Victorian communities are safe, fair, inclusive and resilient

To make Victoria safer and more equal, all people need to be able to have a say, feel valued and fully take part in society.
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We can achieve our outcome goal by:

  • striving for a more accessible and inclusive Victoria for people with disability
  • addressing inequality and promoting inclusion for LGBTIQ+ communities 
  • striving for gender equality and increasing women’s economic participation in Victoria 
  • partnering with multicultural communities to foster an inclusive, engaged and harmonious multicultural community in Victoria
  • providing veterans with the support they need to transition to civilian life
  • empowering young people to fully take part in the social, economic and civic life of our state
  • ensuring we are prepared, responsive and adaptive in crises and emergencies
  • respecting and valuing senior Victorians and supporting them to age well
  • elevating the voice of Victorians experiencing multiple and intersecting forms of disadvantage
  • providing opportunities for Victorians to connect with one another and to expand their personal networks
  • ensuring carers have the support they need to continue their important work.

To make Victoria safer and more equal, all people need to be able to have a say, feel valued and fully take part in society. This is regardless of sex, gender, sexuality, race, class, age or disability. The department works to address structural barriers to getting involved, including racism, ableism, ageism and other forms of discrimination. This is in line with our responsibilities under the Victorian Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities Act 2006.

The department recognises that people may experience overlapping forms of discrimination or disadvantage based on various attributes. It is important to apply an intersectional lens to understand and address the unique needs of individuals and communities.

This does not just mean leading the nation on gender equality. It includes helping veterans find their place in society and decreasing their risk of suicide and self-harm. It means helping seniors feel valued and giving young people a voice.

It means working to end violence against older people and people with disability. It means valuing the contribution carers make to society every day by looking after people in need of care.

This is work that needs to occur in all metropolitan, regional and rural areas of Victoria. We will connect and collaborate with community groups to ensure we are elevating our diverse group of voices. We will listen to how these groups can be best assisted, respected and celebrated.

Accessibility and inclusion for people with disability

The Victorian Government has launched Inclusive Victoria: State Disability Plan 2022–2026 and invested $15.1 million over the next two years to make the plan a reality. The new plan builds on the progress we have already made towards accessibility and inclusion.

The 2022–2026 plan incorporates lessons from the response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. This includes recognising the specific needs of people with disability in emergency planning, responses and communications.

We will keep engaging with the Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of People with Disability to:

  • advocate for sector-wide improvements
  • promote effective policies, programs and actions taken to build a more inclusive Victoria
  • help deliver a successful NDIS
  • increase the social and economic participation of people with disability.

We will continue to support the critical role of Victoria’s disability advocacy sector in championing the voice and rights of people with disability.

We will continue to work with people with disability, advocates, peak bodies and the sector to inform our role as a steward of the NDIS. We are reviewing the Disability Act 2006 following the full rollout of the NDIS and will keep promoting inclusion, participation and the rights of people with disability. It is important that Victorian legislation is modern and fit-for-purpose for the more than 1.1 million Victorians with disability.1

Our department will also develop and roll out a forensic disability service plan. The plan will improve the way we work with people with cognitive impairment who are involved, or at risk of involvement in, the criminal justice system. This plan will help people get the support and treatment they need, when they need it, and keep them and the wider Victorian community safe.

Caring for carers

Carers make an invaluable contribution to our community. They give their time to care for a family member, partner or friend who needs them.

Recognising and supporting Victoria’s carers: Victorian carer strategy 2018-2022 was the first whole of government strategy to recognise and support the important role of Victorian carers.

To better support carers, the Victorian Government committed $42 million in the Victorian State Budget 2019/20 to support an extra 100,000 hours of respite for 5,000 carers a year. Innovative programs to support the health and wellbeing of carers are being delivered with over $6.56 million over four-years through two grants programs: Supporting Carers Locally and Statewide Partnership Grants. Carer card benefits have been expanded and include concession fares on public transport, free weekend travel and free travel during Carers Week.2

In mid-2022, the Support for Carers Program (SCP) was recommissioned, increasing the number of providers and expanding the program’s reach into regional Victoria and increasing opportunities for innovation, partnerships and diversity. As a result of the recommissioning, the Support for Carers Program will expand from 44 provider agencies to 62 including 24 SCP regional and rural providers. 

