Delivering a good life for every Victorian - VCOSS State Election Platform 2018 - Victorian Council of Social ...

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Delivering a good life for every Victorian - VCOSS State Election Platform 2018 - Victorian Council of Social ...
Delivering a good life
for every Victorian

                         VCOSS State
Delivering a good life for every Victorian - VCOSS State Election Platform 2018 - Victorian Council of Social ...
Introduction: Delivering a good life for every Victorian                           2
                                                                                                                                     Staying safe, healthy and resilient                                                 38
                                                                                                                                     Freeing Victorians from family violence                                             40
Our goals and priorities for a good life                                           4                                                 Promoting healthy living and preventing disease                                     41
                                                                                                                                     Caring for Victorians’ mental health                                                42
Overview: A long-term agenda                                                       6                                                 Keeping effective services running through NDIS and aged care reforms               43
                                                                                                                                     Recognising and supporting carers                                                   44
Finding a place to call home                                                  10                                                     Reducing the harm from alcohol and drugs                                            45
Delivering affordable housing                                                  12                                                    Promoting resilient communities                                                     46
Creating a Victoria without homelessness                                       13
Making renting fair                                                            14                                                    Embracing diversity and inclusion                                                   48
                                                                                                                                     Embedding Aboriginal self-determination                                             50
Getting a good job                                                            16                                                     Pursuing gender and sexual equality                                                 51
Creating jobs, skills and pathways                                             18                                                    Empowering people with disability                                                   52
Securing the community sector growth dividend                                  20                                                    Planning an age-friendly Victoria                                                   53
                                                                                                                                     Celebrating and supporting cultural diversity                                       54

Affording the basics                                                          24
Cutting power bills                                                            26                                                    Treating people fairly                                                              56
Managing money                                                                 27                                                    Instilling human rights                                                             58
Getting around                                                                 28                                                    Ensuring people can get legal help                                                  59
Going digital                                                                  29                                                    Making fines fair                                                                   60
                                                                                                                                     Diverting young people from the justice system                                      61
                                                                                                                                     Building a corrections system that successfully rehabilitates people                62
Giving children a great start                                                 30
Starting learning early                                                        32
Designing inclusive, engaging and affordable schools                           33
Nurturing strong, resilient children and families                              35
Keeping vulnerable children safe and supported                                 36

The Victorian Council of     Our members reflect the        In addition to supporting       VCOSS acknowledges
Social Service is the peak   diversity of the sector and    the sector, VCOSS represents    the traditional owners     VCOSS State
body of Victoria’s social    include large charities,       the interests of vulnerable     of country and pays its    Election
and community sector.        peak organisations, small      and disadvantaged Victorians    respects to Elders past,
                             community services, advocacy   in policy debates and           present and emerging.
                             groups and individuals         advocates for the development                              2018
                             interested in social policy.   of a sustainable, fair and
                                                                                            t @VCOSS
                                                            equitable society.
                                                                                            f /VCOSS

Authorised                   Photography                    Design                          © VCOSS 2018
Emma King                    Sam O’Reilly, Ryan Sheales,    ThinkLab Advertising
VCOSS CEO                    contributors.
                                                                                                                                                                                     VCOSS State Election Platform 2018 | 01
Delivering a good life for every Victorian - VCOSS State Election Platform 2018 - Victorian Council of Social ...
Introduction: Delivering a
                                            good life for every Victorian
                                            Victoria is a strong,             VCOSS believes a good life                        Underpinning a good life in           We call on all parties
                                                                              should be central to the                          Victoria is the need to support       and candidates to adopt
                                            prosperous and vibrant            policy platform of every                          self-determination and a              these priorities in the lead
                                            community. Few, if any,           political party contesting the                    Treaty between the Victorian          up to the election, and to work
                                            of the challenges we              2018 Victorian election.                          Government and the state’s            alongside us in delivering them.
                                                                                                                                Aboriginal people. This includes
                                            confront are genuinely            Everyone instinctively grasps the
                                                                                                                                mapping out a pathway to deep
                                                                              concept of a good life. It means:
                                            unable to be overcome.                                                              and meaningful reconciliation.
                                                                              • having a safe and affordable
                                            Working together,                   place to call home,
                                                                                                                                This document lays out
                                            we have the expertise                                                               clear priorities for generating
                                                                              • affording the basics, paying                    and sharing prosperity with
                                            and affluence to                    for food, energy, transport                     every Victorian, with clear
                                            deliver a good life                 and general costs of living,                    goals and actions. It is the
                                            for every Victorian.              • having a great education to
                                                                                                                                result of extensive consultation
                                                                                                                                between VCOSS and our
                                                                                grow and develop our talents,
                                                                                                                                members, representing                 Emma King
                                            Overcoming the state’s              leading to a job with security
                                                                                                                                frontline social service              VCOSS Chief Executive Officer
                                            challenges requires two key         and a decent wage,
                                                                                                                                organisations, charities and a
                                            ingredients: the commitment,      • prioritising health, with                       range of individuals and social
                                            vision and determination of         support to recover from illness                 advocacy bodies across Victoria.
                                            our political leaders, and the      and manage disabilities,
                                            authentic involvement of the
                                            wider Victorian community.        • living free from violence,
                                                                                abuse and neglect, and
                                            This document presents a
                                            vision for Victoria that has      • being part of a community
                                            the attainment of ‘a good life’     with friends and loved ones.
                                            at its core.

