Levelling the Playing Field
Every year the State Budget gives the Victorian Government an opportunity to envision the kind of society we might want to live in and lead us towards that reality. The Salvation Army’s 2016-17 Victorian State Budget submission is based upon a series of consultations with services across Victoria held towards the end of last year. These consultations highlighted three groups of people that represent some of our state’s most vulnerable citizens:
- Young people leaving state care;
- People exiting prison; and
- Highly marginalised people with complex needs.
The submission explores the specific needs and challenges facing each group, as well as pointing the way to achievable, practical solutions. Whilst these solutions come at a cost, in each case the investment in dealing with them is more effective than doing nothing. Ignoring these social challenges only exacerbates and further entrenches disadvantage resulting in higher costs in tertiary systems. The key proposals are:
Continuing Care Package
Action: The Victorian Government should act to prevent homelessness among care leavers by funding a Continuing Care package that supports young people until they turn 25.
- A Housing Guarantee that subsidises housing costs until the young person turns 25
- Case workers to support each young person to develop independent living skills and engage with education and training
Support for People Leaving Prison
Action: The Victorian Government should fund a broad based housing and support package for people leaving prison to help them integrate into the community and reduce recidivism.
- Two year Stable Housing Subsidy
- Housing Support Workers to help establish and maintain tenancies
- Increased intensive case management support for those with complex needs
Targeted Outreach Support Package
Action: The Victorian Government should fund a targeted outreach support package to ensure people with complex needs get the help they need.
- Assertive outreach workers
- A ‘step up’ option to intensive case management from assertive outreach according to need.
- Priority access to social housing to fast track individuals into safe and stable accommodation
At the time when they need our help the most, the services currently available to these groups are too few and too inadequately resourced. It is here that the gaps in our social safety nets are too large; where we have failed to live up to our own standards that offer everyone in our community a fair go.
The notion of ‘levelling the playing field’ recognises that for some people, life is rigged against them. Early, intergenerational and locational disadvantages constrain opportunities and limit social mobility. However, it doesn’t have to be this way. This submission offers an alternative vision that grants our most disadvantaged citizens a fair go.
These three initiatives will not fix all the problems in our state. But they are good first steps towards a better system. If we can get these three things right, we can free up money that is locked into crisis responses and put it to better use funding initiatives that prevent disadvantage. We call on the Victorian Government to commit to funding the initiatives outlined above and make our communities a better place to live.
To download the full version of The Salvation Army’s 2016-17 Victorian State Budget Submission, click here.