A State of Wellbeing Victorian Budget Submission 2020-21 - VCOSS

 
A State of Wellbeing Victorian Budget Submission 2020-21 - VCOSS
A State of
Wellbeing
 Victorian
  Budget
Submission
 2020–21
A State of Wellbeing Victorian Budget Submission 2020-21 - VCOSS
The Victorian Council of Social
Service is the peak body of the social
and community sector in Victoria.
VCOSS members reflect the diversity
of the sector and include large
charities, peak organisations, small
community services, advocacy
groups and individuals interested
in social policy.
In addition to supporting the sector,
VCOSS represents the interests of
Victorians experiencing poverty and
disadvantage, and advocates for the
development of a sustainable, fair
and equitable society.

    /vcoss
    @vcoss
    ChannelVCOSS
    vcoss.org.au

Authorised by:
VCOSS CEO Emma King.
Media enquiries:
VCOSS Communications
Manager, Ryan Sheales.
ryan.sheales@vcoss.org.au
Design by Louisa Roubin.
Printed by Indigi-Print.

VCOSS acknowledges the
traditional owners of country and
pays respect to past, present and
emerging Elders. This document
was prepared on the lands of the
Kulin Nation.
A State of Wellbeing Victorian Budget Submission 2020-21 - VCOSS
A State of Wellbeing

 2 Introduction
 3	Priority recommendations
 4	Equitable and inclusive communities
14	Secure and safe homes
21	A safe and just Victoria
29 Affordable living
38 Victorians in work
45	A strong community services industry
51	Stronger early childhood education
    and schools
57	Thriving children and families,
     free from violence
62 Healthy Victorians

                                                1
A State of Wellbeing Victorian Budget Submission 2020-21 - VCOSS
Victorian Budget Submission 2020–21

    Making
    Victoria a state
    of wellbeing
                                          Economic prosperity                  Most importantly, becoming a
                                          alone is no longer a good            wellbeing economy would provide
                                                                               the framework for Victoria to
                                          measure of community                 measure the success of policies,
                                          wellbeing, if it ever was.           and make changes where
                                          Victoria needs a new way             necessary.
                                          to conceptualise, pursue             Growing Victorians’ sense of
                                          and measure progress.                wellbeing will take time. But with
                                                                               the right policies in place to ensure
                                          We need to proudly and loudly        every Victorian gets a great
                                          articulate our overarching social    education, has a safe place to call
                                          goals, and match these bold          home, works a rewarding job, can
                                          aspirations with concrete targets,   afford the basics and has the
                                          timeframes and accountabilities.     necessary support to stay healthy,
                                                                               change is possible.
                                          This will be achieved by Victoria
                                          becoming a wellbeing economy.        This document makes the case for
                                                                               a shift to a wellbeing economy, and
                                          Making this leap would require       lists dozens of positive policies that
                                          traditional budget processes and     would help Victorians live a better
                                          the machinery of government itself   life.
                                          to evolve to put pursuit of
                                          wellbeing at the centre of all       Internationally, there is growing
                                          decisions.                           focus on how to improve
                                                                               community wellbeing through the
                                          Adopting this wellbeing lens would   sustainable growth and distribution
                                          create a framework for               of financial, social, human, and
                                          departments and ministers to         environmental capital.
                                          make funding bids for programs
                                          that achieve this greater goal. It   Victoria is perfectly placed to lead
                                          would allow the government to        this conversation here in Australia.
                                          group together otherwise disparate
                                          programs and initiatives.

                                                                    Emma King VCOSS CEO

2
A State of Wellbeing Victorian Budget Submission 2020-21 - VCOSS
A State of Wellbeing

Priority recommendations
Shift to a modern                   Urgently boost funding to            Stop stealth funding cuts
wellbeing budget                    frontline mental health              to community organisations
This would deliver a bold and       Mental health services can’t         Not indexing funding for
overarching framework to            wait until after the Royal           community organisations
direct investments into key         Commission for funding relief.       means support is shrinking
areas of government reform,         An immediate boost is needed         in real terms. We must fix
including housing, early            to keep services running             this decline, so vulnerable
childhood, justice and              properly and supporting              Victorians don’t miss out
family violence.                    Victorians in need over              on the care they need.
                                    the coming year.
                           PAGE 4                              PAGE 64                           PAGE 45

End the damaging funding            Progress self-determination          Launch a public and
‘drip-feed’ to service              for Aboriginal Victorians            community housing
providers                           Ensure Treaty and moves              construction blitz
Multi-year funding deals for        towards self-determination           Build 6,000 new public and
social service organisations        are led by Aboriginal people,        community housing properties
will provide financial certainty,   and take the remaining               each year, on a rolling basis,
allowing them to deliver better     practical steps that are             so every Victorian has a place
support to more people over         necessary to support                 to live and raise their family.
the long term.                      these reforms.

                          PAGE 46                               PAGE 7                           PAGE 14

Make homes safe and                 Close service gaps for               Continue the pivot to
liveable for low-income             people with disability               crime prevention
Victorians                          Buck passing between the             Build on recent advances
This involves mandating and         NDIS and other systems must          to shift Victoria’s justice
enforcing meaningful energy         stop. We need to improve             approach towards crime
efficiency standards for rental     how disability services              prevention. This would involve
properties and investing more       connect and collaborate with         identifying and funding new
money into energy-related           health, education, justice,          opportunities for offender
home upgrades.                      housing and out-of-home              diversion and restorative
                                    care.                                justice projects.
                          PAGE 31                               PAGE 7                           PAGE 21

Make public education               If a young person is in state        Support communities to
genuinely affordable                care, look after them until          confront climate change
Victorians’ first-hand              they’re 21                           Community organisations are
experience of sending their         Keeping Victorians in state          on the frontline of climate
kids to a government school         care for three more years,           change, helping communities
is that a public education          until their 21st birthday, will      adapt, prepare and weather
isn’t truly free. Make it so.       make them more likely to             the storm. Give them the
Fund schools to the proper          lead a safe, happy, healthy          tools and support they need
limit so all hidden costs           and fulfilling life.                 to do the job properly.
can be abolished.
                          PAGE 52                              PAGE 59                           PAGE 47

                                                                                                             3
A State of Wellbeing Victorian Budget Submission 2020-21 - VCOSS
Victorian Budget Submission 2020–21

    Equitable
    and inclusive
    communities
    Victorians are very                   All Victorians, no matter who they        Removing the barriers that prevent
    diverse, in cultural                  are, are entitled to a safe, dignified    people fully participating in society,
                                          and fulfilling life. However, many in     and adopting an approach that
    background, age, gender,              our community—including people            makes inclusion and wellbeing
    sexuality and physical                with disability, Aboriginal and           everybody’s business, will benefit
    and cognitive ability.                Torres Strait Islander Victorians,        all Victorians.
    This diversity should                 carers, older Victorians and
                                                                                    The Victorian Government can
                                          LGBTIQ people—are subject to
    be recognised and                                                               do more to strengthen the voices
                                          discrimination and accessibility
                                                                                    of diverse Victorians, and consider
    celebrated.                           challenges that lead to poorer
                                                                                    how every policy decision and
                                          wellbeing, making it harder to
                                                                                    budget allocation will make Victoria
                                          live a good life.
                                                                                    more equitable and inclusive.