                                                                                                                  VCOSS State

02 | Delivering a good life for every Victorian                                                                                                                    VCOSS State Election Platform 2018 | 03
Delivering a good life for every Victorian - VCOSS State Election Platform 2018 - Victorian Council of Social ...
Priorities for a good life
Goal: Everyone can find                       Goal: Everyone can                Goal: Everyone can pay            Goal: Everyone is free            Goal: Everyone is                 Goal: Everyone
a secure, affordable and                      get a secure job with             for their basic needs             from violence, can stay           recognised, valued                is treated fairly
appropriate home                              a decent wage                     Regulate for fair                 healthy and recover               and included                      under the law
Forge new beginnings with                     Target more jobs to               energy prices                     from adversity                    Cultivate strong,                 Unclog courts by
3,000 new homes each year                     marginalised workers              Victoria can adopt stronger                                         Aboriginal Controlled             decriminalising toll fines
                                                                                                                  Complete delivery of the
Over the next decade, Victoria                Victoria can lift and             regulations to make energy                                          Community Organisations           Victorian can change road
                                                                                                                  Royal Commission into Family
can forge new beginnings by                   broaden its targets for           pricing more transparent,                                           Victoria can adopt a              toll fee enforcement to a
                                                                                                                  Violence recommendations
building 3,000 extra public                   a more diverse workforce.         simple and comparable,                                              policy of Aboriginal              civil debt recovery system.
                                                                                                                  Victoria can complete the
and community homes each                                                        and ensure fair and affordable                                      self-determination and build
                                              See page 18                                                         work of the Royal Commission                                        See page 60
year as critical infrastructure.                                                energy to those in need.                                            strong, sustainable ACCOs.
                                                                                                                  to deliver real and lasting
                                              Maintain free                     See page 26                                                                                           Close youth prisons and
See page 12                                                                                                       change for Victoria’s women,      See page 50
                                              vocational education                                                                                                                    invest in better diversion
                                                                                Help upgrade homes to             children and families.
Include public and community                  Victoria can keep delivering                                                                          Develop a gender                  alternatives
housing in new developments                   free training in targeted         slash energy use                  See page 40                       inclusive culture                 Victoria can plan to
Victoria can accelerate public                qualifications for future         Victoria can invest in                                              Victoria can pursue cultural      progressively discontinue
                                                                                                                  Be a proud leader in
and community housing                         growth industries, like           upgrading homes to be more                                          and attitudinal change to         its youth prisons, and
                                                                                                                  mental health recovery
growth by compelling                          community services.               energy efficient, providing                                         perceptions of women.             replace them with more
                                                                                                                  Victoria can convey a
developers to include social                                                    basic energy savings measure                                                                          effective diversion and
                                              See page 19                                                         sweeping vision for recovery-     See page 51
housing among their new                                                         like insulation, hot water and                                                                        rehabilitation interventions.
                                                                                                                  based mental health,
apartments.                                   Boost community sector            heating systems.                                                    Boost advocacy and
                                                                                                                  combining prevention and                                            See page 61
                                              pay and conditions                See page 26                                                         information funding
See page 12                                                                                                       early intervention with
                                              Victoria can fund community                                                                           Victoria can empower              Slash re-offending rates
                                                                                Become a connected                psychosocial rehabilitation and
Nip homelessness in the bud                   service employers for wage                                                                            people with disability            Victoria can tackle repeat
                                                                                community with low-cost           support.
Victoria can bring together                   and cost increases to avoid                                                                           by funding advocacy               offending by aiming to
properly funded homelessness                  creating more insecure,           internet plans                    See page 42                       and information services          reduce recidivism by 15%.
prevention services to ‘wrap                  low-paid jobs.                    Victoria can become                                                 that give them a voice
                                                                                                                  Make funding transparent                                            See page 62
around’ people before they                                                      Australia’s most digitally-                                         and support their
                                              See page 21                                                         to keep services running
become homeless.                                                                connected state by expanding                                        decision-making.
                                                                                                                  during and after the
                                              Develop innovative                internet access to low-income
See page 13                                                                                                       NDIS rollout                      See page 52
                                              approaches to grow                households with a special
                                                                                                                  Victoria can clearly break
Set a benchmark for                           the workforce                     low-cost basic internet plan.
                                                                                                                  down the funding sources
liveable rental homes                         Victoria can respond on           See page 29                       for ‘service continuity’
Victoria can set minimum                      multiple fronts to enhance
                                                                                                                  outside the NDIS, providing
health, safety and energy                     community sector career
                                                                                                                  assurance people will continue
efficiency standards in                       paths and provide superior
                                                                                                                  to receive the help they need.
rental homes to systematically                services to meet the
improve the quality of                        needs of a changing industry.                                       See page 43
rental housing.                               See page 22
See page 14

Goal: Every child can
reach their potential
Give every child 15 hours                     Match funds to learning needs     Make public school free           Help kids join their friends      Provide free public transport    Guarantee the home stretch
of kindergarten each week                     for children with disability      Victoria can deliver financial    in local sport                    for school kids from families    for young care leavers
for two years                                 Victoria can give children with   relief for parents and a truly    Victoria can help engage          facing disadvantage              Victoria can extend support
Victoria can lead the nation                  disability their best chance in   free education for every child    every child in sport by           Victoria can support             for young care-leavers until
in early childhood education                  life by matching their support    by investigating the real costs   funding a transferable sport      school attendance with free      at least 21 to equip them
by bringing us up to world                    funding with their actual         of school participation and       voucher for children from         public transport for children    with the skills, housing and
standards of access to early                  learning needs.                   topping up funds.                 low-income families.              of families with a health        resources to succeed in life.
learning for 3 and 4-year-olds.               See page 33                       See page 33                       See page 33                       care card.                       See page 36
See page 32                                                                                                                                         See page 33

04 | Delivering a good life for every Victorian                                                                                                                                     VCOSS State Election Platform 2018 | 05
Delivering a good life for every Victorian - VCOSS State Election Platform 2018 - Victorian Council of Social ...
                                                                                     A long-term

                                                  Keith Morgan believes Treaty and Aboriginal
                                                  self-determination are crucial for Victoria’s future.
                                                  “It means a lot in terms of moving forward and having
                                                  control over what is best for Aboriginal people,”
                                                  according to Morgan, a Bainsdale-born Gunaikurnai
                                                  man with ties to Gunditjmara and Yorta Yorta country.
                                                  This extends to having Aboriginal people represented
                                                  in our parliaments, government departments and big
                                                  companies, Morgan said.
                                                  Story and video at

06 | Delivering a good life for every Victorian                                                           VCOSS State Election Platform 2018 | 07
Delivering a good life for every Victorian - VCOSS State Election Platform 2018 - Victorian Council of Social ...
Overview: A long-term agenda

    For all people to lead a good                 Steer social change with a social                   Plan to match                                       networks can identify                             Co-design with service
                                                                                                                                                          opportunities and linkages not
    life Victoria needs a long-term               policy blueprint                                    place-based needs                                   visible to more distant and
                                                                                                                                                                                                            users for person-
    social policy agenda and                      Under a flagship strategy for Victorian social      with local services                                 centralised agencies.                             centred services
                                                  justice, different areas of government can
    governments that strive to                    develop leadership, oversight and coordination
                                                                                                      Victoria has an opportunity
                                                                                                                                                          Fragmented, overlapping and
                                                                                                                                                                                                            People with lived experience,
                                                                                                      to forecast and budget for local                                                                      including of poverty, disability,
    be engaged and embedded                       to work together in achieving social change.        social and community services                       partial place-based initiatives                   family violence or homelessness,
    in communities.                               Victoria needs a clear future vision setting
                                                                                                      and infrastructure needs, as                        currently operate. This inhibits                  have knowledge and insight
                                                                                                      local communities grow and                          co-ordination and increases the                   essential for governance
                                                  high aspirations through targets, timeframes                                                            workload on everyone involved.
                                                                                                      change differently                                                                                    systems, place-based
                                                  and accountabilities. This will bring together                                                          Instead, these initiatives should
    Enter a treaty with the                       different plans and ensure resources are
                                                                                                      in different places.
                                                                                                                                                          move to ‘one place, one plan’
                                                                                                                                                                                                            approaches, and service design
    Aboriginal community                          working in the right places and reaching the        Already we can see moves                            place-based partnerships, with
                                                                                                                                                                                                            and delivery.

