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Blueprint for building a Victoria without poverty

The Victorian Council of Social Service is releasing its 2015-16 state budget submission today, describing it as a social blueprint to build a Victoria without poverty, through practical proposals that put people first and place community needs at the heart of decision making.

The VCOSS plan, Building a Victoria without poverty, sets out 12 immediate spending priority areas for this year’s state budget, and presents a series of practical proposals to address some of the biggest social issues facing Victoria, including spiralling youth unemployment, growing educational disadvantage, increasing family violence, and the rising cost of living.

“Poverty is growing in Victoria – with almost 14 per cent of people in our state living below the poverty line – yet we could reverse this alarming trend by adopting an approach to social planning that puts people and communities first,” said Emma King, CEO of VCOSS.

“With the proper policies in place and the right interventions at the right time we could begin to build a Victoria without poverty, where everyone has the opportunity to build a brighter future, and where we leave a stronger, more prosperous and fairer legacy for future generations.”

“The Andrews Government has an opportunity to create a fairer Victoria by using the strategies outlined in the VCOSS plan to tackle some of the most pressing social issues we face today.”

“During the election campaign and since coming into power, the ALP announced a raft of policies that seek to put people at the heart of decision making in Victoria.”

“Commitments around tackling unemployment, improving access to education, beginning to fix child protection, and the swift work in setting up the historic Royal Commission into Family Violence show that the Andrews Government is prepared to work on delivering on those promises.”

“Yet the growing level of poverty and disadvantage in our community requires a strong social blueprint, focused on delivering practical solutions.”

“It is imperative we take a long-term approach that recognises the value of strong communities and the importance of fostering resilience.”

“VCOSS has developed this comprehensive blueprint of social policies to address the underlying causes of poverty and disadvantage and to create a stronger, more inclusive society.”

These top 12 budget priorities offer practical approaches to build a Victoria without poverty:

  • Strengthen the community sector to help people thrive
  • Tackle unemployment
  • Help every child succeed in education
  • Prevent family violence
  • Invest in integrated support for children and families
  • Make child protection work
  • Create healthy and inclusive communities
  • Tackle the housing crisis
  • Cut the cost of living
  • Expand transport options
  • Make communities safer by addressing the causes of crime
  • Build resilient and engaged local communities

The full VCOSS State Budget Submission 2015-16 is available online.

CASE STUDY: Tackling youth unemployment and disengagement

The VCOSS State Budget Submission 2015-16 outlines practical proposals to help solve complex social issues.

Problem: Youth unemployment is growing in Victoria. VCOSS analysis of the most recent ABS data shows that Victoria ended 2014 with the highest monthly average youth unemployment rate since the 1990s, at 14.6 per cent for the year. This analysis also reaffirms that youth unemployment is highest in areas of concentrated disadvantage, including Melbourne’s outer urban fringe and parts of regional Victoria.

In late 2014 Victoria’s unemployment rate hit 6.8 per cent, its highest level in over a decade. There are more than six unemployed people for every job vacancy. There are growing numbers of people who are long-term unemployed, and the workforce participation rate has been falling.

Proposal: As part of its commitment to getting all Victorians back to work, the Andrews Government can support people aged 17–24 who face barriers to employment, by funding a ‘work ready’ pre-employment and training program to provide intensive, case-managed support. This will complement its policy of reinvesting in the TAFE system, and help those most at risk of unemployment avoid long-term joblessness. By investing in a targeted youth employment program, the Andrews Government can provide young people, their families and employers the support they need to ensure they are job-ready and better equipped to sustain employment.

Proposal: Increasing support for vulnerable students to help keep them engaged at school or in training will also assist the Victorian Government’s priorities of placing a greater focus on education disadvantage and helping young people to become work-ready as part of the State Government’s Back to Work initiative.

Example: The Pavilion School

The Pavilion School is a state secondary school for students who have disengaged from or been excluded by schools or education providers. With two campuses in Melbourne’s north, The Pavilion School aims to give its students the opportunity to enhance their education and social development, and to negotiate their transition into further education, employment or training at their own pace. The Mill Park campus is co-located with the City of Whittlesea Baseline Youth Services and a range of other specialist services. This has been a highly successful model.

Example: St Luke’s Anglicare

St Luke’s Educational Services Unit, part of Anglicare Victoria, supports people aged 12-17 who are unable to attend mainstream school, mainly due to extreme behavioural issues. Many students are living in out-of-home care or on statutory orders. Students remain enrolled at local mainstream schools and attend classes off-campus through St Luke’s. Every student has an Individual Education Plan based on their strengths and interests that includes curriculum options and a focus on their wellbeing and self-confidence. Students attend the program for one to six years before returning to their neighbourhood school or being assisted to take another pathway, such as TAFE studies, apprenticeships or employment.