a strength. The Partnership brought together skills and expertise in diverse areas such as communications, campaign management, public health interventions, disease prevention and treatment, advocacy and research. By working together, an effective and diverse partnership can achieve better outcomes than any individual or organisation can alone by sharing knowledge and skills.

“What we learnt from this partnership is relevant for all public health partnerships. Effective partnerships consist of members with diverse skills and experience. They have clear allocation of Partner roles and responsibilities and strong communication frameworks to facilitate collaborative action and capacity building. They have logical, strategic plans that are supported by robust monitoring and evaluation procedures to determine how the partnership is performing and how intervention delivery is going throughout the intervention to establish if any modifications are needed.”