Foreword

Overall, Victoria is experiencing growth and prosperity.
Yet it is not reaching everyone, and inequality is growing.

The 2017-18 Victorian State Budget is a chance to turn the tide on inequality and further prioritise and invest in solutions that empower all Victorians to connect, fulfil their potential, and share the benefits of social and economic growth.

Buffeted by global forces, our economy is making a long-term transition from manufacturing to services. Meanwhile the housing market remains hot, making it difficult for many to afford safe, secure housing. Many people face uncertain job futures, especially young people and people living in rural and regional Victoria.

At the same time, social support systems are undergoing radical change, with some being entirely rebuilt and virtually no sector left untouched. Many of these reforms have laudable goals, but a solid future cannot be built on ever-shifting sands.

However, working together with the right resources, Victorian citizens, community organisations and the government can work together to empower and support people to avoid and overcome poverty, and thrive.

This can be done through well-resourced place-based approaches delivering local solutions; connecting people, community organisations, business and government to work together on tailored, ‘joined-up’ responses to common goals.

It can be done by expanding social housing so more people have a safe, secure and affordable home, and
by helping people reduce their essential services costs.

It can be done by providing basic services to all Victorians. Students with disability need support to access school, training and tertiary education, young people leaving out-of-home care need support to independently establish their lives, and mental health consumers need to know their community mental health support services will not disappear in the transition to the NDIS. People also need support to speak up and defend their rights, through community legal and disability advocacy services.

This State Budget Submission weaves together far-reaching investments the Victorian government can
make in its 2017-18 budget, to empower all Victorians
to share in the state’s continuing growth and prosperity.

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Emma King
VCOSS Chief Executive Officer