    Shift to a wellbeing                  Countries like New Zealand,               By adopting a Wellbeing Budget,
                                          Scotland and Iceland are rising           Victoria would continue to lead
    budget
                                          to this challenge by becoming             the nation in social policy.
    Declare a ‘wellbeing economy’,        wellbeing economies. Under this
                                                                                    We would have a bold and
    and begin planning for our            model, all branches of government
                                                                                    overarching framework to direct
                                          are responsible for improving
    first Wellbeing Budget.                                                         investments in housing, early
                                          community wellbeing through
                                                                                    childhood, justice and family
                                          budget priorities, policy-making
    Prosperous societies have                                                       violence, underpinning key areas
                                          and reporting.
    more than good balance sheets;                                                  of ongoing government reform.
    they have vibrant and liveable        This year New Zealand delivered
                                                                                    To help guide this decision-making
    communities, they champion            its first Wellbeing Budget, requiring
                                                                                    and monitor progress,
    dignity and fairness, and they        all new spending to advance one
                                                                                    comprehensive data collection
    have healthy and happy citizens.      of five wellbeing priorities, including
                                                                                    and analysis would also be
                                          improving mental health, reducing
    Fostering community wellbeing                                                   necessary.
                                          child poverty and combatting
    is a core responsibility for all
                                          Indigenous disadvantage. Ministers
    governments, from the basic
                                          must demonstrate the wellbeing
    needs for food, housing and
                                          impacts of budget proposals, and
    safety to civic engagement and
                                          explain any trade-offs between
    participation in democracy.
                                          environmental, social, human
                                          and financial capital.

4
A State of Wellbeing Victorian Budget Submission 2020-21 - VCOSS
A State of Wellbeing

                       5
A State of Wellbeing Victorian Budget Submission 2020-21 - VCOSS
Victorian Budget Submission 2020–21

                                          Ivy
    Equitable                             Four-year-old Ivy Atwell has a rare, life-limiting genetic condition and is
    and inclusive                         profoundly disabled. With no voluntary movement, Ivy has outgrown baby
    communities                           change tables and now needs a fully accessible bathroom.
                                          Programs like Changing Places, which upgrade bathroom infrastructure
                                          in public spaces, have proven to be a game changer.
                                          “Changing Places help keep our family connected with the community
                                          through the confidence of knowing Ivy can go to the bathroom with dignity,”
                                          according to her dad, Glen.
                                          “Every person should be able to travel around their community safely
                                          and with ease.”
                                          “Changing Places are no longer seen as an ‘optional extra’ but
                                          necessary facilities to ensure people with severe disabilities,
                                          and their carers, remain socially engaged,” he says.

6
A State of Wellbeing Victorian Budget Submission 2020-21 - VCOSS
A State of Wellbeing

Progress                              No wrong doors for                      prisons, or aged care facilities
                                                                              due to NDIS planning or
self-determination                    Victorians with a
                                                                              decision-making issues or a lack of
for Aboriginal                        disability                              appropriate services. As of July 2019,
Victorians                                                                    80 Victorian patients with disability
                                      Agree with the Commonwealth
                                                                              were stuck in hospital for more
Ensure Treaty and                     on ‘provider of last resort’            than three months after they were
self-determination are                arrangements.                           ready for discharge because of
led by Aboriginal people.                                                     NDIS-related or service delays.
                                      Build interface capacity between
                                                                              Unclear processes and planning
                                      state-based systems and the NDIS.
Aboriginal and Torres Strait                                                  can also contribute to delays to
Islander people have the longest                                              discharge or release from prison.
                                      The transition from the old             Women and children with disability
surviving continuous culture in the
                                      state-based system of disability        may also be unable to escape family
world, and possess a proud and
                                      support to the National Disability      violence without access to specialised,
rich history and identity.
                                      Insurance Scheme (NDIS) is almost       accessible crisis supports.
VCOSS believes the best               complete. VCOSS continues to
outcomes for Aboriginal people                                                In addition, the ‘provider of last resort’
                                      support this landmark social policy
will come when policies and                                                   function traditionally undertaken
                                      reform, which reorients disability
programs are shaped and led                                                   by the Victorian Government has
                                      support from an ‘old welfare’ model
by the expertise of Aboriginal                                                become disputed and unclear.
                                      of rationed support to a rights-based
communities.                                                                  Without appropriate and responsive
                                      social insurance scheme.
                                                                              crisis and provider of last resort
By championing Aboriginal             However, the scheme is yet to           arrangements, vulnerable Victorians
ways of knowing, being and doing,     deliver on its full promise, and as     will be unable to access timely
Victoria can support Aboriginal       service and funding gaps continue       support and may be forced to stay
people to overcome the health         to emerge or grow, people with          in inappropriate or unsafe settings.
and wellbeing inequities that have    disability experiencing disadvantage
been created by dispossession,                                                During this time of significant system
                                      and isolation are almost always
marginalisation and discrimination,                                           disruption, service gaps have also
                                      the first to fall through the cracks.
and compounded by the top-down                                                emerged for Victorians with disability
policy approaches of the past.        The complexity, scale and pace          who are not eligible for individual
                                      of the NDIS has disrupted how           NDIS funding and rely on ‘universal’
Self-determination is essential.      disability services connect and         government systems, such as
Closing the gap will require          collaborate with mainstream             health, to meet their needs.
a shift in power and control          services, in particular, state-based
away from government and                                                      We recognise recent investments
                                      systems such as health, education,
mainstream organisations towards                                              towards an NDIS Transition Support
                                      justice, housing, child protection
community-owned solutions.                                                    Package for community mental
                                      and out-of-home care.
                                                                              health services for people with
The Victorian Government’s            In theory, the interface between        psychosocial disability, and
commitment to Treaty is significant   NDIS and mainstream service             acknowledge the Victorian
and historic. But Aboriginal people   systems is supported by Coalition       Government as a strong advocate
have been let down by governments     of Australian Governments (COAG)        at COAG through the Disability
too many times to count. The
                                      principles, bilateral agreements        Reform Council. However, more
Treaty-making process must
                                      and state-based practice                work is required to build interface
deeply respect the cultures,
                                      guidelines. However, on the ground,     capability and capacity across and
traditions and structures of
                                      the lack of clarity, coordination and   within state-based, state-funded
Aboriginal communities.
                                      services, and the increase of plain     systems and with the NDIS.
                                      and simple buck passing, means
                                                                              A refreshed National Disability
                                      people with the most complex
                                                                              Strategy, underpinned by the
                                      needs are being caught short.
                                                                              State Disability Plan, is desperately
                                      For example, there are many             needed to ensure there is no wrong
                                      Victorians who are eligible for the     door for any Victorian with disability
                                      NDIS, or are likely to be eligible,     seeking the supports they need to
                                      who are marooned in hospitals,          live an ‘ordinary life’.

