Victoria can address the cost-of-living crisis and pursue long-term change.
A note from VCOSS CEO Juanita Pope
Victoria is in the grip of a cost-of-living crisis.
People are being priced out of housing, food, energy, and medical care. Debt repayments are surging. Wages are not.
Having enough money to pay for basic services and afford essential items has become the dominant concern for Victorians on low incomes.
We see evidence of this crisis in our streets. People sleeping rough, families lining up for food, and renters queueing to inspect a home they probably can’t afford anyway. Many more suffer out of sight.
Unscrupulous market operators are seizing on this moment, seeking to make profits from people’s pain.
The net result is more Victorians being pushed into poverty, getting sick, withdrawing from their community, and seeking government assistance to get by.
The perilous ‘long tail’ of the pandemic and more frequent disasters are adding fuel to this fire.
This is a significant economic and social challenge. But it’s one we can meet through wise investment and courageous systemic change.
Victoria must make solving the cost-of-living crisis a top priority in the 2024-25 budget.
And the solutions must be long-term. Not just band aids for today, but a bedrock of equity for generations to come.
We propose a combination of:
- targeted assistance measures to prevent people hitting rock bottom,
- calculated investments to strengthen social services and promote community wellbeing and healing, and
- a renewed focus on prevention and early intervention across a range of social policy areas.
But it’s not good enough to ‘stop people falling through the cracks’. We need to plug the gaps so there’s no risk of falling.
That’s why we also recommend broader policy changes, detailing inclusive ways Victoria can combat climate change, end violence against women, advance First Nations self-determination, improve justice outcomes, support people with disability and raise government revenue.
It’s not good enough to ‘stop people falling through the cracks’. We need to plug the gaps so there’s no risk of falling.
To achieve success, Victoria must engage effectively with lived experience through meaningful co-design processes and grow the evidence base of what works, through smart investments in innovation, research and evaluation.
The community sector plays a significant role in delivering these objectives. But social service organisations are doing it tough too, with rising workforce costs, declining volunteering and new compliance obligations making it ever more difficult to make ends meet with surging demand for services.
Our submission repeatedly calls for more funding – and better funding terms – for community service organisations. Now more than ever, our sector must be properly resourced to deliver safe, reliable and effective services that support community wellbeing for all.
VCOSS, our members, and the wider community sector stand ready to play our vital part in combating the rising cost-of-living and supporting every Victorian to lead a good life.
The wellbeing of Victoria depends on it.
VCOSS acknowledges the Traditional Owners of Country. We pay respect to Elders past and present, and to emerging leaders. Our business is conducted our business on sovereign, unceded Aboriginal land.