    Transforming government means                 right people. Rather than delivering a list of      in this direction. Victoria is                      governance structures reflecting                  Co-design “involves coming
    confronting our shared past: to               isolated announcements, different agencies          getting better at future planning                   unique local community                            alongside people who
    plan for the future of all Victorians         can work together towards the same goals,           through Infrastructure Victoria                     composition.                                      experience vulnerabilities, to
    we must find a pathway forward to             and changes can be correctly aligned – not          and the School Building                                                                               work with them in creating
    reconciliation with Victoria’s first          duplicated or haphazard – and rolled out in         Authority. We can now make                          Collaborate and                                   interventions, services and
                                                  the right sequence.
    peoples. Aboriginal Australians have                                                              this ‘business as usual’ across                     co-produce with the                               programs which will work
    long called for a Treaty, or treaties,                                                            government, so every local                                                                            in the context of their lives,
    between community and government:             Create inclusive growth                             community has the mix of local                      community sector                                  and will reflect their own values
                                                  To reduce economic inequality, Victoria can         services that fit with its current                  The community sector is a                         and goals”.3
      “We seek constitutional reforms                                                                 size and need. This includes                        resource with decades of
                                                  pursue inclusive growth, which ensures that the
      to empower our people and take a                                                                the right suite of community                        experience in delivering services                 Local co-design can use
                                                  dividends of economic growth flow to those
      rightful place in our own country.                                                              services, including childcare,                      to Victorians. The Victorian                      collaborative problem-solving
                                                  with the lowest incomes through stronger
      When we have power over our                                                                     neighbourhood houses,                               Government can be more                            to produce tailored service
                                                  income support, more jobs and higher wages.
      destiny our children will flourish.                                                             community health services,                          effective and efficient and                       design and delivery suited to
                                                  This is fairer than the current economic growth
      They will walk in two worlds and                                                                mental health services, disability                  generate better ideas if it draws                 local needs.
                                                  trajectory, where most of the extra income
      their culture will be a gift to their                                                           services, children’s services                       community organisations into
                                                  generated by economic growth flows to people
      country.”1                                                                                      and family violence services,                       the heart of policy-making.
                                                  who already have high incomes and wealth.
                                                                                                      among others.                                       Co-production encourages
    Aboriginal Victorians should decide
                                                                                                                                                          people using services to get
    the scope of a Treaty, potentially            Prevent and intervene early
    including sovereignty, rights,                The key to enhancing the lives of Victorians is     Develop ‘one place,                                 involved in service delivery and
                                                                                                                                                          planning, funding decisions,
    government relationships, service             to prevent health and social problems, rather       one plan’ place-based                               evaluation and outcomes
    delivery and decision-making.                 than waiting for them to become entrenched          approaches                                          measurement.2 The Victorian
    It could also include education,              and acute before acting. Across the Victorian       Social and community services                       Government can create
    Aboriginal guardianship, housing,             Government, resources need to be directed           are most potent when they work                      more successful services by
    economic empowerment and                      ‘upstream’ to prevention and early intervention     as part of broader, collaborative                   encouraging and endorsing
    business development.                         services, disrupting the heavy reliance on          action in local communities.                        co-production for program
                                                  ‘downstream’ services that provide acute,           Place-based approaches                              development, community
                                                  emergency and crisis responses. In every case,      facilitate government, non-                         service organisations and
                                                  prevention and early intervention is cheaper        government, private sector                          place-based initiatives.
                                                  and leads to people living happier and healthier,   and community collaboration
                                                  more productive lives.                              to tackle local issues. Local

                                                                                                          Referendum Council, Uluru Statement from the Heart, 2017,
                                                                                                          S Pollock, ‘Shifting the power-are we ready to embrace the full potential of co-production’, VCOSS Insight edition 15 (citing Social Care
                                                                                                          Institute of Excellence, Co-production in social care: what it is and how to do it, SCIE Guide 51, London, 2013)
                                                                                                          Victorian Council of Social Service, Walk alongside: Co-designing social initiatives with people experiencing vulnerabilities, VCOSS,
                                                                                                          July 2015,

08 | Delivering a good life for every Victorian                                                                                                                                                           VCOSS State Election Platform 2018 | 09
Delivering a good life for every Victorian - VCOSS State Election Platform 2018 - Victorian Council of Social ...
Finding      Goal: Everyone can
                                                               find a secure, affordable
                                                  a place to   and appropriate home
                                                  call home    The best way to help someone
                                                               achieve a good life is by finding
                                                               them a safe place to call home.
                                                               Every other life achievement is
                                                               built on this bedrock. Homes are
                                                               places to raise our families, express
                                                               ourselves and store our memories,
                                                               and stay safe, warm, clean and

                                                               Yet, for many Victorians, this basic
                                                               human need is a luxury they can’t
                                                               afford. Nearly 25,000 Victorians
                                                               are homeless on any given night.4
                                                               Another million live in housing
                                                               stress.5 Rising rents and stagnant
                                                               social housing growth have made
                                                               the problem worse.

                                                               Creating affordable housing,
                                                               ending homelessness and making
                                                               renting fair gives every Victorian a
                                                               better chance at a great life.

                                                                    Being made redundant was the initial trigger for
                                                                    David Montgomery’s slide into homelessness.
                                                                    The former public servant spent more than nine
                                                                    years in rooming houses and crisis accommodation
                                                                    before securing a social housing property in
                                                                    Melbourne’s outer east.
                                                                    “It’s fantastic, it feels like a home to me. I’m so
                                                                    lucky,” he said.
                                                                    “It’s so important for a person to feel that they
                                                                    have security.”
                                                                    Story and video at

10 | Delivering a good life for every Victorian                                                                           VCOSS State Election Platform 2018 | 11
Delivering a good life for every Victorian - VCOSS State Election Platform 2018 - Victorian Council of Social ...
Finding a place to call home

    Delivering affordable                         Make new homes age and                              Creating a                       support. People facing eviction,
                                                                                                                                       foreclosure or sudden income
                                                                                                                                                                            Don’t let people leave
                                                  disability-friendly                                                                                                       with nowhere to go
    housing                                       Victorians deserve homes where they can age
                                                                                                      Victoria without                 loss can get help with legal
                                                                                                                                       and financial advice, while also     Victoria has a special
    Housing is the most important                 gracefully: homes that suit diverse community       homelessness                     resolving tenancy problems and       responsibility to those in its
                                                  needs, including for people with disability.                                         being connected to intensive         care. People leaving hospital,
    thing for Victoria to get right;              Our housing standards aren’t up to scratch for      Victoria can be                  support services.                    prison or out-of-home care
    the happiness of every single                 this task.                                          Australia’s leading                                                   should not be pushed out into
    Victorian depends on it.                      The good news is this can be easily fixed. Very     state in combatting              Combine talents and                  the cold with nowhere to go.

