Victorian Budget Addresses Family Violence and Homelessness
2 May 2017 at 3:09 pm
The welfare sector has described the 2017 Victorian budget as “having a heart” and delivering on the state government’s commitment to end family violence and fund homelessness programs.
The Victorian Council of Social Service said the budget’s headline figure of $1.9 billion for family violence initiatives was a generous and welcome amount, and should be recognised as new money in addition to previous commitments.
“This is a budget with a heart,” VCOSS CEO Emma King said.
“The government has allocated a phenomenal amount of money to address family violence in a range of areas, from prevention to early intervention and support for victims and perpetrators.”
The government initiatives around women and children include:
- $448 million to establish 17 support and safety hubs
- $270.8 million to provide specialist support for victims and support recovery
- $269 million to operate five specialist family violence courts
- $50.7 million to help stop the violence before it starts
- $20.5 million to support community legal centres and financial counsellors, which work on the frontline protecting families escaping violence.
“The government should be commended for genuinely acting on the recommendations of the Family Violence Royal Commission,” King said.
“These measures will save lives.”
King said the 2017 budget also formally allocated money towards initiatives to make housing safer, cheaper and more accessible for Victoria’s most vulnerable citizens, including the pre-announced $1 billion Social Housing Growth Fund.
“There’s a lot to be proud of in this budget,” King said.
“VCOSS will work with the government to ensure fairness is central across all key government decisions and investments over the coming year.”
The peak Victorian body for homelessness congratulated the state government on the housing, homelessness and family violence investments in the budget.
CEO of the Council to Homeless Persons (CHP) Jenny Smith said she was particularly pleased with the inclusion of newly announced resources to redevelop family violence refuges and provide long-term housing options for families fleeing violence.
The budget also included initiatives in the Homes for Victorians Housing Plan, including:
- $1 billion Social Housing Growth Fund which will generate $70 million p.a. for social housing
- $1 billion in loan guarantees to reduce the cost of borrowing for housing associations.
Smith said the budget was good news for 23,000 Victorians without a home, but warned that turning the tide on the homelessness problem was a slow process.
“Today’s homelessness crisis is the result of years of neglect and underinvestment by successive state and federal governments, and it’s going to take years of sustained investment to reverse the situation,” Smith said.
“The chronic shortage of housing that is affordable for people on low incomes is the main reason homelessness is increasing, and this can’t be fixed without both state and federal governments working together.
“Currently 35,000 households are on wait list for social housing in Victoria, and tens of thousands more are struggling in poverty just so they can pay the rent.”
She said the Victorian government had delivered a solid state budget which showed a genuine commitment to tackling homelessness.
“But we can’t end homelessness in one budget cycle, and we definitely won’t end homelessness without a huge boost in the supply of affordable housing and increased efforts to prevent tenancy breakdown,” she said.
“The federal government needs to follow Victoria’s lead and increase spending on social housing and homelessness, instead of continuing their trend of decreasing investment in real terms.
“The next urgent priority is a dedicated stream of public housing for single people, because single people on low incomes have effectively run out of places where they can afford to live.”
However, opposition leader Matthew Guy said Premier Daniel Andrews was taxing Victorians more but giving Victorians less.
“In just over two years, Daniel Andrews has increased taxes by nearly $4 billion. This is an increase in taxation revenue of over 22 per cent,” Guy said.
“But despite Daniel Andrews’ record tax increase, violent crime rates are increasing, road congestion is getting worse, public transport is more crowded and less reliable, and the standard of education our children is receiving is declining.
“Never has a government had so much money but done so little with it. Despite Victoria’s crime tsunami, there is no money for new police stations or reopening police stations closed under Labor.
“This budget is all about Daniel Andrews’ political interests, not the interests of Victorians who just want to be able to pay their bills and know their families are safe,” Guy said.
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