                                                                                                                           7
A State of Wellbeing Victorian Budget Submission 2020-21 - VCOSS
Victorian Budget Submission 2020–21

                                            Recurrent, expanded advocacy            Strengthen gender
    Equitable                               funding would help organisations
                                                                                    equity
    and inclusive                           plan for the future and reach more
    communities                             Victorians with disability, including   Immediately increase funding
                                            those in marginalised communities       to the women’s health and
                                            and those who have previously           gender equity sector.
                                            missed out on advocacy. With
                                            every $1 invested in disability         Tie future funding to population
                                            advocacy proven to save
    Provide adequate                                                                growth.
                                            taxpayers $3.50,4 it also makes
    funding for disability                  compelling economic sense.
                                                                                    Gender discrimination and
    advocacy                                                                        inequality is a serious challenge
    Free disability advocacy
                                            End stigma and                          facing Victoria. Women earn

    organisations from the                  discrimination against                  roughly 15 per cent less than
                                                                                    their male colleagues and retire
    rollercoaster ride of                   LGBTIQ Victorians
                                                                                    with barely half as much in
    short-term funding.
                                            Increase focus on LGBTIQ                superannuation, and they are
    Boost core funding to help              inclusion.                              over-represented in part-time,
    disability advocacy organisations                                               insecure and low-paid jobs.
                                            Provide ongoing funding                 Damaging gender stereotypes
    meet demand.
                                            to LGBTIQ programs.                     also persist in the media and the
                                                                                    community, warping notions of
    Disability advocates promote,
                                                                                    how women should look and act.12
    protect and defend the human            Victoria has a proud track record
    rights of people with disability.       celebrating, supporting and             Gender equality benefits
    Disability advocacy is an important     empowering LGBTIQ people,               everyone: it makes people safer by
    safeguard to help prevent, report       including support for Safe Schools,5    preventing violence against women
    and respond to abuse.1                  the creation of a high-level LGBTIQ     and girls, encourages economic
                                            Taskforce,6 establishing a Victorian    growth by engaging more people
    But the most important funding
                                            Pride Centre and allowing trans         in the workforce, and promotes
    sources for this critical sector—
                                            and gender diverse people               dignity, respect and fairness.
    boosted core funding and
                                            to easily affirm their sex on their
    short-term grants provided                                                      The Victorian Government has
                                            birth certificate.7
    through the Victorian Disability                                                recognised this and is pursuing
    Advocacy Futures Plan2 and              Despite this, LGBTIQ people             gender equity through Safe and
    related Commonwealth funding—           are still more likely to experience     Strong: A Victorian Gender Equality
    both run out in June 2020.              mental ill-health, engage in            Strategy.
                                            self-harm, and consider and
    Advocacy organisations can’t do                                                 But at the same time, women’s
                                            attempt suicide.8
    their job properly while paralysed                                              health and gender equity services
    by short-term funding cycles and        The Victorian Government can            have experienced a funding cut
    preparing for the next funding cliff.   further boost the health and social     in real terms since 2011.13 This
    The current funding uncertainty         outcomes of LGBTIQ people by            is compromising their capacity to
    has coincided with an increase          adopting an increased focus on          deliver programs related to gender
    in demand and in complexity of          inclusion and recognition.9 Such        equity, sexual and reproductive
    cases, as a result of the NDIS          an approach would include making        health, and the prevention of
    and other changes to disability         public spaces more inclusive,10         violence against women.
    services.3 Regional and rural           considering intersectionality in
                                                                                    Ensuring funding growth can keep
    disability advocacy services are        all government services and
                                                                                    pace with population would help
    particularly affected.                  providing secure and ongoing
                                                                                    the Government achieve its vision
                                            funding to LGBTIQ programs
    The advocacy sector requires                                                    of a gender equitable state.
                                            so they can continue to deliver
    increased investment to respond to
                                            essential services.11
    demand pressures associated with
    both the NDIS and its mainstream
    interfaces.

8
A State of Wellbeing

Tackle loneliness                        Neighbourhood Houses are              Governments can support
                                         another initiative helping people     place-based responses to
among Victorians
                                         engage and connect with               building community wellbeing
Develop and resource a strategy          communities. They enable people       by providing local communities
to reduce loneliness among               of all abilities, backgrounds and     with ‘backbone funding’ for
at-risk Victorians.                      ages to connect, learn and share in   management, coordination
                                         an inclusive environment. This is a   and governance and to develop
                                         cost-effective way of combatting      and deliver initiatives.
Loneliness might not sound like
                                         loneliness and social isolation,
a serious threat, but research
has shown that social isolation
                                         improving people’s wellbeing and      Give people with
                                         reducing their reliance on acute
and loneliness impede people’s
                                         health services.
                                                                               disability dignity
physical and mental health, and
can actually pose a bigger risk to                                             Build more public changing
people’s wellbeing than smoking          Deliver local,                        facilities.
or air pollution.14                      place-based solutions
Loneliness is unique to each                                                   Every person should be able to
                                         Establish a social innovation         access a public bathroom that is
individual. It can be triggered by
                                         fund to support place-based           accessible and fit for purpose.
a life event like moving house or
losing a partner. Or it can be a
                                         solutions.                            However, there are only 36
life-long experience, extending                                                assisted change facilities for adults
                                         Provide communities with
into people’s senior years.                                                    with a disability in Victoria, despite
                                         ‘backbone funding’ to manage
Because of this diversity there                                                recent government investments
                                         and deliver initiatives.
is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ program                                              in this space. More ‘Changing
that can combat loneliness.                                                    Places’ facilities need to be built.
                                         Poverty and disadvantage are
VicHealth found one in eight                                                   Fully accessible and inclusive
                                         concentrated geographically.
people aged 16–25 reported                                                     universal design practices
                                         This means that Victorians living
a very high intensity of loneliness.15                                         should also be embedded in the
                                         in some areas are much more
Similarly, WA research shows                                                   development of all new public
                                         |likely than others to get trapped
seven per cent of seniors report                                               spaces, to provide greater
                                         in cycles of entrenched and
severe loneliness, with higher                                                 inclusion and ensure all Victorians
                                         intergenerational poverty.17
levels reported by single people,                                              can access our public spaces with
those living alone, and people           Complex issues like entrenched        dignity and ease.
with poor health.16                      disadvantage need solutions that
                                         empower communities. Effective
The most effective way to relieve
                                         place-based approaches bring
loneliness is to help people feel
                                         together community members,
connected to a community.
                                         empowering local people to
Communities don’t need to be
                                         develop and drive their own
united by geography—they might
                                         innovative solutions over the
be online (for example, for LGBTIQ
                                         long term. They help build stronger
young people), or united by shared
                                         communities that are equipped to
interests or hobbies.
                                         help people get jobs and overcome
Men’s Sheds are a well-known             disadvantage.
community initiative that tackles
                                         Communities have their own
loneliness, focusing on men who
                                         unique profiles, strengths and
are no longer in paid employment,
                                         weaknesses. What works in one
whether because of retirement,
                                         place will not necessarily work
redundancy, health issues or other
reasons. Men’s Sheds participants        in others. To be successful,
build and repair things for the          place-based responses need to
community, but the benefit for           build on existing collaborations
participants is coming together          and community resources, and
to build relationships and find          be flexible and adaptable enough
meaningful purpose.                      to suit local circumstances.