                                                  simple changes to the building code – such as       homelessness. It is              offer ‘housing first’                People leaving these institutions
                                                  requiring adequate door widths, a clear access                                                                            are often particularly vulnerable,
    Forge new beginnings with                     path to the front door and a stepless shower
                                                                                                      shocking that nearly             To tackle entrenched
                                                                                                                                                                            and without stable, affordable
                                                                                                                                       homelessness, Victoria needs
    3,000 new homes each year                     recess – can make homes more easily adaptable       25,000 Victorians are            to bring together the expertise      housing. They have a high risk of
    Over the next decade, Victoria can
                                                  to accommodate people’s changing abilities.         homeless on any given            of different professionals,          homelessness or of returning to
                                                  Adapting a home can be 22 times cheaper with                                                                              an institution soon after leaving.
    forge new beginnings by building
                                                  these basic features in place.7
                                                                                                      night, including over            including homelessness workers
                                                                                                                                       and healthcare professionals,
    3,000 extra public and community
    homes each year. Just like roads and
                                                                                                      1,000 sleeping rough.            to immediately deliver the
                                                                                                                                                                            Fixing this problem needs better
                                                                                                                                                                            planning from those institutions,
    rail, Victoria needs to view our public       Reform property taxes to promote                    This is a problem                right package of voluntarily
                                                                                                                                                                            and a pool of available long-
    and community housing as critical             housing affordability                               we know how to fix.              accepted assistance.
                                                                                                                                                                            term homes for people to go to.
    infrastructure. But neglect has left it       Our antiquated system of property taxes is                                           This entails a ‘housing first’
    to decay and become dangerously               leading to millions of dollars being lost to our                                     approach, meaning people
    inadequate for Victorians’ needs.             economy, and too many Victorians missing            Nip homelessness in              are offered permanent,
    Victoria will need 3,000 public and
    community homes each year just to
                                                  out on achieving their housing dreams.              the bud                          affordable housing as quickly
                                                  Stamp duties encourage property speculation,                                         as possible, combined with the
    meet the needs of people eligible for                                                             The first step towards ending
                                                  dampen economic activity, fall heavily on young                                      multidisciplinary support to stay
    priority housing.6                                                                                homelessness is to prevent
                                                  home buyers, and discourage people moving                                            housed and avoid becoming
                                                                                                      people becoming homeless
                                                  to better homes or new jobs. They also create                                        homeless again.
    Victoria has a chance to transform:                                                               in the first place. This means
                                                  budget nightmares for governments, being
    after decades of being Australia’s                                                                having services to help people
                                                  prone to drastic drops in revenue if the property                                    A permanent supportive
    housing laggard we can start leading                                                              as soon as their housing comes
                                                  market stalls.                                                                       housing model can operate on
    the nation by providing the capital                                                               under threat, rather than
                                                                                                                                       ‘step-up, step-down’ principles,
    investment and recurrent backing              To move to a fairer, more efficient and             waiting until they are living
                                                                                                                                       meaning housing support can
    to create a public and community              stable property tax system, the Victorian           on the streets.
                                                                                                                                       be intensified when people have
    housing system to be proud of.                Government should, over time, replace                                                difficulties, and can be reduced
                                                                                                      We can bring together and
                                                  stamp duties with a broad-based land tax.                                            when it becomes unnecessary.
                                                                                                      properly fund our fragmented,
    Include public and community                  This should occur with appropriate concessions,
                                                                                                      overstretched homelessness       This includes assertive outreach
    housing in new developments                   exemptions and deferrals, particularly for
                                                                                                      prevention services. These can   and engagement providing a
                                                  low-income households that may be                                                    path to permanent housing,
    One of the most effective ways of                                                                 ‘wrap around’ people at risk
                                                  asset-rich but income-poor.                                                          combined with assessment,
    accelerating public and community                                                                 of homelessness, and include
    housing growth is by challenging the                                                              tailored assistance, legal       care planning and integrated
    private sector to contribute to the task.                                                         help, and financial advice and   service provision.
    Inclusionary zoning means compelling
    developers to include social housing
    among their new apartments. Victoria
    builds 30,000 new units every year;
    making just a few per cent of these
    units social housing would go a long
    way towards ensuring every Victorian
    has a place to call home.

12 | Delivering a good life for every Victorian                                                                                                                            VCOSS State Election Platform 2018 | 13
Delivering a good life for every Victorian - VCOSS State Election Platform 2018 - Victorian Council of Social ...
Finding a place to call home

       Making renting fair                                            Prevent people being needlessly
                                                                      forced to leave their rental homes
       Victoria can secure better                                     Victoria can strengthen our rental laws to
       homes for Victorians by                                        prevent people being unnecessarily forced
       strengthening rentals laws.                                    from their homes. With some people renting
                                                                      all their lives, they need to be able to plan for
       With more Victorians renting                                   the future with certainty, settle down, and
       for longer, including more                                     make a home for their families and pets.
       families and older people,                                     Victoria should make sure eviction is only
       renting is no longer just a                                    used as a last resort, when all avenues of
       short-term housing choice.                                     saving someone’s home have been exhausted.
                                                                      Law reform can give more power to tenants to
       New, stronger rental laws can                                  defend against needless evictions, stop evictions
       provide better protections for                                 for no reason, compel landlords to make proper
       life-long renters, allowing                                    repairs, and let renters make and enjoy their
                                                                      homes without interference.
       them to make a home, raise a
       family, and keep comfortable,                                  Streamline problem-solving
       safe and healthy.                                              in rental disagreements
                                                                      A Housing Ombudsman could be a more
                                                                      engaged, investigative and problem-solving
       Set a benchmark for liveable                                   regulator, overcoming the fear and complexity
       rental homes                                                   many people experience dealing with the
       Setting minimum health, safety and                             Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal
       energy efficiency standards will                               (VCAT).
       systematically improve the quality of
                                                                      A Housing Ombudsman can be a ‘one-stop
       rental housing. This will improve the
                                                                      shop’ for resolving housing problems. Ideally,
       health and safety of Victorians renters,
                                                                      it would receive direct government funding,
       and help reduce their energy bills.
                                                                      be vigorously independent, report and speak
       Standards can include basic features                           publicly and have strong powers to resolve
       such as a working toilet and stove,                            complaints. This includes the power to
       locks on external doors, proper airflow,                       investigate problems, make binding orders
       draught-proofing, ceiling insulation                           and launch inquiries into systemic problems
       and efficient heating. Gradually                               in housing.
       introducing minimum rental standards
       over time can ease any price impacts.

       Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2049.0 - Census of Population and Housing: Estimating homelessness, 2016
       The Australian Bureau of Statistics estimates that 962,500 Victorians live in households paying more than 30 per cent of their income
       towards housing costs. See Australian Bureau of Statistics, 4130.0 - Housing Occupancy and Costs, 2015-16, Table 13.5 Household
       Estimates, Selected household characteristics, States and Territories, 2015-16
       Community Housing Federation of Victoria, Quantifying the shortfall of Social and Affordable Housing, p.3,
       Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute, Dwelling, Land and Neighbourhood Use by Older Home Owners, 2010, p.282

14 | Delivering a good life for every Victorian                                                                                                VCOSS State Election Platform 2018 | 15
Delivering a good life for every Victorian - VCOSS State Election Platform 2018 - Victorian Council of Social ...
Getting a
    good job

    Goal: Everyone can
    get a secure job with
    a decent wage

    Getting a decent job can change               The community sector will provide
    someone’s life. A good job with               a growing share of the jobs of
    security and decent pay provides              the future, especially as the NDIS,     Nhu Nguyen is part of the
    a stable income, meaningful                   MyAgedCare and family violence          workforce of the future—though
    engagement and buys people                    response rolls out. But this means      she’ll probably never manage a
    a stake in Victoria’s future. By              the quality of those jobs will          fleet of robots.
    creating good jobs and giving                 impact heavily on Victorians’
                                                  wellbeing. Community services           “I help people in the community,”
    people the skills, advice and
                                                  jobs must be secure, well paid and      is how the disability support
    pathways to get into them, the
    Victorian Government can give                 provide decent career paths. If         coordinator and Future Social
    hope to the nearly 200,000                    we create more insecure work in         Service Institute alumnus
    unemployed Victorians, and the                casualised and under-valued roles       describes her job.
    300,000 more who can’t find                   we will not fill job vacancies, and     Nguyen is a member of one of
    enough work.8                                 vital services will not be delivered.   Australia’s fastest growing and
    But this needs to mean more than
                                                                                          most important sectors, covering
    just providing any job – Victorians                                                   social support and assistance.
    need good jobs. In Victoria today, a                                                  “There is so much room for
    job no longer guarantees a decent                                                     growth, to be innovative, to be
    living, with over 200,000 Victorian                                                   entrepreneurs,” she said.
    workers living in poverty despite
    being employed.9                                                                      Story and video at

16 | Delivering a good life for every Victorian                                                              VCOSS State Election Platform 2018 | 17
Getting a good job

