November 24, 2020 |
The Victorian Government has released a Budget that will help deliver social justice to millions of Victorians ensuring fewer members of our community are left behind as the State recovers from the impact of COVID-19, Federation of Community Legal Centres CEO Serina McDuff said.
Ms McDuff said the continuation of $3 million in funding for Integrated Services was a welcome relief for many local communities. Integrated Services bring together community lawyers and community professionals such as healthcare workers, social workers, financial counsellors and schools to deliver support holistically to individuals.
“We can’t overstate the importance of integrated services in ensuring greater access to justice for Victorians. We know that often, individuals are not aware that they have underlying legal issues that are exacerbating social, health or financial problems.
“That’s why Integrated Services are so important to local communities. They help individuals recognise legal challenges and make it easier for them to seek the support they need. We’re delighted that this government has recognised the importance of integrated services and is continuing its support of them.”
She singled out the $5.3 billion investment in social housing, the almost $870 million in mental health support, the $235 million jobs recovery package, the $797 million for household energy efficiency and the $170 million to make kindergarten free in 2021 as measures that would have a significant impact on Victorians.
“We welcome the government’s commitment to a social response to help the State recover from, first the bushfires and then the pandemic,” she said.
Ms McDuff said it was heartening to see the government had invested $47.3 million to improve audio-visual technology in courts, providing greater flexibility and, most importantly, greater access to justice, particularly for those living in regional areas or with care responsibility or impediments that make it challenging to attend court. This is something the Federation called for in its plan – A Just and Equitable COVID Recovery.
“We also welcome the $272 million for courts in Wyndham providing better access to justice for people across the western suburbs. This court precinct will provide a much needed safe place for victim-survivors of family violence,” she said.
“It’s pleasing to see the government is continuing to invest in supporting victim-survivors of family violence, following the recommendations of the Royal Commission into Family Violence.”
She said the increased protection for children in out-of-home care, and raising the age of protection from 18 to 21, would provide enormous benefit to those who are often more vulnerable to ending up in the justice system.
“This is a budget to be celebrated,” said Ms McDuff.
“It will tackle inequality and social and economic disadvantage head-on. This Budget will bring enormous relief to many Victorians. We look forward to this commitment continuing to ensure no Victorian is left behind as we recover from the impact of the pandemic and the bushfires.”