                                                                                                                        9
Victorian Budget Submission 2020–21

     Equitable
     and inclusive
     communities

     Further
     strategies

     Support people with lived
     experience and peak bodies to
     engage in reform processes.
     People with lived experience—           A national community attitudes             accessible cross-cultural and
     including of poverty, disability,       survey supported by the Victorian          trauma-focussed training. It can
     family violence or homelessness—        Government was undertaken in               also improve access to services
     have insights essential for             2018,19 looking at attitudes that          by providing information about
     successful system design                impact the social and economic             them in a range of languages, and
     and service delivery. Similarly,        participation of people with disability.   providing access to interpreters
     organisations that are governed         Collecting this data was a positive        and translators, including Auslan.
     by people with relevant lived           first step towards the development
     experience—like LGBTIQ groups,          of more inclusive attitudes. The           Adopt a gender lens in budget
     disability organisations and            Victorian Government can now               and policy-making.
     consumer-led services—help              invest in targeted work to promote         The Victorian Government can
     ensure policy reform and service        inclusion, such as campaigns to            help overcome the inequalities
     design are genuinely suited to          raise community awareness and              experienced by women by
     people’s needs.                         counteract negative stereotypes.           embracing gender impact
     Large reform processes, including                                                  assessment, gender budgeting
                                             Build a more inclusive                     and gender auditing.
     Royal Commissions, must value
                                             community services workforce.
     the input of people with lived                                                     Adopting such a gender lens
     experience to inform them               People need health and
                                                                                        would allow the Government to
     (including by paying for their time).   community services to work
                                                                                        be more attuned to how policies
     Peak and representative bodies          in a responsive, safe and flexible
                                                                                        and programs affect women,
     need additional resources to            manner. A workforce that is
                                                                                        and therefore to reduce gender
     increase their capacity to              representative of the community
                                                                                        inequality, combat harmful gender
     participate in policy reform.           it serves (e.g., in terms of culture,
                                                                                        stereotypes and empower women.
                                             disability, language and sexual
     Launch a campaign to improve            orientation) will be better equipped       This could be accompanied by the
                                             to understand and respond to               production of an annual Victorian
     community attitudes towards
                                             people’s needs.                            Gender Equity Report, which
     people with disability.
                                                                                        would track the impact of Victoria’s
     Community attitudes are a critical      Workforce diversity is crucial
                                                                                        gender equity and violence
     factor in disability inclusion.         to ensuring that services are
                                                                                        prevention investments over time.
     Negative attitudes can lead to          provided in the most appropriate
     significant barriers in a range of      and safe way. The Government
     areas including health, education       can provide community service
     and employment.18                       organisations with affordable and

10
A State of Wellbeing

Combat elder abuse.                     For example, the Marram Nganyin        Ongoing commitment is needed
Research shows that about one           program supports the development       to monitor the implementation of
in six older people experience          of Aboriginal youth mentoring          the Strategy, set clear timelines,
abuse.20 Victoria needs a               across Victoria. However, the          and engage carers themselves
whole-of-government strategy            program received just one year         in decision-making.
to respond to this scourge and          funding in the 2019–20 budget.
improve older people’s wellbeing        Further support is required so
and inclusion in the community.         programs like Marram Nganyin
                                        can help more Aboriginal children
This strategy could include
                                        and young people to reach their
ongoing support for local elder
                                        potential.
abuse prevention networks,
funding training so frontline staff
                                        Implement the Victorian carer
can detect and respond to abuse,
                                        strategy.
and investing in specialist services.
It would need to be designed in         One in eight Victorians is an unpaid
a genuine partnership with older        family or friend carer.23 Carers
people and their advocacy               report many positive aspects of
organisations, and recognise            their role, like companionship,
both the damaging impact of             satisfaction and fulfilment; but it
ageism and the importance               can also take a toll. Carers are at
of intersectionality.21,22              risk of poor mental health, and of
                                        financial drains that can make it
Provide Aboriginal young people         a struggle to make ends meet.24
with mentoring opportunities.           In July 2018, the Victorian
Aboriginal children and young           Government launched Victoria’s
people are best supported by            first whole-of-government strategy
culturally appropriate services built   in this space, the Carer Strategy
on Aboriginal definitions of identity   2018–22. The Strategy sets out
and wellbeing. Mentoring programs       ways to recognise and support
can provide this kind of support, as    carers, to improve their health,
well as opportunities to build role     wellbeing and ability to participate
models, strengthen cultural health      in school or work.
and connect people together.

                                                                                                                     11
Victorian Budget Submission 2020–21

                                                 10	For example, see YMCA Victoria,          20	COTA Victoria, Victorian State
                                                     I saw the sign: Gender neutral toilets       Election Platform, 2018, p.12
     Equitable
                                                     about more than just signage, http://
                                                                                              21	Australian Law Reform Commission,
     and inclusive                                   victoria.ymca.org.au/news-events/
                                                                                                  Elder Abuse: A National Legal
     communities                                     news/i-saw-the-sign-gender-neutral-
                                                                                                  Response, June 2017
                                                     toilets-about-more-than-just-
                                                     signage.html, accessed 25                22	COTA Victoria, Victorian State
                                                     October 2019                                 Election Platform, 2018

                                                 11	L Barber, ‘Victorian Government          23	Department of Health and Human
                                                     awards switchboard $80,000 grant             Services, Recognising and
     1	VCOSS, Submission to the Victorian
                                                     to support LGBTI seniors’, Star              supporting Victoria’s carers:
        Parliament’s Inquiry into Abuse in
                                                     Observer, April 12, 2019                     Victorian carer strategy 2018–2022,
        Disability Services: Stage 2,
                                                                                                  June 2018
        November 2015                            12	Gender Equity Victoria, Gender
                                                     equity statistics, https://www.genvic.   24	T Hill, C Thomson, B Cass,
     2	Victorian Government, Victorian
                                                     org.au/resources/gender-equity-              The costs of caring and the living
        Disability Advocacy Futures Plan
                                                     statistics, accessed 25 October              standards of carers, Department
        2018–20, 2018
                                                     2019                                         of Families, Housing, Community
     3	DARU, Disability Advocacy by the                                                          Services and Indigenous Affairs,
                                                 13	Gender Equity Victoria, Victorian
        Numbers: Statistics from July 2012                                                        2011
                                                     Gender Equity Investment 20/21
        to June 2016 from the Victorian
                                                     State Budget Submission, 2019
        Office for Disability Advocacy
                                                     (unpublished)
        Program Quarterly Data Collection,
        July 2017                                14	VicHealth, Loneliness: a new public
                                                     health challenge emerges, https://
     4	A Daly, G Barrett, R Williams,
                                                     www.vichealth.vic.gov.au/letter/
        A Cost Benefit Analysis of Australian
                                                     articles/vh-letter-47-loneliness,
        independent disability advocacy
                                                     accessed 25 October 2019
        agencies, the Disability Advocacy
        Network Australia, September 2017        15	VicHealth, Community survey of
        (the government savings figure is            young Victorians’ resilience and
        based on the estimated savings that          mental wellbeing, December 2015
        could be made in education, health,
                                                 16	Commissioner for Senior
        justice and other government
                                                     Victorians, Ageing is everyone’s
        services)
                                                     business: a report on isolation and
     5	G Alcorn, ‘From safe injecting to Safe       loneliness among senior Victorians,
        Schools: Victoria’s social reform at         January 2016
        stake’, The Guardian, 15 Nov 2018
                                                 17	T Vinson and M Rawsthorne,
     6	Victorian Government, LGBTIQ                 Dropping off the Edge 2015:
        Taskforce                                    Persistent communal disadvantage
                                                     in Australia, Jesuit Social Services
     7	SF Koob, ‘‘Momentous night’:
                                                     and Catholic Social Services
        Victorian birth certificate reform
                                                     Australia, 2015
        passed’, The Age, 28 August 2019
                                                 18	D Thompson, K Fisher, C Purcal,
     8	The National LGBTI Health Alliance,
                                                     C Deeming, P Sawrikar, Community
        The statistics at a glance: the mental
                                                     attitudes to people with disability:
        health of lesbian, gay, bisexual,
                                                     scoping project, Social Policy
        transgender and intersex people
                                                     Research Centre, University of New
        in Australia, July 2016
                                                     South Wales, for the Commonwealth
     9	The National LGBTI Health Alliance,          of Australia, 2011
        ibid; ACON, ‘The impacts of marriage
                                                 19	Centre of Research Excellence in
        equality and marriage denial on the
                                                     Disability and Health, Community
        health of lesbian, gay and bisexual
                                                     Attitudes towards People with
        people’, September 2016
                                                     Disability survey, https://credh.org.
                                                     au/projects/current-projects/
                                                     community-attitudes-towards-
                                                     people-with-disability, Accessed
                                                     14 October 2019

