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Affording the basics
Championing community sector potential
Improving climate equity and resilience
Women, children and gender equity
Inclusive communities for people with disability, older people and carers.
Stronger early childhood education and schools
Skills, training and jobsSocial cohesion
Treaty and Aboriginal self-determination
Victoria has shown strong leadership in addressing climate change.
Our state now has a clear mandate to respond to climate change with the introduction of the Climate Change Act 2017. The Climate Change Act commits Victoria to zero net greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. It establishes mechanisms to do this which recognise the importance of resilient communities and equity considerations in mitigating climate change and adapting to its impacts.
The 2019/20 budget supports Victoria’s climate change strategy, the big shift to solar, bushfire risk management and emergency services. However, it does not yet make headway into some of the most pressing issues that climate change, extreme weather and disasters bring for community organisations and people facing poverty and disadvantage.
Positive initiatives in climate change
Implementing the Climate Change Act
The Government will develop the first Climate Change Strategy under Victoria’s world leading Climate Change Act 2017. The development of this strategy will guide Victoria in tackling emissions reduction, adapting to climate change and creating jobs in a low-carbon future.
Cost: $1.5m in 2019/20 ($2m/2 years)
Volunteers protecting the coast
Funding will be provided to continue Victoria’s Coastcare program, which promotes awareness, volunteering and the delivery of on-ground works in coastal management. Grants will be available to community organisations delivering protective and restorative works along Victoria’s coastline to secure the coast from the impacts of climate change.
Cost: $1.5m in 2019/20 ($3m/2 years)
Supporting schools to be sustainable
Funding will be provided to continue support for Victoria’s ResourceSmart Schools program, which assists to minimise waste, save energy and water, promote biodiversity and take action on climate change to benefit their school and community. This is achieved through providing practical support to reduce resource use, integrate sustainability into the curriculum and share learnings beyond the school gate.
Cost: $2.8m in 2019/20
Positive initiatives in energy
Solar panel and solar hot water subsidies*
The Victorian Government will provide solar panel rebates for 650,000 homeowners and 50,000 renters under the ‘Solar Homes’ program. Another 60,000 households will receive solar hot water system subsidies. Rebates are available for low and higher income earners.
Cost: $135.1m in 2019/20 ($545.5m/5 years)
A fairer energy market*
Pricing regulation and consumer protections are vital for people who cannot afford the transition to solar, and will need to keep relying on the electricity grid for their power. The Victorian Government will implement sweeping reforms to the energy market, including the Victorian Default Offer—a government-regulated, fair-priced power deal—and bans on energy cold-calling and door-to-door sales.
Cost: $6m in 2019/20 ($27.3m/4 years)
Fully renewable Newstead*
The Government will make a funding contribution to a 10-megawatt solar farm for Newstead. This will help transition Newstead to 100 per cent renewable energy.
Cost: $1m in 2019/20
Positive initiatives in emergencies
Managing bushfire risk
Funding will be provided for Safer Together, which aims to reduce the impact of bushfires on Victorian communities, the economy and the environment. This program aims to reduce risk from bushfires by:
- avoiding unacceptable impacts on the environment and communities
- better integration across public and private land
- land and fire managers working together and with communities to plan and deliver integrated bushfire management
- involving local communities in decision making, drawing on local values and insights to promote resilience
- using world-leading science to manage fire and ecosystems.
Cost: $12.7m in 2019/20 ($30.7m/4 years)
Support for drought-affected farmers
Funding continues to be provided to support farmers affected by drought and dry conditions including one-off payments under the Farm Business Assistance Program to eligible farm businesses in the Wellington and East Gippsland shires, and eligible dairy farmers in northern and north-west Victoria. The Government has also extended funding for the On-farm Drought Infrastructure Support Grants which assist farmers to install infrastructure to better manage and prepare for drought.
Cost: $12.6m in 2018/19 (current year funding increased)
Better mental health care for our emergency workers
An Early Intervention and Prevention Fund will ensure Victoria Police employees are able to access better mental health and wellbeing support services. DHHS will establish a specialist network of clinicians and a Centre of Excellence for emergency worker mental health will be established. Funding will also be provided for pilot scheme to support emergency workers suffering from mental health injuries sustained at work.
Cost: $4m in 2019/20 ($8.5m/3 years)
Emergency alert upgrade
Additional funding will be provided to support Victoria’s contribution towards the upgrade and use of the national telephone warning system which allows emergency services to continue to send messages with critical information to landlines and mobile phones within a defined area about emergencies.
Cost: $3.2m in 2019/20
New and upgraded CFA fire stations and Surf Life Saving Clubs
Funding will be provided for the upgrades or the construction of new CFA stations at Armstrong Creek, Phillip Island, Riddells Creek and Junortoun. (This funding pool also relates to upgrades of Surf Life Saving Clubs.)
Cost: $2.6m in 2019/20 (14.7m/3 years)
The impacts of climate change are being felt in many parts of people’s lives. While the shift to renewable energy is currently centre stage, global warming is also affecting people’s health and wellbeing, finances, comfort at home and resilience to extreme weather events. Furthermore, climate change stands to exacerbate the existing vulnerabilities and disadvantages that people and communities are facing. To help ensure an equitable response to climate change, the Victorian Government can implement the following strategies.
Back community organisations in the face of climate change and emergencies*
Rural and regional community organisations are ill-prepared for the impacts of climate change and emergencies, yet are looked to provide frontline support, resources and triage, along with longer term community recovery, resilience and cohesion. The Government can develop a community services framework for emergencies and climate change that will build the resilience of community organisations, their clients and their communities.
Bring all Victorians on the transition to solar power
While rooftop solar is rolling out rapidly across Victoria, some people are struggling day-to-day to pay their energy bills. The Government could support Victorians facing disadvantage to access clean, affordable energy by:
- removing the tenant co-payment from the Solar Homes for renters program
- investing in viable larger-scale renewables for people who live in buildings which are unsuitable for rooftop solar
- providing solar for public and community housing – which could also help the Government meet its target of net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.
Ensure Victorians have healthy, climate-safe homes
The Victorian Government can support people to make their homes more comfortable and healthy in extreme weather. This is critical to protecting vulnerable people’s health and wellbeing, and is becoming increasingly important as climate change brings hotter, longer summers. The Government can make people’s homes healthier by:
- Expanding the EnergySmart Public Housing energy efficiency upgrades program. This would enable more of our most financially and physically vulnerable Victorians to have a healthy place to call home.
- Expanding the Energy Savvy Upgrades programs, to enable homeowners on low incomes whose health is at risk from the impacts of climate change to make their home healthier.
Ensure health services respond to climate change
Victoria’s health services will need to play their part in mitigating climate change and adapting to the new and worsening health conditions that climate change is bringing. Victoria’s response to climate change action should include a strategic plan for climate change, health and wellbeing, based on best-practice models such as the Climate and Health Alliance framework.
Provide Victorians with clean, affordable and convenient ways to access work, services and recreation
Victoria needs to shift from its heavy reliance on cars as part of the transition to low-emissions transport. This can be achieved in an equitable way by:
- Supporting people who cannot afford to transition to low-emissions vehicles to make the switch
- Improving public transport in areas where people are financially, socially and physically disadvantaged
- Ensuring public transport is accessible, particularly for people with a disability (see VCOSS’s summary of transport spend in this year’s budget).