“I’m over it” – Victorians share their feelings and hopes after the lockdown years.
Victorians have nominated loneliness and the ‘digital divide’ among their chief concerns, in a comprehensive investigation of community sentiment undertaken by the Victorian Council of Social Service.
VCOSS embarked on a statewide ‘Listening Tour’ from February to May 2022. Twelve face-to-face group consultation sessions were held across regional Victoria and suburban Melbourne, in addition to three online sessions. These were complimented by phone polling.
In total, more than 750 people were engaged in conversation about their life.
“We created a safe place for people to come and tell us about their own lives, in their own words,” VCOSS CEO Emma King said.
“And we spoke with everyday Victorians who don’t ordinarily have their voice heard in policy making.”
VCOSS made sure the sessions were diverse, collecting the views of people from multicultural communities, young people, older people, people with a disability or caring for a person with a disability, parents and carers, Aboriginal people and family violence survivors. Responses were analysed thematically according to location, cohort and age.
Ms King said a series of “cross-cutting themes” emerged, as documented in the Voices of Victoria report.
“Wherever we went, people were tired and frustrated,” she said.
“Concerns about the ‘digital divide’, about access to decent food and housing and about the rising costs of living also featured heavily.”
“These challenges were compounded, people told us, by an overwhelming sense of exhaustion after the hard years of 2020 and 2021.”
“In short, people are over it,” Ms King said.
Listening sessions took place after the COVID lockdowns, but before the war in Ukraine sparked another rise in living expenses.
“This report is essential reading for all policymakers and political parties, especially in an election year,” Ms King said.
VCOSS is recommending a series of policy responses to address the identified challenges, including measures to :
- Support people with meeting their immediate and pressing needs such as cost of living pressures, loneliness and isolation, and housing.
- Invest in the foundations of a ‘good life’ that provide everyone with the opportunity to thrive and protect against poverty, homelessness and poor health over the long term.
- Empower all people to participate fully in community and economic life, and remove barriers to inclusion.
- Commit to Victoria becoming a wellbeing economy, and undertake more consultation to understand how Victorians want this to look.
The VCOSS Listening Tour was held was in partnership with Neighbour Houses Victoria.
You can access the full Voices of Victoria report at vcoss.org.au/VoicesofVictoria
VCOSS is the peak body for Victoria’s social and community sector, and the state’s premier social advocacy body.
We work towards a Victoria free from poverty and disadvantage, where every person and community experiences genuine wellbeing. Read more.
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VCOSS acknowledges the Traditional Owners of Country. We pay respect to Elders both past and present, and to emerging leaders. Our offices are located on the sovereign, unceded land of the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin Nation.