VCOSS commends the 2016 Victorian Budget for its support for LGBTI community members, with the announcement of a new Pride Centre, a new LGBTI grants program and support to combat homophobia in rural and regional Victoria. Increasing support for and encouraging the equality of LGBTI community members will help to build social cohesion.
We are also pleased with the announcement of more than $28m in programs to support refugee and asylum seekers, including a range of new settlement and support programs along with a new primary, community and dental services program. These will provide increased health and wellbeing support for newly arrived people who have often lived through trauma and who can face significant challenges in resettling.
However, there wasn’t any additional support for Neighbourhood Houses. Neighbourhood Houses contribute directly to building cohesive and resilient communities by enabling people of all abilities, backgrounds and ages to connect, learn and share in an inclusive environment. This can be particularly important in rural and regional areas, growth corridors and other priority areas where services and opportunities to connect are limited.
There are more volunteers than paid workers in Victorian community sector charities alone.The budget did not deliver any additional funding for support, resources and management of volunteers. It is hoped that the Ministerial Advisory Council for Volunteering, now underway, will recommend further funding for volunteers as the year progresses.
Initiatives at a glance
- $18m over four years for settlement and asylum seeker support. To provide a range of early intervention programs to support humanitarian arrivals across Victoria.
- $15m toward a new Pride Centre. To co-locate various Victorian LGBTI organisations creating enhanced relationships, shared efficiencies and improved access to services.
- $12m over four years for the Community Renewal and Rebuilding Fund. Targeted funding to disadvantaged communities for local interventions and place-based projects as well as support for community programs.
- $10.9m over four years for primary, community and dental services for refugee and asylum seeker arrivals. To provide additional on-arrival health services for refugee and asylum seekers. This will help some of our most vulnerable community members to access vital health care quickly.
- $9.9m over two years for mental health support services for marginalised Victorians. To trial new treatment models to support people with a mental illness including Aboriginal, transgender and gender diverse people. This will ensure some of the most disadvantaged Victorians will have access to vital support services.
- $4m over four years for a new LGBTI grants program. To strengthen the sustainability of LGBTI community organsiations enabling ongoing support of for lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, transgender and intersex community members.
- $2.5m over four years to combat homophobia. New education in rural and regional Victoria to combat homophobia, biphobia and transphobia and provide LGBTI community members with better access to support.
- $3.8m in 2016-17 to progress the self-determination agenda. Includes funding for the Koori Youth Council to encourage young Aboriginal people to engage in decision making and develop leadership capacity.
Future policy directions
- Building the capacity of Neighbourhood Houses and other community organsiations will build their own resilience, contribute to building social capital and connections, and ensure Victorian communities are better prepared to face future challenges.
- Increased support for the management of volunteers will help maximise and leverage the contribution of volunteers, who play a critical role in community organsiations and in strengthening the Victorian community.