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.

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

We are working towards a new state disability plan for 2021–2025. The new plan will build on the progress we have already made towards accessibility and inclusion.

The 2021–2025 plan will incorporate 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.

The $6.1 million Disability Liaison Officers program, set up during the pandemic, will continue. This workforce helps Victorians living with disability and their carers to navigate the health system and get medical help and other supports they need, when they need it.53

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. This includes another $1.7 million in the 2021–22 Victorian State Budget.54

We will continue to work with people with disability, advocates, peaks 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.55

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 the 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.

To better support carers, the Victorian Government committed $42 million in the 2019–20 Victorian State Budget 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.56

The Victorian carer strategy Strong carers, stronger children is also offering more support to our carers.

We are listening to the voice of carers. More than 1,700 carers shared their experiences and insights through the Strong carers, stronger children carer census.57 They told us what matters most in providing safe, secure and support for children in care. These contributions are invaluable. They highlight the importance of collaborating with and connecting people across our services and programs.

We are responding to the voices of children in care, and carers, by increasing the support provided to kinship, foster and permanent carers with $101.8 million for care services (2021–22).58

Championing LGBTIQ+ equality

In July 2021 we opened the Victorian Pride Centre. The Pride Centre celebrates, builds and protects equality, diversity and inclusion. It supports work that will continue to benefit the whole community.

We are developing Victoria’s first LGBTIQ+ strategy, which will set a long-term vision for improving the lives of LGBTIQ+ Victorians. The strategy will:

  • 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 will continue to celebrate the diversity of LGBTIQ+ communities through Melbourne Pride 2021. This large-scale event will acknowledge the 40-year anniversary of the decriminalisation of homosexuality.

Achieving gender equality

In 2021 we are rolling out the landmark Gender Equality Act 2020 to improve gender equality. One feature of the new law will address the gender pay gap in more than 300 Victorian public sector organisations.

We have also set up the Office of the Gender Equality Commissioner to improve gender equality. The office will progress our work to support defined entities to meet their obligations under the law.

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:

  • increase the number of women in leadership roles
  • support women in the arts
  • drive cultural change against restrictive gender norms.

Tackling racism and celebrating diverse communities

We have set up the Anti-Racism Taskforce to help develop an anti-racism strategy for the state. The strategy will focus on empowering communities to inform government decisions and reduce systemic barriers to participation.

More than $8 million will help deliver critical programs that support newly arrived refugees, asylum seekers, migrant workers and other in multicultural communities across Victoria.59 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 roll out the Victorian African communities action plan. The 10-year plan was co-designed with Victoria’s African communities.

The work of translating 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. Reforms will see ongoing funding for better pay for interpreters and a smoother approach to whole-of-government purchasing of language services.

Veterans

We will continue to support Victorian veteran wellbeing, recognition and acknowledgement of service. New initiatives will support veterans’ successful transition to, and involvement in, civilian life. This includes $1.3 million over four years to help veterans find a new career within the Victorian Government.60 We have supported more than 700 veterans in this program since 2017.61

Nearly $6 million is being used to restore and upgrade the Shrine of Remembrance.62 This will 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.

We are developing an Ageing Well initiative in partnership with the Senior Victorians Advisory Group. 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 the annual Victorian Seniors Festival to celebrate the contribution of seniors and promote and encourage their participation in community life.

Empowering young people

We are leading a new whole-of-government youth strategy to give young people a stronger voice in decision making across all portfolios. The strategy will empower young people to fully take part in Victoria’s society and economy. A new youth outcomes framework will underpin the strategy, measuring the impact and success of what we do. 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 statewide and place-based programs. The programs work to:

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

This includes $14.33 million to continue the innovative, community-led work of six Community Support Groups that work with vulnerable young people and their families.63

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.64

Young people continue to hold leadership positions that influence the government’s reform priorities and decision making. This includes the Roadmap Implementation Ministerial Advisory Group and the Victorian Youth Congress.

Relief and social recovery during and after emergencies

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

When a large-scale emergency strikes a community, it is the people who make up that community who are hardest hit. 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 suffer greatly during and after a large 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 helps with financial support.

As part of social recovery, we support people and families to regain control and lead on 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 their economic and social participation so people can lead lives that are meaningful to them.

After the immediate emergency had passed, 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.