The Victorian Government remains committed to supporting the near three-quarter million unpaid carers who selflessly look after loved ones. In 2022, an evaluation of the strategy will be undertaken and inform a refresh of the Strategy in 2023.

Additional funding in the Victorian State Budget 2022/23 will also support the continued delivery of the Career Pathways into Employment for Unpaid Carers program, which will ensure carers can access tailored employment support into the disability, community services and aged care sectors.3

Championing LGBTIQ+ equality

In 2022, we released Victoria’s first LGBTIQ+ strategy, Pride in our future: Victoria’s LGBTIQ+ strategy 2022-32, which provides the vision and plan for improving the lives of LGBTIQ+ Victorians. The strategy aims to:

  • support work across government to update Victorian legislation that discriminates against LGBTIQ+ Victorians
  • support LGBTIQ+ inclusive and accessible services
  • promote inclusion across our society.

We are partnering across government to implement the strategy, including by administering the Pride Events and Festivals Fund, LGBTIQ+ Organisational Development Grants and the LGBTIQ+ Leadership Program.

The Victorian State Budget 2022/23 includes $14.7 million to implement the LGBTIQ+ Strategy, $3.2 million of which will go towards trialling safe spaces for LGBTIQ+ young people in western Victoria, to provide access to targeted mental health and wellbeing support close to home.4

We will continue to celebrate diversity and support inclusion for LGBTIQ+ communities, by delivering a state-wide event (formerly named Melbourne Pride), developing a public awareness campaign to address LGBTIQ+ discrimination, delivering state-wide LGBTIQ+ inclusion training and continuing to deliver the Trans and Gender Diverse Peer Support Program.

Achieving gender equality

Through our support to the Commission for Gender Equality in the Public Sector, we are continuing to progress the implementation of the landmark Gender Equality Act 2020. The Commission is working to embed Gender Impact Assessments across government policies, programs and services, and the delivery of the State Gender Equality Action Plan.

Over the next two years, we will continue to fund economic participation programs for women affected by structural barriers to employment and financial security. We will also deliver programs to support women’s health, wellbeing and safety, and remove structural barriers to leadership for women.

As part of a whole-of-government approach to driving gender equality, our department is also refreshing Victoria’s Gender Equality Strategy for release in 2022-23. We are working closely with the Department of Treasury and Finance to embed gender responsive budgeting practices across government and promote economic equity for women, particularly in response to the recommendations of the Inquiry into Economic Equity for Victorian Women.

Tackling racism and celebrating diverse communities

Guided by the Anti-Racism Taskforce, we are progressing the development of a whole-of-government anti-racism strategy for Victoria. The strategy will focus on achieving long-term behaviour change across the wider Victorian community.

We also continue to deliver on commitments from the government response to the Parliamentary Inquiry into Anti-Vilification protections, which will strength human rights and equal opportunity for all Victorians.

An additional $6.7 million invested in 2022-23 - on top of the more than $8 million allocated last year - will help deliver critical programs that support newly arrived refugees, asylum seekers, migrant workers and others in multicultural communities across Victoria.5 These programs will ensure all members of our community have access to the services and supports they need.

We continue to celebrate and support diverse communities with grants for multicultural festivals and events. We also support multicultural seniors’ groups to stay connected. We continue to invest in multicultural community facilities and infrastructure, including through the Multicultural Community Infrastructure Fund. The fund builds cultural connections, helps create jobs and spurs on the economy. 

We also continue to support the implementation of initiatives under the Victorian African Communities Action Plan. The 10-year plan was developed in partnership with Victoria’s African communities through the African Ministerial Working Group (convened between 2017 and 2018) and seeks to improve social and economic outcomes for Victorians of African heritage. Key programs being delivered under VACAP include the Employment Brokers initiative, the Homework Clubs program, the School Community Liaison Officer program and Project Sunrise, a drug and alcohol outreach program for young people.

The work of translation and interpreting services is more important than ever, as highlighted by the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Making sure every Victorian understands what they can do to reduce their risk of coronavirus (COVID-19) is key to slowing its spread. Reforms are underway to support a high-quality and sustainable language service sector in Victoria, including ongoing funding for better pay for interpreters and a smoother approach to whole-of-government purchasing of language services.