    Creating jobs, skills                         Work with business to promote                        Invest in dedicated,                Provide intensive                   Safeguard excellence in
                                                  inclusion and flexibility                            skilled and experienced             training support for                vocational education
    and pathways                                  The Victorian Government should encourage            school careers advisors             disadvantaged learners              To maximise students’ job
    Victoria is the jobs engine of                employers to ‘take a chance’ on hiring               It’s a challenge to decide on       Victoria can engage the most        prospects, Victoria should have
    Australia, generating nearly                  disadvantaged jobseekers and to offer more
                                                  inclusive and diverse workplaces. Becoming
                                                                                                       a career path and choose            disadvantaged in acquiring          an accessible, high quality VET
                                                                                                                                                                               system, which particularly meets
                                                                                                       the right option to pursue it,      skills by funding extra
    400,000 jobs over the past                    best-practice employers, with inclusive attitudes    especially for young people         assistance to stay in vocational    the needs of students from
    five years. But we need to                    and flexibility for workers, can mean tapping        who don’t have good personal        education courses. For the          disadvantaged backgrounds.
                                                  into a larger recruitment pool and benefitting                                                                               There is still widespread distrust
    provide better pathways                       from the many talents of diverse workers,
                                                                                                       connections or who face             most disadvantaged learners,
                                                                                                                                                                               of accredited qualifications,
                                                                                                       others’ low expectations            it can be a struggle to stay
    for marginalised workers                      which are too often overlooked.                      about their future.                 connected and engaged in            especially from some for-profit
    to be hired to reduce                                                                                                                  training. Having extra funding      private training providers. Both
    unemployment. Jobless                         Use government buying power to                       Victoria can help young people      set aside to help overcome          Victorian and Commonwealth
                                                                                                       make informed choices by                                                governments should keep
    numbers have barely budged,                   create jobs for marginalised workers                 funding dedicated full-time
                                                                                                                                           life’s difficulties – including
                                                                                                                                                                               strengthening quality control
                                                                                                                                           daily costs like transport,
                                                  ‘Social procurement’ uses government
    and youth unemployment is at                  purchasing power to create jobs for
                                                                                                       school careers advisors, rather     short-term accommodation or         and audits so students can trust
                                                                                                       than part-time afterthought         mental health support – can         they are learning the right skills
    record levels of 15 per cent.10               marginalised workers. The current Social             roles. 15 With dedicated jobs,      keep people learning and on a       for successful careers.
                                                  Procurement Framework can be expanded                careers advisors can provide        pathway to success.
                                                  across all government purchasing, and
    Target more jobs to                           can go beyond creating apprenticeships
                                                                                                       high quality, contemporary                                              Make wage theft a crime
                                                                                                       guidance tailored to students’
    marginalised workers                          and traineeships to employing long-term              strengths and interests, and
                                                                                                                                           Foster innovative ways of           Wage theft is widespread,

    The Victorian Government is a major
                                                  unemployed people, people with disability            realistic information about         engaging young people               with one in five young workers
                                                                                                                                                                               found to receive base pay rates
    employer, and can lead by example by
                                                  and other marginalised workers.                      training requirements and           in higher learning                  less than the minimum wage
    lifting and broadening its targets for                                                             job prospects. They can             Victoria can better support         and less than half of young
    embracing a more diverse workforce.           Top up wages and provide more                        open students’ minds to new         young people once they leave        workers receiving penalty
    This includes extending the 6 per cent        jobseekers support                                   possibilities, provide real-world   school by investing in novel and    rates.16 Underpayment of wages
    disability target (12 per cent by 2025)11                                                          opportunities, build strong         alternative pathways to jobs
                                                  Victoria can expand its capabilities in supporting                                                                           is endemic across the retail,
    and the 2 per cent Aboriginal target,12                                                            relationships and referral          and vocational education for
                                                  the most disadvantaged jobseekers to get into                                                                                hospitality and fast food sectors
    from the relatively small and central                                                              pathways with employers as well     early school-leavers and at-risk
                                                  the workforce. Victoria should build on the                                                                                  and enforcement activities
    Public Service to the entire Victorian                                                             as other education providers        young people. For example,
                                                  successes and lessons from the Jobs Victoria                                                                                 undertaken by the Fair Work
    public sector, including schools and                                                               and community organisations,        Local Learning and Employment
                                                  Employment Network and expand intensive                                                                                      Ombudsman are ineffective.17
    hospitals.13 Victoria can also set targets                                                         and attend relevant professional    Networks can help develop
                                                  assistance for jobseekers, including additional
    for other groups, such as people from                                                              development.                        innovative models to re-engage      The Crimes Act 1958 (Vic)
                                                  tools to support them into work, such as
    culturally and linguistically diverse         introductory wage subsidies as people develop                                            young people and provide            should be amended to insert
    backgrounds, and single parents.              experience in workplaces.                            Maintain free vocational            pathways into the higher            a new offence of ‘wage theft’

      “The Victorian community is
                                                                                                       education                           education system.                   to deter and punish employers
                                                                                                                                                                               for engaging in the deliberate
      best served by a public sector              Supercharge regional economic                        Victoria can overcome the
                                                                                                                                                                               and dishonest underpayment
      that reflects and embraces                  development strategies                               biggest barrier to people
                                                                                                                                                                               of wages.18
      its rich diversity.”14                                                                           getting the skills needed
                                                  Victoria can create and boost local collaborative
                                                                                                       for our future workforce by
                                                  economic development alliances to harness the
                                                                                                       keeping free training in targeted
                                                  talents and assets in communities, generating
                                                                                                       vocational qualifications, like
                                                  a viable commercial base and ensuring that
                                                                                                       community services. Cost is
                                                  people working and living locally reap the
                                                                                                       the biggest barrier for many
                                                  benefits. The first priority is areas of high
                                                                                                       students, especially those living
                                                  unemployment or those affected by a changing
                                                                                                       in poverty. Waiving fees means
                                                  employment landscape. These powerhouse
                                                                                                       more people can undertake
                                                  alliances can link local training with local jobs,
                                                                                                       courses and gain the skills for
                                                  encourage ‘buy local’ campaigns and pinpoint
                                                                                                       future success.
                                                  the best infrastructure investments.

18 | Delivering a good life for every Victorian                                                                                                                               VCOSS State Election Platform 2018 | 19
Getting a good job
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Victorian Government indexation versus
    Securing the                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  estimated cost increases
    community sector
    growth dividend
    The community services and                                                                                                                                                                             We want to be an industry
    health industry is creating the                                                                                                                                                                        of choice for job seekers and
    jobs of the future right now,                                                                                                                                                                          provide rewarding career                                                                                                                                                   110                                                                                                     Estimated
    nearly double the rate of any                                                                                                                                                                          opportunities, secure                                                                                                                                                      108                                                                                                     in costs
    other industry. In five years,                                                                                                                                                                         employment, and good pay                                                                                                                                                   106
    it will employ nearly half a                                                                                                                                                                           and conditions.                                                                                                                                                           104                                                                                                      Victorian
    million workers.19                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                102                                                                                                     indexation

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             2011-12    2012-13      2013-14    2014-15     2015-16      2016-17       2017-18      2018-19