12
A State of Wellbeing

        All Victorians, no matter who they are,
   are entitled to a safe, dignified and fulfilling life.
The Victorian Government can do more to strengthen
  the voices of diverse Victorians, and consider how
every policy decision and budget allocation will make
        Victoria more equitable and inclusive.

                                                                   13
Victorian Budget Submission 2020–21

     Secure and
     safe homes
     Having a safe place to call           But for many Victorians, this basic   Building more houses, integrating
     home is the foundation of             human right is out of reach. Nearly   health and social services with
                                           25,000 Victorians are homeless on     housing, preventing evictions and
     wellbeing. A secure and               any given night. And rising rents,    making renting fair will underpin all
     safe home is more than                an unaffordable property market       other progress towards providing
     shelter; it’s a place to stay         and a vast housing waiting list are   a good life for all Victorians.
     warm, clean, healthy and              pushing more people to the brink
                                           of homelessness.
     well. It’s the enabler of a
     good life for people in all
     walks of life.

     Launch a sustained                    Without enough public and             Three hundred of these new homes
                                           community housing, Victorians         should be for Aboriginal Victorians,
     public and community
                                           who need it might be struggling to    who are experiencing the fastest
     housing construction                  maintain private rental               growth of homelessness in the
     blitz                                 accommodation, paying more rent       nation.28 Roughly 10 per cent
                                           than they can afford, going without   of homelessness services are
     Build 6,000 new public and            essentials for daily life, or         Aboriginal services, despite
     community housing properties          languishing on the edge of            Aboriginal people making up only
     each year.                            homelessness.                         0.8 per cent of the Victorian
                                                                                 population.29
                                           That’s why Victoria needs a
     In 2019, the Victorian Government     sustained public and community        The new housing should be well
     followed through with a               housing blitz to meet the demands     located, and the construction mix
     commitment to address the state’s     of our growing population and         should address the current
     chronic shortage of public and        provide quality, affordable homes     mismatch in supply and demand.
     community housing by building         for all.                              For example, both women needing
     1,000 new properties over four                                              a one-bedroom home and larger
     years.                                At least 6,000 new public and
                                                                                 families needing multiple bedrooms
                                           community houses should be built
     But more than 82,000 Victorians                                             are currently missing out because
                                           each year for the next 10 years.
     remain on the wait list for public                                          these kinds of homes aren’t
                                           We need this much to keep pace
     and community housing,25 and this                                           available.
                                           with population growth, to house
     figure is tipped to hit 100,000 by    Victorians on the wait list and       This entrenched problem needs a
     mid-2020. Public and community        those living in extreme housing       sustained solution. Acting now will
     housing currently makes up just       stress.27                             prevent worsening the housing
     3.2 per cent of all housing in                                              crisis currently facing the Victorian
     Victoria, well below the national                                           community and the Victorian
     average of 4.5 per cent.26                                                  Government.

14
A State of Wellbeing

                       15
Victorian Budget Submission 2020–21

                                           Vanessa
     Secure and                            Vanessa Robinson’s young sons were killed in 2010 when a faulty gas heater
                                           began leaking poisonous gas into the family’s rented Mooroopna home.
     safe homes
                                           Ms Robinson—who now runs the Chase and Tyler Foundation in her sons’
                                           honour—says all rental homes must be safe and liveable.
                                           She says new regulations currently being finalised that will require rental
                                           properties to meet a minimum safety standard must be clear and tough.
                                           “We want to make sure that when we go home to our families and to
                                           our loved ones, that nothing terrible is going to happen.”
                                           “Renting out your property is essentially a business. And in business
                                           we have basic OH&S that we have to adhere to. Why is it not like that
                                           in a rental property?”

