Inclusive communities Analysis

Inclusive communities

Significant initiatives

  • Support for Victoria’s LGBTIQ+ community
    $45.4m in 2021-22 to celebrate and support the LGBTIQ+ community, including $21.3m for mental health and wellbeing services for trans and gender diverse young people, $2.4m for Victoria’s Healthy Equal Youth project, $8.8m for wellbeing services and $9m to support community organisations and peak bodies to help LGBTIQ+ Victorians navigate vital services.
  • Increased funding for disability advocacy support
    Funding for the Office for Disability has been increased by 16.7% to $15.6m for 2021-22, which will support the development of the State Disability Plan and deliver a $1.7m boost to disability advocacy services.
  • Support to build inclusive and safe communities for Victorians with disability
    As part of a $9.2m package over 4 years, funding is provided for communications, preparedness and response to emergencies and disasters and Disability Liaison Officers in health services. $9.1m in 2021-22 ($29.3m/4 yrs) is also provided to support Working with Children Check and National Disability Insurance Scheme worker screening. 
  • Building better connected communities
    $1.8m in 2021-22 ($3m/4 yrs) funding is provided to continue the Australian Red Cross hotline to support people feeling disconnected or lonely to engage with their local communities, to deliver a reimagined Seniors Festival, and to continue the Justice Connect not-for-profit law program.
  • Public transport infrastructure, accessibility and amenity upgrades
    In addition to an investment of $986m in 2021-22 to build a fleet of 25 more accessible, reliable and energy efficient trains and related infrastructure, and $368m in 2021-22 to deliver enabling infrastructure for Next Generation Trams, the Budget commits $7.3m in 2021-22 ($9.9m/2 yrs) to improve public transport accessibility through a new strategy and a range of design and access improvements, including level-access upgrades to seven tram stop pairs aligned to the Metro Tunnel network. 

Analysis

The Budget commits funding to a range of initiatives focused on improving access, inclusion and support for Victorians who experience additional barriers, discrimination and disadvantage. COVID-19 exacerbated the issues and challenges faced by many Victorians, including people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds, older people, people with disability, the LGBTIQ+ community, carers and support networks.

Lessons learnt through the pandemic – including the importance of partnering with and working alongside communities – have informed the delivery of further funding for continued and enhanced community engagement activities with residents of the North Melbourne and Flemington public housing towers, an expansion of the prevention and preparedness work of the Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CALD) Communities Taskforce, and accessible emergency communications and preparedness support for people with disability.

 

Support for culturally and linguistically diverse Victorians

Multicultural communities were disproportionately impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, the associated economic downturn and increased racism. Continued and new funding in the Budget to support multicultural Victorians is welcomed.

 

 

The Budget includes a focus on newly-arrived people, with $8.7 million over four years to improve settlement outcomes for migrants, refugees and asylum seekers. Through the funding, the capacity of programs delivering legal support, case management, and information on employment protections will be extended. The funding will also increase the capacity of Regional Community Hubs to improve services for new migrants, refugees and asylum seekers across Victoria. $3.8 million in 2021-22 is provided for continued health supports for people seeking asylum who are ineligible for Medicare and income support, including nurse and GP care, mental health programs, assistance with food, medication and utilities, homelessness programs and case coordination.

Funding is provided to support multicultural communities to build employment skills and improve access to services. Targeted economic security programs to support migrant and refugee women into employment and the Asylum Seeker VET program, providing eligible asylum seekers with access to subsidised training, are both funded. The Budget also commits $4.1 million over two years for jobs and stimulus initiatives for Victoria’s multicultural communities. The package supports the development of a cross-government bicultural worker strategy, focused on recruiting and supporting bicultural workers to assist diverse communities to navigate government services. And grants are provided to build, upgrade and renovate community infrastructure.

Racism is not new, but it is entrenched and persistent. A three-year funding package to tackle racism in Victoria is welcomed. The $1.5 million package will support the implementation of communication, community engagement and training initiatives to reduce vilification and hate-based conduct. These initiatives are part of the Government’s response to the Parliamentary Inquiry into Anti-Vilification Protections. Multicultural festivals, events and seniors’ groups will also have access to funding to celebrate and promote diversity, foster social cohesion and support community connections.

 

Advancing the rights, safety and wellbeing of older Victorians

The Budget makes a range of commitments to improve the quality of life, safety and wellbeing of older Victorians. The recently released recommendations of the Royal Commission into Aged Care provide policy and program directions for all jurisdictions to better support older people living in residential care. The Budget provides an additional $28.8 million in 2021-22 to meet nurse-to-patient ratios in public sector residential aged care, and a further $1 million in 2021-22 to continue the work of Elder Abuse Prevention Networks and strengthen elder abuse identification and response in public health services.

Funding of $65 million over four years is allocated to rebuild the Glenview Community Care aged care facility in Rutherglen and to undertake detailed planning and design work for the future redevelopment of the Camperdown and Cohuna public sector aged care facilities. Close to $76 million will support ongoing infrastructure works for public sector residential aged care services in Cheltenham, Kew and Wantirna, and regional and rural facilities renewal.

The isolating impacts of the pandemic are unfortunately far from over for those who cannot risk returning to face-to-face social and community activities, particularly older Victorians and people with health conditions. We welcome continued funding for a hotline operated by the Australian Red Cross to provide emotional support and to help people connect and engage with their local community. Continued funding in 2021-22 of $2.5 million for the Victoria Together online platform, which shares a range of creative content and virtual experiences, and $400,000 for a reimagined Seniors Festival to provide outreach to isolated older people in aged care facilities through online, video and radio-based entertainment, will also support people to access and enjoy social interactions, arts and cultural experiences.