    70                                                            Victorian Employment growth                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     Boost community sector                 Grow community sector                     Build a Victorian social
                                                                  by industry, 2017-2022 (000s)20                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 pay and conditions                     skills in the regions                     development bank
    60                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Community services industry            Victoria especially needs to              Victoria can promote faster
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  growth can only provide secure         construct a pipeline of qualified,        community services jobs
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  futures for Victorian workers if       professional community                    growth by establishing a
    50                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            these new jobs offer decent pay        service workers in our regions,           Victorian Social Development
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  and conditions. Victoria needs         where skill shortages are                 Bank. Access to capital is a
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  to fund community service              most acute. These shortages               major barrier to growth in
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  employers to keep pace with            are compromising regional                 the community sector and for
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  wage and cost increases, and           service quality and stymieing             social enterprise start-ups. It is
    30                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            to avoid creating more insecure        jobs growth. Investing in local,          difficult to get long-term loans
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  and low-paid jobs.                     community-led approaches can              from commercial banks.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         be effective to secure regional
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               Information, Media and

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Electricity, Gas, Water

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  To achieve fair wages and                                                        Providing a government-owned

    20                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   jobs and ensure our regions get
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        and Waste Services

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  conditions, community service          equivalent services.                      ‘bank’ can help provide low-cost
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             Wholesale Trade


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  organisations need a properly                                                    capital to the sector, support
     10                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           costed pricing and indexation                                                    social enterprise start-ups
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  framework that maintains fair                                                    and allow more innovative
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  funding levels. The industry is                                                  use of capital to lower service
      0                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           being squeezed by baseline                                                       delivery costs.
                                                                                                          Accommodation and
                                                                                                               Food Services
                                                                                                                               Retail Trade

                                                                                                                                              Public Administration
                                                                                                                                                        and Safety
                                                                                                                                                                      Administrative and
                                                                                                                                                                       Support Services
                                                                                                                                                                                            Transport, Postal and
                                                                                                                                                                                                     Financial and
                                                                                                                                                                                               Insurance Services
                                                                                                                                                                                           Rental, Hiring and Real
                                                                                                                                                                                                   Estate Services
                                                                                                                                                                                                                     Arts and Recreation
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           Other Services

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Agriculture, Forestry
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     and Fishing

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  funding increases of only 2 per
                    Health Care and
                   Social Assistance
                                       Professional, Scientific
                                       and Technical services
                                                                  Education and Training


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  cent each year, threatening job                                                  For example, community
    -10                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           security and wage levels.                                                        organisations could save rental
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   costs by investing in premises
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   or investing in IT platforms
   -20                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             to reduce transaction costs.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   This model also replenishes its
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   funding, as capital is recycled
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   when it is paid back through
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   loan repayments.

20 | Delivering a good life for every Victorian                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                VCOSS State Election Platform 2018 | 21
Getting a good job

                                                  Promote fulfilling, exciting                       Build the Aboriginal                                 Secure solid data
                                                  community sector careers                           community sector                                     to guide workforce
                                                  Promoting community careers will help to           workforce through                                    planning
                                                  secure a growing workforce. While community        coordinated planning                                 Victoria can only plan for the
                                                  services industry jobs are rapidly growing,                                                             future of community services
                                                                                                     Self-determination is the
                                                  they are often not known about or discussed                                                             job growth if it has a strong
                                                                                                     overarching guiding principle
                                                  in the community, and not considered by                                                                 grasp of the data. But quality
                                                                                                     for Aboriginal affairs in Victoria.
                                                  school leavers or jobseekers. This means many                                                           data is hard to find. Victoria is
                                                                                                     Achieving this in the community
                                                  people who would love the chance to move                                                                approaching a critical deadline
                                                                                                     services industry will require
                                                  into caring, compassionate work in a growing                                                            to collect strong workforce data
                                                                                                     a strong and sustainable
                                                  industry miss out.                                                                                      to synchronise with the coming
                                                                                                     Aboriginal workforce, and
                                                                                                     Aboriginal leadership in                             jobs surge. By developing a
                                                  Develop innovative approaches to                   governance and management.                           meticulous workforce data
                                                  grow the workforce                                 Victoria can help build the                          compilation program, tracking
                                                                                                     Aboriginal community services                        change over time and in
                                                  While community sector workers are committed
                                                                                                     workforce by working with                            different industry segments,
                                                  and skilled employees, the industry is changing,
                                                                                                     the Aboriginal community-                            we can maximise the dividend
                                                  with new roles and expectations around person-
                                                                                                     controlled sector and the                            from workforce growth.
                                                  centred services and co-design. Victoria can
                                                  respond on multiple fronts to enhance career       mainstream community
                                                  paths and provide superior services: supported     sector to undertake coordinated
                                                  traineeships, supported student placements,        planning and develop a
                                                  upskilling existing workers with extra training    sector-wide Aboriginal
                                                  and professional development, and greater          workforce strategy.
                                                  partnerships between community employers
                                                  and training providers.

                                                  Design contemporary qualifications
                                                  for first-rate graduates
                                                  Victoria should lead the country in advocating
                                                  for world-class community service qualifications
                                                  that prepare graduates for the compelling and
                                                  diverse career options ahead of them. The
                                                  current qualifications framework is not fit-for-   8
                                                                                                           Australian Bureau of Statistics, Labour Force, Australia, Mar 2018,
                                                  purpose in an increasingly person-centred               2018?OpenDocument
                                                  and complex social care future. Refreshed          9
                                                                                                          Victorian Council of Social Service and the National Centre for Social and Economic Modelling, Victorian Poverty Data Report, forthcoming
                                                  qualifications with modern competencies            10
                                                                                                          Australian Bureau of Statistics, 6202.0 - Labour Force, Australia, January 2018,
                                                  can better prepare graduates for their future           DetailsPage/6202.0Jan%202018?OpenDocument
                                                  employment demands.                                11
                                                                                                          Victorian Government, Every opportunity: Victorian economic participation plan for people with disability 2018–2020, Action 10, p.16
                                                                                                          Around 1 per cent of the Victorian public service identify as Aboriginal: source Victorian Public Service Commission (2018), The state of the
                                                                                                          public sector in Victoria 2016-2017, p.36,
                                                                                                          The Victorian Public Service makes up less than 17 per cent of the broader public sector workforce, which includes schools, hospitals and
                                                                                                          Victorian Public Service Commission,
                                                                                                          Career Industry Council of Australia, Lack of funding deprives young Australians of necessary career support, 25 March 2015
                                                                                                          Young Workers Centre, Young Workers Snapshot: The Great Wage Rip-Off, May 2017, p.7-8 and p.11-12
                                                                                                          Young Workers Centre Briefing, Criminalising Wage Theft, p.8-9
                                                                                                          Ibid, p.12-13

22 | Delivering a good life for every Victorian                                                                                                                                                          VCOSS State Election Platform 2018 | 23
                                                                                                                  the basics

                                                                                                                  Goal: Everyone can pay
                                                                                                                  for their basic needs
                                                                                                                  People can only live a good life
                                                                                                                  if they are free from constant
                                                                                                                  worry about the cost of living.
                                                                                                                  In a prosperous state with great
                                                                                                                  leadership, everyone should be
                                                                                                                  able to afford life’s essentials.

