- Reducing bushfire risk in a rapidly changing climate
$78.6m in 2021-22 ($384.2m/4 yrs) to reduce the impact of bushfires on Victorian communities.
- Initiatives to fast-track Victoria’s recovery from the 2019-20 Victorian bushfires
$60.5m in 2021-22 ($104.4m/4 yrs) to assist communities affected by the Black Summer bushfires. This includes mental health support, legal aid and financial counselling.
- Zero and low emission vehicles: accelerating adoption
$11.0m in 2021-22 ($46.1m/3 yrs) to introduce a $3,000 subsidy for zero emission vehicles for households and businesses.
- Building inclusive and safe communities for Victorians with disability
Part of $8.1m in 2021-22 ($9.2m/4 yrs) to provide accessible communications for people with a disability during emergencies.
- Seizing the economic opportunity of a net zero, climate resilient state
$5.0m in 2021-22 ($10m/2 yrs) to drive progress towards Victoria’s emissions reduction targets.
- More trees for a cooler, greener west
$5.0m in 2021-22 to plant new trees in western Melbourne.
- Support for the expansion of the Victorian Energy Upgrades program
$2.2m in 2021-22 ($7m/4 yrs) to deliver more subsidised energy efficiency upgrades for households and businesses.
Communities impacted by the Black Summer bushfires are still struggling to recover and rebuild. These communities will benefit from investment in essential services to support their health and wellbeing. In 2021-22, $60.5m will be spent on initiatives in bushfire-affected areas including financial counselling, mental health support and legal aid. Part of the Government’s Good Money program will also continue pop-up stores in these regions to provide no-interest loans, low-cost insurance, and financial advice to households in need.
VCOSS supports the implementation of the Victorian Traditional Owner Cultural Fire Strategy to incorporate the expertise of Aboriginal cultural burning in bushfire preparedness.
It is also positive that the Government is investing in support for people with a disability to prepare for emergencies, as well as accessible communication during emergencies so people don’t miss out on urgent messages.
A gap in this Budget is funding for community service organisations to plan for emergencies. This would build the sector’s resilience during disasters and help staff members maintain business continuity. VCOSS also would have liked to see funding for a network of climate-resilient refuges for people to shelter from extreme heat and bushfire smoke.
The Budget was quiet on efforts to address and prepare for climate change, after the raft of announcements in 2020. VCOSS supports the planting of half a million trees in western Melbourne to reduce the impact of extreme heat and air pollution. Investment in zero emissions vehicles is also welcome, although it will be years before these announcements trickle down and make electric cars affordable for low-income households.
Various initiatives will support Victoria to reduce its emissions and reach its targets, but a missed opportunity is installing rooftop solar panels on public housing. This would lower residents’ energy bills and help them afford the running costs of the new reverse-cycle air-conditioners being rolled out to thousands of public housing properties as a result of last year’s Budget.