Victoria’s peak social advocacy body has warned not all Victorians are benefiting from the state’s social and economic growth, and is proposing a range of targeted investments to turn the tide.
“With manufacturing jobs declining, a hostile housing market and the emergence of a two speed economy, many Victorians are being left behind,” Victorian Council of Social Service CEO Emma King said.
“A record 726,900 Victorians now live below the poverty line. This is simply not good enough. The policies of yesterday aren’t working.”
“However, with smart approaches and a collaborative mindset there are ways to empower all Victorians to succeed.”
VCOSS’ 2017 state budget submission presents practical budget proposals to empower individuals, strengthen communities and help address structural unfairness. It calls on the Victorian Government to:
- SLASH household power bills through energy efficiency programs ().
- BUILD more social housing and adopt a ‘home first’ approach to homelessness ().
- FUND more kinder places for three and four year olds ().
- IMPROVE legal assistance, especially for those identified as vulnerable ().
- HELP students with disability succeed, with needs based funding ().
- SUPPORT independent advocacy services for people with disability and their carers ().
- ESTABLISH a social innovation fund to support local initiatives (), and
- LOOK AFTER young adults in state care until their 21st birthday ().
“These measures shouldn’t be seen as ‘costs’ to the budget, but rather as investments,” Ms King said.
“Investments in these areas will empower individuals, strengthen communities and help address structural unfairness.”
“They are down payments on greater health, social equity and community cohesion, which are all key driver of economic growth.”
VCOSS recognise that a lot has been achieved over recent years, especially to combat family violence and provide more social housing to Victorians facing homelessness. But more action is needed to build on this progress and achieve substantial, lasting change.
“All Victorians should be supported to reach their potential—regardless of where they live, how long they stayed in school, what struggles they face or who they choose to love,” Ms King said.
The 2017 VCOSS state budget submission also urges the Victorian Government to develop a community sector workforce plan. Growth in the community sector will be a major source of new jobs in Victoria, but skill and worker shortages are likely without careful planning.
The full state budget submission includes more than 50 detailed policy initiatives and investments, and was developed after extensive consultation with the broader Victorian community sector.