Our submission on the 2018 Victorian budget argues that Victoria’s strong economy provides an opportunity to invest in services that help to build a community that is safe, equitable and compassionate; where all Victorians share in the State’s prosperity.
investment to address family violence in the community was
welcomed. The next budget is an
opportunity to build on this, through a holistic approach where housing
stability and safety, economic participation, justice issues and support
services for families and children are addressed collaboratively.
The future resourcing of community mental health services
should be assured and strengthened to ensure the implementation of NDIS
operates collaboratively with the broader health system and other
service sectors that support people with mental illness.
Aboriginal Victorians continue
to experience a greater level of disadvantage compared with non-indigenous
Australians. Sustained and focused effort is needed to reduce the level of
disadvantage and strengthen Aboriginal families and communities.
The loss of some traditional industries in regional and rural
communities has impacted the availability and security of jobs. Greater
planning and investment is needed to ensure sufficient affordable housing
options are available, access to support services is improved, educational
opportunities and pathways to further training exist, and employment
opportunities are created.
Social Services Victoria continues to urge the Government to implement a justice
reinvestment approach with an emphasis on alternatives to prison, increased
resources for rehabilitation and reintegration into society, and developing
services addressing social issues that help reduce offending behaviour. For
young people, this requires additional expenditure on prevention and early
intervention approaches as well as rehabilitation and reintegration programs.
Many refugee and
asylum seeker families and individuals, as well as recently arrived
communities generally, face challenges in relation to housing, education,
health services and opportunities for employment. Further investment is needed
to support these communities to settle well in Australia.
Many areas of reform
are impacting on agencies’ capacity and capability to deliver services which
are already stretched. Over the past few years, indexation
on State Government funded programs has not kept up with wage and CPI
increases. Funding for the sustainability of community service organisations needs
to be maintained and strengthened.
Substantial initiatives over the past year by the Andrews’ Government
have addressed some entrenched disadvantage and vulnerability in the community.
These very helpful initiatives notwithstanding, greater investment is needed
and the 2018 pre-election budget is the next major opportunity to redress this.