Voices of Victoria

Home > Policy > Policy Library

The second VCOSS Listening Tour wrapped up in August 2023.

It was about listening to Victorians who don’t often get a seat at the table. It is about meeting them in the spaces where they feel comfortable and empowered to tell their stories, and finding out what they need in order to live a ‘good life’.

This is a deceptively simple remit, but what the words ‘a good life’ actually mean is open to interpretation, especially at this specific time as we emerge from the acute years of COVID.

At its most fundamental level, a ‘good life’ is constituted by having basic, universal needs met, such as safe and secure housing, food, healthcare, education and a decent job. These fundamentals are the central tenets that VCOSS advocates for in all our work.

Across the course of the Listening Tour, we also heard about other elements of a good life that are less tangible but still vital. These include human connection and a sense of community.

Photos from the public launch of the Listening Tour

Where we went

VCOSS partnered with Neighbourhood Houses Victoria and other community organisations to host 15 sessions across Victoria – five in regional locations and 10 in metropolitan Melbourne. Each session had a focus on a particular demographic cohort.

1 Dandenong – CALD women
2 Sunshine – young people
3 Bairnsdale – regional communities
4 Northcote – people with disability
5 Berwick – older men
6 Echuca – flood impacted communities
7 Leongatha – regional communities
8 Stawell – community health users
9 Morwell – regional communities

To make sure we were engaging with people who might have specific barriers to attending or might be hesitant to speak up in general sessions, we hosted a number of ‘deep dive’ sessions with specific cohorts. The following sessions were held online or in a central location but were attended by participants from across the state:

10 Student SRC representatives (North Melbourne)
11 Migrant and refugee communities (Carlton)
11 LGBTIQ+ community (Carlton)
12 Public housing tenants (Richmond)
13 Community sector workforce (online)
14 Kinship carers (online)

In addition, individual in-person, online or phone interviews were offered to potential participants who weren’t able to attend a session or didn’t feel confident to share their story in a group setting.

In total, the Tour heard from 317 people. This was
supplemented by 571 Victorians polled through Essential Media

About the report

The report is structured according to overarching themes that emerged over the course of the Listening Tour, such as physical and mental health, housing, employment, loneliness and social isolation, and cost of living.

These are not discrete domains, but rather intersecting and often overlapping ones that should be considered holistically. Someone’s employment status has obvious causal relations from and to their ability to cope with housing and cost-of-living
pressures, as well as social isolation and physical and mental health.

One of the priorities of VCOSS’s wellbeing agenda is for government departments to stop acting in siloed, domain-specific realms and instead take overarching responsibility for all elements of Victorians’ wellbeing.

We would like to see the common refrain change from ‘Does this issue fit into my portfolio?’ to ‘How can I help with this issue?’

To that end, we aim to draw out the intersections and overlaps between different issues and challenges.

Download the report

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.

VCOSS acknowledges the Traditional Owners of Country, and we pay respect to Elders and Ancestors. Our business is conducted on sovereign, unceded Aboriginal land. The VCOSS offices are located on Wurundjeri Woiwurrung land in central Naarm.