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Funding for fairness, equity and inclusion, to ensure long-term solutions to disadvantage and poverty

Everyone should have the opportunities to flourish. In our submission on the 2020 Victorian State Budget, we call on Government to fund for fairness, equity and inclusion, to ensure long-term solutions to disadvantage and poverty. Anything that diminishes the lives of individuals also has a limiting effect on the wider community.  This means funding long-term solutions to address disadvantage and poverty and a commitment to social inclusion for all. 

Victoria has seen unprecedented and sustained economic growth for over two decades. While most Victorians have benefited from this growth, some have fallen behind in terms of educational attainment, skill development, employment, housing and other health and wellbeing outcomes. Stagnant wage growth, a lack of any real increase in pensions and benefits, coupled with the impacts of climate change (rises in the cost of living) has placed increasing pressure for low-income households, particularly single people and single parent families. For many individuals and families, emergency relief is no longer occasional assistance in times of difficulty, it forms part of the regular budgeting to try to make ends meet.  

With the fastest population growth in Australia, currently at 6.5 million, the population of Victoria is expected to reach 11.2 million over the next thirty years. Evidence to recent Royal Commissions and Inquiries has shown that the social service sector is struggling to meet the needs of people seeking support and assistance. Commitment to planning and funding is needed to ensure there is capacity for social services to meet growing demand. Victoria has a vibrant and capable social service sector who work alongside some of the most vulnerable people in Victoria. They play a critical role in assisting people to improve their wellbeing and enhance social functioning, providing a wide range of help and support to individuals, families, groups and communities. Government has a responsibility to ensure adequate budgetary provision is made to address the social service needs of all Victorians, particularly for those who are vulnerable.  

In our submission this year, we are calling on the Victorian Government to:

Increase long-term investment to ensure the provision of an additional 3,000 new social and public housing dwellings per year for the next ten years. Disadvantaged and vulnerable households face significant challenges in accessing affordable and appropriate housing. There are 82,500 people, including almost 25,000 children, who are currently on Victoria’s housing waiting list.

Sustain the long-term, bi-partisan commitment and investment to address disadvantage, to reduce domestic and family violence. Socioeconomically disadvantaged people continue to experience higher levels of domestic and sexual violence, demonstrating the need to address employment opportunities, housing and the cost of living pressures, as integral to responses to reduce domestic violence. 

Adequately fund clinical and community mental health services to meet the current demand across metropolitan, regional and rural Victoria. Victoria has the lowest per capita expenditure on mental health in the country at 13 per cent below the national average.  

Substantially increase investment in early intervention and diversion programs that specifically target young people, particularly in regional and rural Victoria. Building safe communities requires measures to address the root causes that contribute to offending, disadvantage and poverty to improve the life outcomes for young people.

Addressing the needs of those on the margins is core business for an inclusive society with a focus on fairness, equity and inclusion. 

Click here to read our full submission.

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