Victorian Budget ‘Unprecedented’ Social Support
27 April 2016 at 1:57 pm
The 2016/17 Victorian Budget includes unprecedented social support spending for people facing disadvantage and hardship, while leaving scope for further initiatives in the fight against poverty and inequality, according to welfare peak body VCOSS.
VCOSS said the budget included positive announcements around jobs and training, education, early childhood development and health, such as:
- $185 million for the construction of new schools
- $200 million for a Regional Health Infrastructure Fund to improve health facilities, including community mental health
- $39.9 million to reinvigorate job prospects and $27 million to improve health outcomes in the Latrobe region following the 2014 Hazelwood mine fire
- $35 million to support vulnerable children and their families in the first two years
- $25.3 million to facilitate the introduction of the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS).
“You have to go back a long way to find a budget so responsive to the needs of Victoria’s most vulnerable and disadvantaged,” VCOSS CEO Emma King said.
“VCOSS is also pleased that recent commitments made as part of the Andrews government’s $572 million Family Violence Package are reflected in the budget papers.
“The government itself describes these measures as a ‘down payment’ and VCOSS is keen to work with the government on additional initiatives, including the development of a 10-year Victorian Family Violence Plan.”
She said the Family Violence Package included many welcome measures around crisis accommodation, social housing and homelessness support services. However VCOSS considered the development of an overarching housing policy as a key priority going forward.
VCOSS said while the budget measures are welcome, the focus must now turn to affordable housing.
“Affordable housing for all Victorians is the state’s next great social and economic challenge,” King said.
“It’s hard to get a decent education, hold down a job or raise your kids if you don’t have a steady home. Ensuring a steady supply of suitable and affordable housing will also help address a raft of other social and economic problems facing Victoria.”
However, King said she was encouraged by the treasurer’s budget day remarks that housing and housing affordability is a “vital issue” and the government is putting together a “comprehensive package” to be released later this year.
“Housing reform is an investment in the state’s future. Critical to this reform will be an increase in social housing and in the overall supply of affordable housing,” she said.
“We look forward to working with the Andrews Government on this most vital policy front.”
The Andrews government’s second budget has been described as the largest ever single investment in school infrastructure with the allocation of $1 billion and includes money for specialist schools and portable classrooms.
The government said it would set up a new department, the Victorian School Building Authority, to oversee construction. The Victorian Government had already unveiled $9.2 billion worth of surpluses in the budget.
The government announced an allocation of a $53 million investment in the creation of Jobs Victoria.
“This one-stop shop will be tasked with helping around 3,500 unemployed Victorians find and keep meaningful work. This includes intensive support for 1,000 people classed as long-term unemployed, who we know face higher entry barriers to the job market,” Treasurer Tim Pallas said.
“Jobs Victoria will also broker work experience placements for 4,000 Victorians looking to become job-ready, and prosper in an economy that is rapidly changing.”
The Victorian budget papers can be downloaded here