Unemployment, under-employment and stagnant wages are often in the headlines. One solution that is regularly pitched for these issues is large infrastructure projects – like the level crossing removals, the Metro Tunnel, the West Gate Tunnel project, new schools, new hospitals and many more.
While infrastructure developments are very much needed to keep pace with Victoria’s growing population, the jobs created tend to be temporary and the cost involved extremely high.
What if there was an industry that needed workers in long-term, secure jobs to fill a gaping need in our community? What if that industry was large and growing, and vital to Victoria?
That industry is, of course, community services.
The community services industry earns around $15 billion a year in income (only around half from government). It employs more people than other key industries, such as:
- Public administration and safety
- Financial and insurance services
- Wholesale trade.
Employment in the industry has been growing rapidly and this is expected to continue due to the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS), the Victorian Government’s response to the Royal Commission into Family Violence, and an ageing and growing population.
As well as growing, the industry is rapidly changing, shaped by developing social, economic and technological trends. Together with Commonwealth and state reforms such as the NDIS and changes in Family Violence services, the industry is going through change at an unprecedented rate.
VCOSS, other industry peak bodies and the Victorian Government have acknowledged and sought to assist the industry through this period of change and growth.
In March 2017, VCOSS and the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) hosted a forum that brought together over 100 community service leaders, academics and government representatives to discuss how government and industry, working in partnership, can prepare for the anticipated changes and trends in community services.
A working group was established following the forum, comprised of community services peak bodies and department representatives, co-chaired by VCOSS and DHHS.
VCOSS held extensive consultations with the industry, and took the consultation process directly to regions across Victoria, visiting Benalla, Traralgon, Bendigo and Wyndham. We consulted with service users and carers.
We held another forum in May 2018 that confirmed 14 strategic priorities for the industry and an overall vision for community services.
All of this consultative and collaborative work fed into the 10-Year Community Services Industry Plan.
The plan articulates a future vision and the steps required to achieve it. It will assist the industry to adapt and respond to the changes and challenges we face, and to grasp the opportunities that may arise.
VCOSS and DHHS will continue to collaborate with our partners in other peak bodies, government departments and the industry to implement the actions in the plan. An implementation plan is now in development and will be completed by the end of 2018.