                                                                                                                  Affording the basics means
                                                                                                                  families can pay their energy
                                                                                                                  bills, and not worry about having
                                                                                                                  their power cut off. It means
                                                  Mark Brewer knows about managing a tight budget.                being able to juggle living costs
                                                  “Life in general is so dear today because of the prices         – including food, rent, water and
                                                  of housing, bills, food,” the father of two said. “I’m always   education costs – knowing that
                                                  looking for bargains.”                                          there is help to avoid or manage
                                                                                                                  a financial crisis.
                                                  Brewer lives in public housing, and says he often makes
                                                  heartbreaking decisions about what he can afford and            An affordable cost of living means
                                                  what’s unattainable.                                            people can pay their travel costs,
                                                                                                                  including for work, learning,
                                                  “If we all addressed the problem together we’d have an          connecting and receiving care and
                                                  answer, yeah?”                                                  support. It means being able to
                                                  Story and video at                        participate in learning and sharing
                                                                                                                  online, with affordable access to
                                                                                                                  technology and the internet.

24 | Delivering a good life for every Victorian                                                                                                         VCOSS State Election Platform 2018 | 25
Affording the basics

    Cutting power bills                           Commit to clean energy                               Managing money                     Help people deal with               Displace predatory
                                                  Victoria needs a solid, sensible plan to gradually                                      financial emergencies               lenders
    A good life means being able                  remove carbon-intensive energy generators over       Living in poverty or               Victoria can join the majority      No Interest Loan Schemes
    to heat and cool your home,                   time and replace them with clean, affordable         facing financial crisis is         of Australian states and            (NILS) allow people to afford
    and having energy for cooking                 alternatives. This will also help lower energy
                                                  prices. Recent price increases are mainly caused
                                                                                                       not a pathway to a good            territories in directly funding     essentials, by financing
                                                                                                                                          financial crisis assistance         household appliances, education
    and washing. In 10 years,                     by runaway electricity generation charges,           life. A thoughtful and             services to help people pay for     and medical expenses at an
    electricity prices have risen                 resulting from fluctuating energy supply.23          considered collaboration           food, clothing and essentials,      affordable rate, and diverting
                                                  But new, renewable energy investment won’t
    52 per cent faster than                       occur without a clear, enduring commitment
                                                                                                       to respond to financial            and help establish financial        people away from predatory
                                                                                                                                          stability. These ‘emergency         lenders like payday lenders and
    inflation.21 More Victorians                  to a stable investment environment.                  distress can help                  relief’ services build on           pawnbrokers. Delivering more
    are experiencing the shock of                                                                      Victorians avoid financial         their immediate assistance          sites like Morwell’s recently
    receiving an energy bill they                 Help upgrade homes to slash                          pitfalls, without having           by supporting people to             opened ‘Good Money’ store

    can’t pay. Increasing energy                  energy use                                           to make desperate
                                                                                                                                          develop longer-term financial       will mean more Victorians
                                                                                                                                          independence. 29                    can benefit.
                                                  Victoria can invest in upgrading homes to be
    costs have been driving                       more energy efficient and slash energy costs.24      trade-offs between bills
    financial problems for many                   For Victorians on low incomes in poor-quality        and food, or resorting             Help Victorians be                  Ensure people are
    families, and leading to more                 public or private rental homes, paying for           to predatory loans.26              money-wise                          properly insured
                                                  improvements is an uphill battle. The provision                                         Financial counsellors help          Ensuring that Victorians have
    Victorians having their power                 of basic energy saving measures like insulation,     With costs outpacing               people better deal with housing     adequate home and contents
    cut off.                                      affordable hot water and heating systems             incomes,27 and                     stress, energy hardship, debt       insurance protects them
                                                  and window coverings is needed. Using a
                                                  mix of finance, and bolstered by minimum
                                                                                                       household debt at                  problems, the financial effects     against financial disaster in a
                                                                                                                                          of poor health or job loss, and     crisis. Community organisations
    Regulate for fair                             rental standards and modification rights,            historic highs,28 it is an         help prevent financial stress       can be supported to partner
    energy prices
                                                  we can tackle this fundamental cause of              opportune time to invest           snowballing into much larger        with insurers to develop
                                                  unaffordable energy supply with new home
    Victoria can adopt stronger regulation        energy-efficiency measures.
                                                                                                       in Victorians’ financial           and costlier problems.30            better products, and can use
                                                                                                                                                                              financial literacy channels to
    to control energy prices. Better                                                                   capabilities, supporting           Victoria can strengthen its         raise awareness of the value
    regulation can help achieve fairer,           Defend the value of bill-shock relief                them to be great                   financial counselling network       of insurance.
    lower pricing by making energy prices                                                                                                 to save more people from
    transparent, simple and comparable;
                                                  Victoria provides families with a payment if         financial managers.                mortgage default, bankruptcy
                                                  they struggle with energy costs, recently
    making energy contracts fair; and                                                                                                     or long-term hardship. It is
                                                  increased to $650.25 This protection can be
    ensuring people experiencing                                                                                                          estimated another 90 financial
    disadvantage can get a fair, low-cost
                                                  defended from eroding in value by properly           Plan for action on                 counsellors are needed to fully
                                                  indexing it to reflect changing energy costs.
    offer. More transparency and better                                                                financial inclusion                support Victoria’s financially
    protections can prevent people from                                                                Victoria can mobilise its          distressed families.31
    being gouged.22                               Break the barriers to asylum                         resources to build a simple,
                                                  seeker energy concessions                            decently funded and thorough
    Boost enforcement of                          Energy and water can be made more                    system to respond to financial
    energy rules                                  affordable for asylum seekers by extending           stress and hardship. The first
                                                  energy and water concessions to them,                step is to develop a Victorian
    Victoria can ensure energy companies
                                                  consistent with public transport concessions,        Financial Inclusion Action
    are following the rules to protect
                                                  and TAFE and health access. Bewilderingly,           Plan to guide investment and
    customers who are having trouble
                                                  this most impoverished and marginalised              provide a collaboration platform
    paying energy bills, or stop them
                                                  group is currently excluded. Most asylum             for community, government
    from being disconnected. Stronger
                                                  seekers become Victorian residents, and              and business.
    enforcement can be achieved by
                                                  depriving them of concessions compromises
    funding community organisations to
                                                  their future contribution to Victoria.
    inform people about the new payment
    difficulty framework, and resourcing
    the regulator properly.

26 | Delivering a good life for every Victorian                                                                                                                             VCOSS State Election Platform 2018 | 27
Going digital                                          Expand public access                            Become a connected
    Affording the basics                                                                             Digital access is a
                                                                                                                                                            Wi-Fi and internet                              community with low-cost
                                                                                                                                                            Victoria can reach more                         internet plans
                                                                                                     prerequisite for 21st-                                 people who depend on free                       Victoria can become Australia’s
                                                                                                     century living. Today’s                                internet access by expanding
    Getting around
                                                                                                                                                                                                            most digitally-connected state
                                                  Unscramble public transport fares                                                                         VicFreeWiFi to more locations,
                                                  and concessions                                    world is digital, with                                 especially in Melbourne’s outer
                                                                                                                                                                                                            by expanding internet access
                                                                                                                                                                                                            to the remaining low-income
    Transport is freedom. For a                   Victoria can devise a simple, easily understood
                                                                                                     everything from getting                                suburbs, and more regional                      households who can’t afford it.
    good life, people need to be                  public transport fare structure, with affordable   a job to finding a home,                               cities and rural towns. People                  Victoria can design a specialised
                                                                                                                                                            on low incomes are more likely
    able to reach the places where                concessions for low-income earners. This           managing money, doing                                  not to have internet plans, or
                                                                                                                                                                                                            low-cost basic internet plan,
                                                  can overcome the cumbersome concessions                                                                                                                   and connect disadvantaged
    they work, learn, get                         structure we’ve inherited, which involves 17       your homework or                                       to use occasional pre-paid                      families and individuals with
    healthcare and community                      types of concessions and six types of free         looking for help                                       services but rely largely on free               a concessional discount. This
                                                                                                                                                            Wi-Fi or community access for
    services, connect with family                 travel passes. An innovative overhaul can create   performed online.                                      connection.
                                                                                                                                                                                                            would help overcome Victoria’s
                                                  simple, fair and proportionate fares to meet the                                                                                                          large ‘capital-country’ digital
    and friends, and participate in               needs of people on low incomes, those with         In the new era of personalised                                                                         gap, and reach the significant
                                                                                                                                                            Coverage beyond the centres
    community life. To maximise                   disability and older people.                       services, choice and control
                                                                                                                                                            of Melbourne, Ballarat and
                                                                                                                                                                                                            number of people who are
                                                                                                     is increasingly digital, with
    people’s mobility, Victoria                                                                                                                             Bendigo could provide digital
                                                                                                                                                                                                            currently excluded.35

