The 2016/17 Victorian Budget includes welcome measures to support people facing disadvantage and hardship, while leaving scope for further initiatives in the fight against poverty and inequality.
The budget includes positive announcements around jobs and training, education, early childhood development and health, such as:
- $185m for the construction of new schools.
- $200m for a Regional Health Infrastructure Fund to improve health facilities, including community health.
- $39.9m to reinvigorate job prospects and $27m to improve health outcomes in the Latrobe region following the 2014 Hazelwood mine fire.
- $35m to support vulnerable children and their families in the first two years.
- $25.3m to facilitate the introduction of the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS).
“You have to go back a long way to find a budget so responsive to the needs of Victoria’s most vulnerable and disadvantaged,” said VCOSS CEO Emma King.
VCOSS is also pleased that recent commitments made as part of the Andrews Government’s $572 million Family Violence Package are reflected in the budget papers.
The Government itself describes these measures as a “down payment” and VCOSS is keen to work with the Government on additional initiatives, including the development of a 10-year Victorian Family Violence Plan.
The Family Violence Package includes many welcome measures around crisis accommodation, social housing and homelessness support services, however VCOSS considers the development of an overarching housing policy a key priority going forward.
“Affordable housing for all Victorians is the state’s next great social and economic challenge,” Ms King said.
“It’s hard to get a decent education, hold down a job or raise your kids if you don’t have a steady home. Ensuring a steady supply of suitable and affordable housing will also help address a raft of other social and economic problems facing Victoria.”
However, Ms King said she was encouraged by the Treasurer’s Budget Day remarks that housing and housing affordability is a “vital issue” and the Government is putting together a “comprehensive package” to be released later this year.
“Housing reform is an investment in the state’s future. Critical to this reform will be an increase in social housing and in the overall supply of affordable housing.”
“We look forward to working with the Andrews Government on this most vital policy front,” Ms King said.
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A high resolution image of VCOSS CEO Emma King is available here.