Supporting veteran wellbeing

We will continue to support Victorian veteran wellbeing, recognition and acknowledgement of service. The 2022-23 Victorian Budget allocates new funding of $4.8 million over two years to support the wellbeing of veterans and ensure their service and sacrifice is remembered. New initiatives will support veterans’ successful transition to, and involvement in, civilian life. This builds on the $1.3 million over four years allocated in the 2021-22 Victorian Budget to help veterans find a new career within the Victorian Government.6 To date we have supported more than 980 veterans in this program since 2017.7

The Royal Commission into Defence and Veteran Suicide has highlighted systemic issues and the ongoing mental health challenges experienced by veterans. The Victorian Government is providing $500,000 to deliver additional tailored support to the families and loved ones of veterans over 18 months.8

Nearly $6 million is being used to restore and upgrade the Shrine of Remembrance.9 This will help ensure we continue to recognise the contributions of veterans to our state and our country.

Celebrating seniors and supporting them to age well

We are delivering policies and programs to support seniors to age well and increase their social and community participation.

In 2022-23 we will implement Ageing well in Victoria: An action plan for strengthening wellbeing for senior Victorians 2022-2026 in partnership with the Senior Victorians Advisory Group, which reflects our whole-of-government commitment to support Victorians to enjoy the benefits of living longer as respected members of our community. The Senior Victorians Advisory Group is chaired by the Commissioner for Senior Victorians and includes seniors representatives and community organisations. Together, we are identifying opportunities to link up programs and services to better address seniors’ needs, including through digital inclusion.

We are also delivering a reimagined Victorian Seniors Festival, with online, radio and live programming, to celebrate the contribution of seniors and promote and encourage their participation in community life. This year’s Seniors Festival will mark its 40th anniversary.

We will also commence a joint project with Services Victoria to provide digitised cards to Seniors Card, Carer Card and Companion Card holders.

Empowering young people

We are delivering a new whole-of-government youth strategy to improve outcomes for young people and give them a stronger voice in decision making across all portfolios. The strategy is empowering young people to meaningfully contribute to Victoria’s society and economy. A new youth outcomes framework is underpinning the strategy, measuring the impact and success of our programs. It will also highlight areas needing more attention and cross-portfolio teamwork.

We partner with the youth sector and local governments to deliver a range of state-wide and place-based programs, through the $1.7 million investment in the Victorian State Budget 2022/23 for the Empower Youth program, Scouts Victoria and Girl Guides programs.10 These programs work to:

  • strengthen young people’s health and wellbeing
  • improve education, training, skills development and career pathways
  • maximise participation in the community.

We are continuing to invest in infrastructure projects that meet the needs of local communities now and into the future. This includes delivering more than 20 Scout Hall upgrades and new builds across the state. The upgrades are supported by a $5.5 million Victorian Government contribution matched by Scouts Victoria and local community partners. This brings the total investment in scouting infrastructure to $11 million over four years.11

We are also ensuring that young people continue to hold leadership positions that influence the department’s reform priorities and decision making. This includes the Roadmap Implementation Ministerial Advisory Group and the Victorian Youth Congress.

Strengthening communities

We are delivering policies and programs that enable strong communities and provide opportunities for community participation through volunteering and local community social infrastructure such as neighbourhood houses and men’s sheds.

In the context of declining volunteer numbers within the community due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Victorian Government has launched Victoria’s new Volunteer Strategy which provides a five-year plan to revitalise, reimagine and strengthen volunteering in Victoria.

A key priority in implementing the strategy is to encourage people who have previously volunteered to return, while growing and diversifying the pool of Victorian volunteers. The strategy also provides a roadmap of practical improvements to strengthen volunteering into the future.

We are also supporting Victorians experiencing vulnerability to access essential services and food through the concessions program, financial capability programs, and food relief. 

More than $43 million has been allocated to boost food relief since the beginning of the pandemic, aimed at enhancing the capacity of the sector and providing meals and food to people in need. 