    needs great public transport                  Revamp public transport to work                    internet portals for your bank
                                                                                                                                                            access for people who really
                                                  for everybody                                      account, tax, Centrelink, NDIS,
                                                                                                                                                            need it, like age and disability                Deliver the skills for
    at affordable prices, and for                                                                    MyAgedCare or MySchool.
                                                                                                                                                            pensioners, and young people                    digital inclusion
                                                  Victoria can have a 21st-century public
    those with greater needs there                transport system. We can revamp our                Digital participation improves                         from low-income families who                    Victoria can invest in digital
    can be a well-resourced                       public transport network to truly work for         school performance and                                 would benefit from online                       literacy services to further
                                                  all Victorians, including older people and         educational outcomes,                                  access for schoolwork and                       bridge the digital divide. Digital
    mobility program providing                    those with disability. We need a strong and        employment opportunities,                              connecting to their peers. This                 inclusion is more than devices
    individualised transport.                     enduring pipeline of public transport upgrade      and social inclusion.34                                could be supplemented by more                   and connectivity: it requires
                                                  investments, repairing our legacy infrastructure                                                          community access centres,                       digital literacy skills. People on
                                                  to meet modern access standards, aiming to be                                                             expanding from local library                    low incomes and people with
    Boost rural and regional                      fully accessible by 2022.33                                                                               models into community facilities                disability are likely to be less
    transport options                                                                                                                                       like neighbourhood houses and                   digitally literate.36 Investing in
                                                                                                                                                            community centres.
    Boosting public transport is one of the       Broaden transport subsidies                                                                                                                               community delivered digital
    most important investments that can                                                                                                                                                                     literacy programs helps include
                                                  Victoria can make sure that everyone, regardless
    be made in regional Victoria, where                                                                                                                                                                     these people in the online
                                                  of their ability, can get where they need to be
    people travel further and at greater          affordably by expanding its transport subsidy
    expense. In many parts of regional                                                               _
                                                  program to more transport options. Currently,
    Victoria the population is ageing, and
                                                                                                          Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, Retail Electricity Pricing Inquiry: Preliminary Report, 22 September 2017, p.42
                                                  the mobility program is restricted to taxis, and
    public transport is a lifeline that allows
                                                                                                          Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, Retail Electricity Pricing Inquiry: Preliminary Report, 22 September 2017; Independent
                                                  can’t be used for cheaper options like Uber or          Review of the Electricity & Gas Retail Markets in Victoria, August 2017
    people to shop, attend appointments           community transport.                               23
                                                                                                          Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, Retail Electricity Pricing Inquiry: Preliminary Report, 22 September 2017, 84-85;
    and connect with the community. For                                                                   Australian Energy Regulator, ‘AER electricity wholesale performance monitoring: Hazelwood advice’, March 2018
    young people it also increases the
    prospects of getting a job, getting a
                                                  Slash costs by championing                         24
                                                                                                          Sustainability Victoria, Victorian Households Energy Report, May 2014
                                                                                                          Premier of Victoria, Helping Victorians bust their energy bills, media release, 22 April 2018
                                                  community transport

    qualification, and being able to access                                                          26
                                                                                                          Victorian Council of Social Service, Power Struggles: Everyday Battles to Stay Connected, 2017
    health and community services.                Victoria can catch up with and surpass             27
                                                                                                          Centre for Social Impact, Why is financial stress on the rise?, September 2017; Australian Competition and Consumer Commission,
                                                  other states by investing in the fully-fledged          Retail Electricity Pricing Inquiry: Preliminary Report, 22 September 2017, p.13
    Beef up buses in the                          development of a community transport industry.     28
                                                                                                          Reserve Bank of Australia, The Australian Economy and Financial Markets, March 2018

    outer suburbs                                                                                         N Brackertz, Time, Trust, Respect: Case Management in Emergency Relief—The Doorways Model, Salvation Army, 2014
                                                  In other states, community transport moves
                                                  tens of thousands of people each week, and is      30
                                                                                                          N Brackertz, I Wish I’d Known Sooner! The Impact of Financial Counselling on Debt Resolution and Personal Wellbeing, Salvation Army,
    Victoria can reach more people                                                                        2012
                                                  cheaper than other transport services. Victoria
    with its public transport network by                                                             31
                                                                                                          In Victoria, the Financial and Consumer Rights Council estimates there are approximately 160 FTE financial counsellors (of which
                                                  can eliminate the barriers to community                 approximately 110 FTE positions are funded by State Government). With 500,000 financially distressed Victorian households, the current
    boosting the bus system, especially
                                                  transport growth and deliver affordable, quality        ratio is less than one third of the modest 1:1,000 Financial Counselling Australia target, with one financial counsellor to every 3,125
    in Melbourne’s outer suburbs where                                                                    financially distressed households: see Financial Counselling Australia, Pre-budget submission to the Federal Government (2018-19 Budget),
                                                  transport for people with mobility difficulties.
    trains and trams don’t reach the                                                                      December 2017.
    communities that often experience                                                                32
                                                                                                          Infrastructure Victoria, Victoria’s 30-year Infrastructure Strategy, p.125
    the most disadvantage. Victoria needs                                                            33
                                                                                                          31 December 2022 is the target date for all buses to be accessible under the Disability Standards for Accessible Public Transport 2002, and
                                                                                                          all train and tram infrastructure under the Disability (Access to Premises) Standards 2010.
    to restructure its bus network32 to run                                                          34
                                                                                                          Salvation Army, The Hard Road: National Economic & Social Impact Survey 2017, p.54
    more frequent and direct services,                                                               35
                                                                                                          J Thomas, J Barraket, C Wilson, S Ewing, T MacDonald, J Tucker and E Rennie, Measuring Australia’s Digital Divide: The Australian Digital
    concentrating on places disconnected                                                                  Inclusion Index 2017, p.27-29
    from the rail network.                                                                           36
                                                                                                          J Thomas, J Barraket, C Wilson, S Ewing, T MacDonald, M Mundell and J Tucker, Measuring Australia’s Digital Divide: The Australian Digital
                                                                                                          Inclusion Index 2016

28 | Delivering a good life for every Victorian                                                                                                                                                           VCOSS State Election Platform 2018 | 29
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