We recognise that many have found the coronavirus (COVID-19) health emergency challenging. For some, it is an extremely difficult experience. This includes for families and older people who are isolating with perpetrators of family violence and experiencing increased violence, as well as young people with mental health issues.

Those worst affected included people with casual or insecure employment, young people, women working in care services, and people from CALD communities in low-wage employment who lost jobs or had hours reduced.

People living in public housing estates with high numbers of people living in close contact, and with limited means, are at greater risk from coronavirus (COVID-19).

CALD communities need tailored and accessible communication approaches to engage with public health advice. To address this the Victorian Government invested $12.1 million in the CALD Communities Taskforce, which includes $5 million for accessible communications during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, through the Victorian State Budget 2020–21.65

The Victorian Government will continue coronavirus (COVID-19) prevention, preparedness, response and recovery efforts. We will respond to any outbreaks in high-risk accommodation including:

  • disability residential settings in collaboration with the Commonwealth
  • high- and low-rise public housing
  • some community housing.

The response works to ensure the right public health measures are in place to protect the safety and wellbeing of residents. It ensures adequate, culturally appropriate and accessible services are available to residents and proprietors. This includes health and social services, food and essential supplies and community engagement strategies. We also offer:

  • mobile coronavirus (COVID-19) testing to residents of high-rise towers
  • personal protective equipment advice via health concierges
  • enhanced cleaning regimes for public housing.

The response is supporting almost 30,000 facilities and dwellings including:66

  • 57 high-rise public housing towers
  • more than 1,400 other types of public housing
  • 117 Supported Residential Services.

This targeted response also encourages residents in high-risk accommodation to get a coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine. It better links vulnerable people to broader health and social supports, including social recovery.

During recovery from the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic we will coordinate initiatives that promote the economic security and health and wellbeing of:

  • Aboriginal people
  • women
  • young people
  • veterans
  • LGBTIQ+ communities
  • people with disability
  • multicultural communities.

We will also support the community services sector through the rest of the coronavirus (COVID-19) health emergency. We will ensure lessons from this period are well embedded in future responses.

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:

  • help prepare for emergencies
  • provide relief services during these events
  • coordinate social recovery in a way that is collaborative and respectful.

This will include using new approaches like the person-centred housing model rolling out in the North Melbourne and Flemington public housing estates. The community action plan introduced into the North Richmond and South Melbourne public housing estates is another example. These initiatives will improve community safety and security.

Our work will also include:

  • continuing services and supports for temporary visa holders, including asylum seekers and refugees
  • working with the Food Relief Taskforce established by the Victorian Government to strengthen Victoria’s community food relief system so those who need help can get it
  • providing opportunities for Victorians to reconnect with one another, building on community social infrastructure like neighbourhood houses, Men’s Sheds and Universities of the Third Age
  • delivering a Victorian volunteer strategy to strengthen volunteering in Victoria and the communities it supports.

We will also work across government alongside Jobs Victoria to include social procurement and other employment approaches for people in need.

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.

Visit our website for more information about these initiatives.

References

53 Source: Premier’s Media Release, ‘Keeping People Connected And Included As We Recover’, 20 May 2021

54 Source: Premier’s Media Release, ‘Keeping People Connected And Included As We Recover’, 20 May 2021.

55 Source: Australian Bureau of Statistics, Disability, Ageing and Carers, Australia: Victoria, 2018, Table 1.1.

56 Source: Victorian Budget Paper 3 2019-20, pp. 50, 54

57 Source: Strong carers, stronger children, 26 July 2021

58 Source: Victorian Budget Paper 3, 2021–22, p. 46

59 Source: Victorian Budget Paper 3, 2021–22, p.47

60 Source: Victorian Budget Paper 3 2021–22, p.47

61 Source: Internal data from Veterans, Fairer Victoria, August 2021

62 Source: Victorian Budget Paper 3 2021–22, p. 47

63 Source: Premier’s Media Release, ‘Building Stronger Communities Across The State’, 20 May 2021

64 Source: Premier’s Media Release, ‘Building Stronger Communities Across The State’, 20 May 2021

65 Source: Premier’s Media Release, ‘No One Left Behind: More Support for Victorians in Need’, 7 June 2021

66 Source: Internal data from High-Risk Accommodation Response (HRAR), 09 August 2021