An important part of the response has also been to focus on strengthening the sector into the future. Investments within the food relief sector are supporting:
  • the continuation of the Victorian Food Relief Taskforce to bring together key stakeholders to provide sector leadership and advice
  • enhanced operational capacity of regional food hubs to create a network of six regional hubs and establish more efficient collection and distribution of donations
  • the transport of food around Victoria
  • a new grants program to trial innovative ways of providing healthier food to people.

Relief and social recovery during and after disaster or emergency

Relief and social recovery services aim to ensure people are safe, stable and secure. During natural disasters and emergencies, the department coordinates support to ensure people have emergency shelter and can access targeted psychological support. Victoria’s Personal Hardship Assistance Program which the department administers helps with financial support.

We know from climate change forecasts, emergencies such as bushfires, floods, extreme weather and pandemics will occur more often. Over the next two years, we will work with communities, across government and with other service partners to support Victoria’s social recovery from major emergencies including natural disasters.

When a large-scale emergency strikes a community, the basic functions of everyday life can be severely affected, including:

  • the roof over their heads
  • a person’s sense of belonging and connection to their community
  • access to essential services such as psychological supports.

People’s health, safety and wellbeing can be impacted greatly during and after large-scale events.

As part of social recovery, we support people and families to regain control and lead the recovery decisions and processes that will reshape and rebuild their lives. We support people to rebuild their sense of belonging and connection to their community. This includes economic and social participation, helping people lead lives that are meaningful to them.

After the immediate emergency has passed, a range of other social recovery initiatives support Victorians to recover over time. This includes specific approaches for those who experience emergencies in different ways such as youth, families and seniors. We help them come to terms with the trauma associated with the emergency.

Social recovery supports link local residents to assistance such as information and advice, mental health support or financial counselling.

Over the next two years, we will modernise, strengthen and embed the emergency management framework within the department. We will work with communities and partners to:

  • share the responsibility for preparing for, and responding to, emergencies
  • coordinate relevant regional-level relief services for major emergencies
  • coordinate regional and state tier social recovery services for major emergencies
  • provide lead response support for the functional area of human services and community wellbeing during and after a major emergency, with a focus on child protection, housing, disability, the prevention of family violence, multicultural affairs, LGBTIQ+ equality, veterans, women and youth.

COVID-19 management

The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has been a challenging time for all Victorians, and we recognise that, for some members of our community, there have been even greater impacts.

Throughout the pandemic, our department has worked closely with sector partners to support members of our community who are at greatest risk of adverse health and social outcomes as a result of COVID-19, for example, CALD communities, public housing residents, people with disability, people experiencing homelessness or living in other insecure accommodation, and more.

In the third year of the pandemic, with high rates of vaccination coverage, Victoria is transitioning to living with COVID-19. This means that government, business, the community, and individuals will collectively embed COVIDSafe behaviours to continue to manage risk effectively and protect workers, families, and the community. We are now in position to scale back COVID-related programs, maintaining response levels in line with public health directions.

We remain committed to keeping Victorians safe during the pandemic, so Victorian Government has allocated $11.5m in the Victorian State Budget 2022/23 to our continuing COVID-19 activities in 2022, which will enable a targeted focus on supporting Victorians at greatest risk of impacts from COVID-19.

We will work closely with our sector partners, the Department of Health, Local Public Health Units and the COVID Positive Pathways Program to sustainably embed COVID-19 case management supports. This includes specialised capability for supporting people who live in sensitive, high-risk settings, and those who have additional support needs.

We will also continue to operate two specific isolation accommodation and supports for people experiencing homelessness and children and young people known to Child Protection until December 2022.

The department will administer grants to support better health outcomes for multicultural communities and will deliver the Local Partnerships Program in the 12 locations hardest hit by COVID-19. We will also continue to deliver guidance and information to the community services sector to support COVIDSafe service provision, and to promote employment approaches that enable accessible services for diverse communities.

Through the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic we have seen the positive impact community leaders and organisations have made to highlight the strength and resilience of local communities. This is a testament to the character of Victorians.

We have also seen communities build relationships and trust with the department. We are committed to sustaining these relationships and continuing our collaborative approach. This will see benefits and improvements beyond current emergencies such as the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Explore our website for more information about these initiatives.