CHP has its origins in the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) National Centre for Health Program Evaluation, which was established in 1991 as a joint venture between the University of Melbourne and Monash University. Professor David Dunt led the Program Evaluation Unit, which was the University of Melbourne’s side of the Centre.
The Program Evaluation Unit returned to the University of Melbourne in 2003, and was recognised as the Centre for Health Policy, Programs and Economics (CHPPE) by the University in 2006. In 2009, Professor Jane Pirkis took the reins as the director of the CHPPE with Margaret Kelaher as Deputy Director. The new Centre continued to focus its work around three work workstreams: Mental Health, Primary Care and Health Promotion (later renamed Evaluation and Implementation Science) and Health Economics. The Health Policy and Law (later to be renamed Law and Public Health) stream was established in 2007.
In 2013 there was a major restructure of centres in the Melbourne School of Population and Global Health, with CHPPE reforming into the Centre for Health Policy (CHP) and the Centre for Mental Health (CMH). Professor Jane Pirkis became the Director of the Centre for Mental Health and Professor Margaret Kelaher became the Director of CHP. During this year, the former Australian Health Workforce Institute was also incorporated as the Health Systems and Workforce Unit.
In 2015, CHP became the host and coordinating Centre for the Master of Ageing. Most recently, the new Demography Unit was established in July 2016.