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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.

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. 
Some human services have been subject to competitive tendering, and that experience has been very mixed.  Governments have also developed market structures that provide for user choice in, for example, disability services.  But the goal in human services is human flourishing, which has an individual and a communal dimension.  Lessons need to be learned from experience, and competition should only be fostered after careful consideration of each case.
At the Welcome the Asylum Seeker Parish Support Program Forum on April 16 in his Keynote speech Bishop Vincent Long OFMConv DD, Chairman of the Australian Catholic Social Justice Council, called for Australia to reclaim its welcoming and generous spirit towards people seeking asylum. He reminded us that Christians have a 'mandate to care' for people in need. We a need a broader base of support for people seeking asylum to put an end to the 'globalised indifference' referred to by Pope Francis. We need to look to refugees not with fear, but with respect.

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Catholic Social Services Victoria acknowledges the Traditional Custodians and their Elders in each of the Communities where we work. Click for our Reconciliation Vision
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