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Catholic social services make a substantial contribution to the social fabric of Victoria. Services range from alcohol treatment, crisis housing, Indigenous ministry and prison ministry, to the protection of women and children escaping family violence, refugees and asylum seekers and those impacted by human trafficking. More than 200,000 people were supported by Catholic social service organisations during 2016-2017, with the total number of occasions of support being in excess of 400,000. The total expenditure in assisting these people was more than $700 million and included 6800 employed staff and at least 17,600 volunteers.
Work to transform the child and family system from a crisis response to early intervention and prevention is underway in Victoria. The reforms are addressing systemic issues so that children and families receive the support they need, when they need it. But there is still much work to do, according to Denis Fitzgerald, Executive Director of Catholic Social Services Victoria.
 
 
The 2018-19 Victorian budget delivered by Treasurer Tim Pallas on Tuesday 1 May 2018 provides something for nearly everyone: it focuses on training and skills development, further infrastructure investment at an unprecedented level, and some contribution to most areas of social need. Such largesse was enabled by continued strong growth in the economy and a massive 9% increase in budgeted revenue, largely from grants.
However, a fundamental challenge remains: to see as core business addressing the needs of those on the margins; and, in the current political environment, to apply political courage to address the true causes of crime, rather than reacting to headlines with more investments in building prisons.
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. 
 

Fr Frank Brennan’s 2017 Rerum Novarum lecture challenges us all to ‘focus more on how our unprecedented wealth gives us a one off and unprecedented opportunity to break the cycle of poverty, through education and lifelong support’. 

 
Competition and efficiently working markets have their role to play, but collaboration not competition, mission not markets should be the drivers of social service delivery in the 21st century. These are central issues for faith-based service providers.
 
This article in Zadok (August 2017), written by Denis Fitzgerald, Executive Director of Catholic Social Services Victoria, explores challenges and opportunities faced by the faith-based social services sector.

 Catholics usually talk about "celebrating the Eucharist". It parallels what any family or workplace celebration achieves: it nourishes and deepens our unity, our fellowship by eating and drinking together and reflecting on the great stories contained in the Bible.

A strong economy and increasing house prices, resulting in continued growth in Victorian Government revenues, has underpinned significant additional budget funding on responding to family violence, transport infrastructure and police numbers. This complements initiatives over the past year in housing access, and child and family support.

The 2018 pre-election budget will be the next major opportunity to redress a missed opportunity to invest more thoroughly in addressing entrenched need and disadvantage.

Competition and efficiently working markets have their role to play, but collaboration not competition, mission not markets should be the drivers of social service delivery in the 21st century, according to a recent article by Denis Fitzgerald from Catholic Social Services Victoria.  Related to this, faith-based bodies can only achieve their potential in service and advocacy and be true to their prophetic calling if they also develop and advance a new vision of a society that would be informed by the needs of all.

Our submission on infrastructure planning for Victoria highlighted affordable housing and justice reinvestment – addressing causes of crime rather than just responding after the fact – as two priority elements of an effective strategy. 

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Catholic Social Services Victoria acknowledges the Traditional Custodians and their Elders in each of the Communities where we work.
 
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