The Victorian Council of Social Service has issued an election-eve call for political candidates in regional areas to refocus their attention on local social challenges.
VCOSS is today releasing The Voices of Regional Victoria, a comprehensive report that compiles and distils the ‘burning social issues’ across 10 of the state’s diverse regional communities, as identified by local charities and frontline service organisations.
VCOSS CEO Emma King wants the report to push the political debate back to the issues that really matter: what people in local communities need to lead safe, healthy and vibrant lives.
“Regional communities face unique, local challenges reflecting their history, character and resources. They demand unique, local solutions,” Ms King said.
“We can’t just leave this up to party leaders and public servants on Spring Street.”
“Every voter in every community should be asking their candidates tough questions about how they’re going to make life better for the region’s poor, sick and lonely.”
The Voices of Regional Victoria makes a series of region-specific observations and recommendations, as well as identifying common priority issues across regional Victoria, including:
- Housing, including rental affordability and social housing.
- Access to healthcare (including bulk billing) and food insecurity
- Transport links within and between regions – not just ‘getting to Melbourne’.
- Cost of living pressures, particularly fuel and internet.
(Note: detailed poverty data for each regional local government area can also be found here.)
To develop The Voices of Regional Victoria, VCOSS undertook 10 stop listening tour featuring roundtable discussions with community organisations.
This listening tour was done in recognition of the fact that many of the solutions to local social challenges already exist within local communities, they’re just not sought out or listened to.
Ms King said regional communities must be valued and heard.
“People living across regional Victorian have the same stake in our democracy as people living in Melbourne.”
“Their needs require the same recognition and respect, and their voices should not be diluted or ignored based on their distance from the corridors of power,” Ms King said.