16
A State of Wellbeing

Tackle homelessness by                    Join the dots between                   Deliver strong rental
stopping unnecessary                      housing and mental                      law changes to protect
evictions                                 health                                  tenants’ rights
Increase eligibility for services         Integrate housing and mental            Keep working with the
designed to keep people in                health support services.                community sector on the fine
their homes.                                                                      detail of rental reform.
                                          Create a safety net between
                                          prison release and mental health        Launch a communications
The best way to prevent more
                                          treatment, and homelessness.            campaign explaining the new
Victorians from becoming homeless
                                                                                  laws, specifically to CALD,
is to support people to keep the
                                          More than a quarter of the adults       elderly and other vulnerable
housing they already have.
                                          and young people who use                communities.
Victoria doesn’t have many private        Victoria’s homelessness services
rental properties that are available      are also living with a mental health    The Victorian Government has
and affordable for people on fixed or     issue.26 The two problems are           made historic changes to rental
low incomes. People are therefore         inexorably linked.                      laws. They come at a time when
forced to make tough decisions to
                                          The Royal Commission into               the unaffordable housing market
secure a property and pay the rent.
                                          Victoria’s Mental Health System         means more people, including
Budgets are stretched to breaking         has been described as a                 families and older people, are
point, leaving very little wiggle room    once-in-a-generation opportunity        renting, and renting for longer.
if something goes wrong. At times,        for improvement. But the Royal          In broad terms, the changes
these tenants need a bit of help to       Commission will be unable to            abolish unfair ‘no specified reason’
stay in their homes, or face the          deliver on this promise unless          evictions, make it easier for people
prospect of homelessness.                 Victoria’s critical shortage of         to make minor modifications or
The Victorian Government can              housing is addressed.                   have pets, and put a cap on rent
support people as soon as they            A home is the foundation for            increases.
are at risk, by investing more in         a healthy life, including mental        But the detailed work to give force
homelessness prevention services.         wellbeing. It plays a key role across   to the new laws, and ensure they
This might mean legal assistance to       the continuum of mental illness         deliver real changes for Victorian
fight an eviction notice or assist with   prevention, early intervention,         tenants, is ongoing.
negotiating a rental payment plan,        response and recovery.
financial support to manage rent in                                               The regulations need to explicitly
                                          Victoria should scale-up models that
arrears, or drug, alcohol or mental                                               define the types of modifications
                                          integrate housing and responsive
health assistance at a service close                                              allowed, the information that must
                                          mental healthcare and support,
to home.                                                                          be disclosed to tenants and the
                                          across both the private rental
                                                                                  evidence required for legal eviction.
Numerous services already exist,          market and public and community
                                                                                  To exercise their new rights,
like Tenancy Plus and the Tenant          housing. These models should
                                                                                  tenants must also be well
Assistance and Advocacy Program.          reflect best practice operation and
                                                                                  educated about the changes.
But access to them depends on             embrace ‘housing first’, step up/
what kind of housing you are in,          step down and multidisciplinary         The Victorian Government has
where that housing is, whether you        service-based approaches.               already been working closely
can get to a service and how risky                                                with the community sector to
                                          To break the cycle of homelessness
your situation is.                                                                draft the required regulations.
                                          and mental illness, more also needs
                                                                                  When the regulations are finalised,
Once people are homeless it is much       to be done to secure housing for
                                                                                  there must be a well-designed
more difficult for them to get the        people leaving mental health
                                                                                  communication campaign about
support they need. Victoria must          inpatient facilities and prisons—
                                                                                  people’s rights under the new laws,
modernise the state’s fragmented          including child prisons—so they
                                                                                  that targets information at diverse
housing system so it can help             don’t exit into homelessness.
                                                                                  and vulnerable communities,
people before they’re at the pointy       These investments will ensure the       including people with disability
end of the homelessness crisis.           Royal Commission can deliver on         and older people.
                                          its promise of better mental health
                                          outcomes for Victorians.
                                                                                                                          17
Victorian Budget Submission 2020–21

                                            Champion accessible housing            Switch to a broad-based land tax.
                                            standards.                             Stamp duties encourage property
     Secure and
                                            Our housing standards are not          speculation, dampen economic
     safe homes                                                                    activity, fall heavily on young buyers
                                            suitable for many people with
                                            disability, older people and other     and discourage people moving to
                                            diverse community needs. Only          better homes or new jobs. They
                                            five per cent of Australian homes      also leave the Victorian Treasury
                                            are fully accessible. Simple           hostage to the volatile housing

     Further                                changes to the building code, such
                                            a requiring adequate door widths
                                                                                   market. We can develop a more
                                                                                   stable, efficient and fair system

     strategies                             and step-less shower recesses,
                                            would make homes more liveable
                                                                                   by progressively replacing stamp
                                                                                   duties with a broad-based land
                                            for people with different needs.       tax. This should occur with
                                            The Victorian Government can           appropriate concessions,
                                            help provide accessible homes          exemptions and deferrals.
                                            by supporting the incorporation
                                            of accessibility standards in the
     Mandate inclusionary zoning.
                                            National Construction Code.            25	Parliament of Victoria, Inquiry into
     The Victorian Government can                                                      the Public Housing Renewal
     accelerate the increase of public      Invest in emergency housing                Program (Final Report), June 2018
     and community housing by               options.                               26	Department of Health and Human
     encouraging the private sector to                                                 Services, Housing Assistance:
                                            More public and community                  Additional Service Delivery Data
     play its part. ‘Inclusionary zoning’
                                            housing is the key to addressing           2018–19, September 2019
     requires developers to include
                                            homelessness, but until the            27	T Burke, Quantifying the shortfall of
     public and community housing
                                            shortfall is plugged, more emergency       social and affordable housing, CHIA
     among new apartments.
                                            and crisis accommodation is                Vic, 2016
     Victoria builds about 30,000 new       needed. Family violence services       28	N Khalidi, Aboriginal Population and
     apartments every year. Making          report they are increasingly being         Households Projections, 2016–2036,
     sure a percentage of these are         forced to accommodate vulnerable           Victoria, Aboriginal Housing Victoria,
     public housing would provide                                                      June 2019
                                            women and children escaping
     many more Victorians with a home,      family violence in motels. Other       29	Australian Institute of Health and
     and help shorten public housing                                                   Welfare, Specialist Homelessness
                                            people are turned away from
                                                                                       Services 2017–18: Victoria,
     waiting lists.                         emergency housing providers, or            September 2019
                                            accommodated in rooming houses
     Make public housing energy                                                    30	Australian Institute of Health and
                                            or other unsuitable options.               Welfare, Specialist Homelessness
     efficient and healthy.
                                            People who do find emergency               Services Collection 2016–17, 2018.
     Many vulnerable Victorians             housing are staying longer than
     live in poorly insulated public        anticipated, because there are
     housing properties, with inefficient   no longer-term options available.
     appliances and limited ability to      The Victorian Government can
     stay warm or cool in winter or         help those in crisis by funding
     summer. To provide the energy          more flexible emergency
     efficient public housing that          accommodation.
     Victorians need, existing programs
     that upgrade the energy efficiency
     of public housing can be
     expanded, including the Energy
     Smart Public Housing Project.

18
A State of Wellbeing

 Simple changes to the building code, such a
requiring adequate door widths and step-less
 shower recesses, would make homes more
   liveable for people with different needs.

                                                           19
Victorian Budget Submission 2020–21

20
A State of Wellbeing

A safe and
just Victoria
A just legal system                     Victoria’s prison population keeps      Instead, contact with the system
                                        growing—it increased seven per          causes harm and consequences
treats everyone fairly,
                                        cent in 2018 alone. The cost to the     disproportionate to the nature of
and upholds basic human                 budget now exceeds $1 billion,31        the offence, entrenching criminality
rights. It is time to reorient          but all this money spent locking        and leading to a vicious cycle that
our justice system away                 people up doesn’t reduce crime or       benefits no one.
                                        make communities safer. We need
from costly punitive                                                            By focusing on strong local
                                        to change our response to legal
approaches and towards                                                          communities, early resolution
                                        need and offending behaviour.
                                                                                of problems and supporting
prevention of crime                     We need evidence-based, targeted
                                                                                the health and wellbeing of
and early resolution                    local solutions that work.
                                                                                people returning from prison,
of legal problems.                      For many people, encountering           the Government can help
                                        the criminal justice system does        make Victoria safer and fairer
                                        not deter them from further crime.      for everyone.