 

Promoting and realising the rights of people with disability

While the Victorian Government’s role as a disability support provider and funder has changed substantially through the roll-out of the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS), the state’s vital and ongoing responsibility for delivering inclusive and responsive mainstream services and civic spaces, and in eliminating systemic disadvantage and inequity, remains unchanged. This includes, but is not limited to, child and family services, housing, health, education and training, employment, emergency management and response, justice, and transport.

The Budget includes funding for targeted initiatives, including $1.4 million for accessible communications before, during and after emergencies and disasters, $6.1 million for Disability Liaison Officers in health settings to improve access to services, continued funding for the Impact21 Program to support employment pathways for people with an intellectual disability, and $3.9 million over four years for a team to support young people with disability who have matters before the Children’s Court. A range of measures to support inclusion in education also received funding, as detailed in our Education analysis.

Funding for quality and safeguarding measures is provided in the Budget, including additional funding for regulators and complaints handling bodies like the Victorian Disability Worker Regulation Scheme and the Disability Services Commissioner, for workforce screening, and for advocacy services to promote the rights and voices of people with disability.

Disability advocacy has been consistently recognised by inquiries as an important safeguard to help prevent and report abuse, particularly for people who are afraid or unable to have their voices heard. The disability advocacy sector is struggling with the weight of demand associated with the NDIS, and COVID-19 has put additional pressure on services. While more is needed to reduce waiting lists and improve the sustainability of the sector, this Budget boost is nonetheless welcome. We look forward to additional detail about how funding will be directed to increase the coverage, reach and access to disability advocacy and self-advocacy support.

 

Supporting and celebrating Victoria’s LGBTIQ+ community

The Budget makes a range of commitments to deliver improved support for Victoria’s LGBTIQ+ community. $8.8 million is provided for mental health supports, including $6.4 million to expand the Rainbow Door program to support people who identify as LGBTIQ+ to access and navigate the mental health and wellbeing system, and $2.4 million to continue the Healthy Equal Youth project to support young LGBTIQ+ Victorians. A further $4.6 million is provided for the development of a diverse communities’ mental health and wellbeing framework and blueprint for action.

The Budget includes $21.3 million to support the mental health of trans and gender diverse young people through the Royal Children’s Hospital and Monash Health’s Gender Clinics. An additional $9 million is provided to support community organisations and peak bodies to help LGBTIQ+ Victorians navigate vital services. Specialist legal services for the LGBTIQ+ community are also funded as part of a $31.1 million, four-year package for legal assistance and critical early intervention support services.

Funding is provided to continue the LGBTIQ+ organisation grants program and the LGBTIQ+ Leadership Program, and $1 million for Melbourne Pride 2021, a major one-off event to celebrate and support LGBTIQ+ communities. Melbourne Pride 2021 will mark the 40-year anniversary of the decriminalisation of homosexuality by the Victorian Parliament.

The first ever Victorian LGBTIQ+ Strategy is currently in development and will guide the Victorian Government’s efforts to achieve equality for LGBTIQ+ communities over the next decade. We look forward to the next phases of this Strategy and the priority areas for change it will progress.

 

Caring for carers

Over 730,000 Victorians care for someone with a disability, mental illness, terminal illness, chronic illness, or an older person with care needs. The Budget provides funding to assist carers and support those they care for.

A $93 million, four-year package will support families and carers of people with mental illness through the establishment of eight family and carer-led centres across Victoria and increased funding for the Carer Support Fund, Tandem and its carer participation registers. The Families where a Parent has a Mental Illness (FaPMI) program will be expanded, and funding will be provided to co-design and expand supports for young carers.

 

Funding is provided to improve supports available to young carers and strengthen referral pathways across mental health and wellbeing and education systems. Other initiatives that will support carers to learn, upskill, work and maintain their health and wellbeing are also welcome. As the implementation of the Victorian Carer Strategy 2018-22 reaches its latter stages, we look forward to hearing more about how priority actions of the Strategy will continue to be pursued.

 
Community and social participation

Supporting Victorians to access and take part in social and community life is crucial to wellbeing. We welcome funding provided for the continued delivery of Reclink’s ActiVIC program, which supports diversity and inclusion by providing more equitable access to sport and active recreation for people with disability, people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds, First Nations people and people experiencing financial hardship. In addition to the public transport infrastructure investments outlined above, funding is provided to continue the Multi-Purpose Taxi Program lifting fee and wheelchair accessible vehicle subsidy, which aims to incentivise the supply of wheelchair-accessible vehicles and services for people with mobility needs.

Further investments should be targeted towards making public and community spaces accessible and inclusive for people with disability, older people and people with mobility or health conditions. The Budget’s modest $2.5 million investment in Changing Places accessible public toilets is positive, but only one piece of the puzzle. Infrastructure Victoria’s Draft 30-year Strategy recommended the immediate establishment of an accessibility upgrade fund for priority public building upgrades. Funding accessibility upgrades for public places would be a win-win for Victorians, businesses and the building sector alike. In addition, community participation and independence should be supported through the provision of additional resources for aids and equipment programs that support the independence and mobility of older people and people with disability who are ineligible for the NDIS.