Pivot to crime                          The Victorian Government recently       crime has been committed there’s
                                        launched a Crime Prevention             usually harm caused to people,
prevention
                                        Taskforce and there is bipartisan       relationships and community.
Reorient the focus of justice           support for including rehabilitation    Restorative justice focuses on
policy towards crime prevention.        in the purposes of the Corrections      repairing this harm.
                                        Act.32 These first green shoots of
                                                                                It brings together the offender and
Identify opportunities for              reform provide an opportunity for
                                                                                the victims to acknowledge the
diversion and restorative justice.      a fresh approach to law and order
                                                                                harm, consider how best to repair
                                        that prioritises preventing crime.
                                                                                it, and prevent similar harm in the
Preventing crimes before they           We can do more to divert people         future. This process is often
occur benefits everyone. It keeps       from entering the justice system        transformative, creating fundamental
the community safer, avoids costly      in the first place, through investing   changes for individuals, relationships
prison sentences and reduces            in community-based drug and             and communities. More than
the negative on-going effects of        alcohol, mental health, housing         80 per cent of young people who
imprisonment on people’s health         and education support programs.         participated in a Jesuit Social Services
and wellbeing.                          Crime prevention programs that          restorative justice programs in
                                        target children and young people        Melbourne had not reoffended two
People who commit crimes are
                                        experiencing problems at school         years later, compared to 57 per cent
more likely to live in poverty, be
                                        and at home, or who have used           of the comparison group.34
unemployed and have experienced
                                        alcohol or drugs, can set them on
trauma, neglect and victimisation.                                              The Victorian Government has
                                        a different path, away from the
Addressing crime means working                                                  the opportunity to reframe our
                                        justice system.33
with high-risk communities to                                                   criminal justice system, towards
identify local, place-based solutions   We can also do more to address          evidence-based programs that work
to the economic and social factors      and repair the damage done when         to prevent crime, tackle its causes,
that drive people to offend.            crimes are committed. Restorative       address harm and build connections
                                        justice recognises that when a          to family, community and culture.

                                                                                                                           21
Victorian Budget Submission 2020–21

                                             to imprison young people can          The money allocated to a new
                                             entrench offending behaviour for      child prison in Melbourne’s
     A safe and                              life. Instead of funneling children   west would be better spent on
     just Victoria                           into a punitive system, the           intensive, therapeutic community
                                             Victorian Government should           interventions. However, recent
                                             support children to thrive in         decisions to scale-down the new
                                             the community.                        Cherry Creek detention facility
                                                                                   and retain Parkville Youth Justice
                                             Children under 14 should be
                                                                                   Centre for young women and the
     Keep kids at a safe                     in school, not prison. Yet in
                                                                                   youngest boys is a step in the
     distance from the                       Victoria, children as young as
                                                                                   right direction.
                                             10 can be charged with crimes
     criminal justice                        and sentenced to jail time. This      The Government could keep the
     system                                  is despite all the evidence that      community safer by funding and
                                             children aren’t just mini adults.     expanding innovative programs
     Raise the age of criminal               Developmentally, children are         that divert young people away from
     responsibility to 14 years.             very different to adults. They        the prison system, from their first
     Expand programs designed to             do not reflect on their actions       interaction with police through
                                             or understand long-term               to ongoing support.
     divert young people away from
                                             consequences in the same way.
     the criminal justice system.                                                  Diversion programs give young
                                             The Sentencing Advisory Council       people the support they need to
     Close child prisons over the            estimates that if children are        grow out of offending and turn their
     long term.                              arrested before they are 14,          lives around. They give first-time
                                             they are three times more likely      or low-level offenders the chance
     Sending children to prison should       to continue to become involved        to avoid a criminal conviction
     only be an option of absolute           in crime throughout their life.36     through activities that help them
     last resort.                            By raising the age of criminal        to understand the reasons they
                                             responsibility to 14 years old, and   offend and encourage them to
     When young people get sent to
                                             introducing more age-appropriate      take a different path.
     prison, the root cause is commonly
                                             interventions for those young
     a major problem in their own life:
                                             children who do offend, the
     trauma, abuse, illness, or trouble at
                                             Victorian Government can build
     home or school.35 Being too quick
                                             stronger and safer communities.

                                   The Government could keep the community safer
                                    by funding and expanding innovative programs
                                    that divert young people away from the prison
                                    system, from their first interaction with police
                                             through to ongoing support.

22
A State of Wellbeing

Provide legal                         Victoria’s community legal               Community-justice partnerships
                                      services work primarily with people      also play a critical role, providing
assistance early so
                                      experiencing complex forms of            integrated community, health
problems don’t                        disadvantage. Youthlaw reports           and legal support. There are
escalate                              that 80 per cent of the young            opportunities to expand
                                      people they help have a mental           community-justice partnerships,
Boost funding to community            illness. Similarly, 84 per cent of the   including with youth services,
legal centres, and provide            women accessing the Women’s              homelessness and family
dependable funding for                Homelessness Prevention Program          violence services. However, many
‘community-justice partnerships’,     have a mental illness.37                 successful community-justice
so all Victorians can benefit                                                  partnerships receive only seed
                                      So-called ‘tough on crime’ policies
from free, timely and accessible                                               funding or one-year contracts,
                                      have increased demand for legal
legal assistance.                                                              making it difficult to recruit and
                                      assistance, especially among
                                                                               retain quality staff, and plan for
                                      groups subject to racial profiling
The Victorian Government                                                       the future.
                                      and inequitable justice outcomes,
can stop people’s legal issues        like Aboriginal and Torres Strait
escalating to full-blown crises by    Islander communities and people
ensuring all Victorians can access    of colour. Some legal centres have
free community legal assistance       been forced to ration services
when they need it.                    and apply strict eligibility criteria.
For example, if a person is facing    The Victorian Government can
eviction and possible homelessness,   help people resolve their legal
a lawyer could help them strike       problems quickly, and prevent
a new payment plan or fight an        them escalating, by providing
unjust eviction. Or a community       community legal centres with
lawyer could help a person facing     more funding to meet demand.
financial stress to reduce
outstanding toll fines or wipe
an unfair payday loan debt.

                                                                                                                      23
Victorian Budget Submission 2020–21

                                            Change the way we                        Infringement matters that still
                                                                                     proceed to the Magistrates Court
     A safe and                             approach fines and
                                                                                     and involve people experiencing
     just Victoria                          infringements                            mental illness, homelessness,
                                                                                     family violence or addiction should
                                            Make toll companies chase their
                                                                                     continue to be dealt with by the
                                            own debts in the civil system.
                                                                                     Special Circumstances List.
                                            Retain the Magistrates Court             The Special Circumstances List
                                                                                     allows for cases to be heard in a
     Stop releasing people                  Special Circumstances List.
                                                                                     therapeutic setting, by a Magistrate
     from prison into                       Expand the Work and                      with understanding of the
     homelessness                           Development Permit Scheme.               complexities of people’s lives.
                                                                                     For people with significant fine
     Make well-funded, long-term
                                            Fines and infringements are              debt, the Work and Development
     transition support available
                                            disproportionately issued to             Permit Scheme helps them pay
     to all people leaving prison.          people experiencing mental illness,      off fines by participating in work,
                                            homelessness and family violence,        training, medical treatment or
     Allowing a person to leave prison      and are felt most acutely by people      counselling. But there are more
     without a place to live sets them      on low incomes. They push people         people who need the scheme than
     up for failure. They are more likely   into a cycle of debt and criminal        organisations who can deliver it.
     to fall straight into poverty, drift   enforcement, and condemn whole           The Victorian Government can help
     into homelessness, use drugs           families to a life of poverty.           more Victorians reduce their debts
     and commit crimes.38 Under this                                                 by better promoting the scheme
                                            Pursuing toll fees in criminal
     scenario people are unlikely to be                                              and encouraging more community
                                            courts turns a private debt into a
     able to engage with education and                                               and medical services to become
                                            crime, and transfers money owed
     employment, quickly leading into                                                sponsors.
                                            to private operators into a debt to
     a vicious cycle.
                                            the Victorian Government, inflated
     The problem arises because             many times over by ‘additional
     existing discharge planning is         fees’. Despite welcome action by
     inadequate, and transition support     some toll operators to introduce
     programs are over-subscribed           hardship policies, there are still too
     and provide assistance for only        many debt cases clogging up the
     a few months.                          courts. The Victorian Government
     Long-term transition support           should immediately shift toll fee
     programs—which begin engaging          enforcement to the civil system.
     with people inside prison and
     continue after they’re released—
     would improve people’s quality
     of life and prevent reoffending.
     Almost all Victorian prison
     inmates will eventually return to
     the community. About one-third of
     people in prison have a sentence
     of less than two years. The
     Victorian Government could
     cut recidivism and make the
     community safer by guaranteeing
     no person will be released from
     prison into homelessness.

24
A State of Wellbeing

                                      Atrium Program
                                      Atrium is a partnership between several Victorian community
                                      service organisations. Based at the Melbourne Magistrates Court,
                                      it works alongside the Court Integrated Support Program to
                                      provide wrap-around housing and support options to people
                                      who are homeless and on remand but seeking bail. It is designed
                                      to provide safe and supported accommodation, break the cycle
                                      of criminal justice and homelessness and lay the foundations
                                      for fulfilling and independent living.

Reduce barriers                       This reform was meant to prevent     Instead of locking vulnerable
                                      a small number of offenders from     people up, the Victorian
to bail
                                      committing more crimes while on      Government can properly
Reform bail laws to make sure         bail. But now remand is being used   resource bail programs. More bail
people are not being remanded         as a crime prevention measure.       accommodation will keep people
                                                                           who have not been sentenced,
due to homelessness.                  Strict reforms to bail laws
                                                                           and who are not a risk to the
                                      have led to some people being
Increase bail accommodation                                                community, out of prison and
                                      imprisoned simply because they
and support options.                                                       with their children and families.
                                      don’t have a secure home. For
                                      most offences, there is now a
Victoria’s prison population is       presumption against bail.
growing at an unprecedented rate.
                                      Restricting bail doesn’t reduce
A key driver of this is more people
                                      reoffending or protect the
in prison who are denied bail and
                                      community. When a person
remanded in custody.39 In 2019,
                                      offends and is remanded in
more than a third of people in
                                      custody, they do not have access
prison were on remand, and
                                      to rehabilitation programs and
had not been sentenced for
                                      supports, and they are separated
an offence.40 This problem is
                                      from their natural supports in
gendered: almost half of the
                                      the community.
women in Victoria’s prisons are
there on remand.

            More bail accommodation will keep people
         who have not been sentenced, and are not a risk
          to the community, out of prison and with their
                      children and families.

                                                                                                                 25
Victorian Budget Submission 2020–21

                                               Strengthen the Charter                      36	Sentencing Advisory Council,
                                               of Human Rights.                                Reoffending by Children and Young
     A safe and                                                                                People in Victoria, December 2016
                                               Victoria’s Charter of Human
     just Victoria                                                                         37	Federation of Community Legal
                                               Rights does not formally protect
                                                                                               Centres, Home Connection and
                                               economic and social rights—                     Healing: Pathways to Mental
                                               including the rights to health,                 Wellness: Our submission to the
                                               housing or education—or the right               Royal Commission into Victoria’s
                                               to Aboriginal self-determination.               Mental Health System, July 2019

     Further                                   The Charter also has no avenue
                                               for people to take direct legal
                                                                                           38	Australian Institute of Health and
                                                                                               Welfare, The Health of Australia’s

     strategies
                                                                                               Prisoners 2018, May 2019
                                               action when their rights are
                                               breached. The Victorian                     39	M McMahon, No bail, more jail?,
                                                                                               Department of Parliamentary
                                               Government can strengthen the
                                                                                               Services, Parliament of Victoria,
                                               Charter to provide people with a
                                                                                               August 2019
                                               direct right of action and protect
                                                                                           40	Australian Bureau of Statistics,
                                               more of the rights that impact on
                                                                                               Corrective Service June Quarter
                                               the lives of vulnerable Victorians.             2019 CAT No. 4512, September 2019
     Improve treatment options
     for people in prison.                                                                 41	Australian Institute of Health and
                                               Expand Victoria’s drug courts.                  Welfare, The health of Australia’s
     Sixty per cent of people who
                                               The Victorian Drug Court and                    prisoners 2018, May 2019
     enter prison in Victoria report
                                               the Family Drug Treatment Court             42	Parliament of Victoria, Legislative
     being diagnosed with a pre-existing
                                               reduce reoffending and promote                  Council Legal and Social Issues
     mental health disorder.41 Prison                                                          Committee, Inquiry into a legislated
                                               family reunification.43 The Victorian
     sentences can be an opportunity                                                           spent convictions scheme; A
                                               Government can help keep people
     to help people address their                                                              controlled disclosure of criminal
                                               out of prison by expanding the                  record information framework for
     mental health and alcohol and
                                               Drug Court model across the                     Victoria, August 2019
     drug problems, and participate in
                                               state, including to rural and               43	KPMG, Evaluation of the Drug Court
     training and education that will help
                                               regional areas.                                 of Victoria, for Magistrates Court of
     keep them out of prison in future.
                                                                                               Victoria, December 2014, p.4

     Establish a spent convictions
                                               31	Victorian Department of Treasury,
     scheme.                                       Victorian Budget 19/20: Budget
     The Victorian Government can                  Paper No. 3, 2019
     end discrimination against people         32	R Millar, C Vedelago, ‘Prisons
     whose records of old, minor                   to focus on rehabilitation, not
     convictions are stopping them                 recidivism: Minister’, The Age,
                                                   June 28 2019
     finding a job or a house or getting
     insurance.                                33	J Heerde, J Toumbourou,
                                                   S Hemphill, H Le, T Herrenkohl,
     Victoria is the only state in Australia       R Catalano, Prevent crime and save
     without a spent conviction scheme.            money: Return on investment models
     The Legislative Assembly Legal                in Australia, Australian Institute of
                                                   Criminology, April 2018
     and Social Issues Committee
     has recommended a “controlled             34	Jesuit Social Services, Victorian
                                                   State Election Platform: Youth
     disclosure of criminal record
                                                   Justice, 2018
     information framework” be
                                               35	Department of Justice and
     developed as “a matter of
                                                   Regulation, Youth Parole Board
     urgency.”42                                   Annual Report 2017–18, September
                                                   2018

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