Building capability and creating opportunity for the most disadvantaged people in our community must be a priority in any budget that aspires to meet the test of equity and fairness, says the Brotherhood of St Laurence.
In its third Budget, the Andrews Government’s plan to address the scourge of family violence with $1.9 billion to implement all recommendations of the Royal Commission into Family Violence is most welcome. Family violence overwhelmingly impacts women and children, and is a key driver of intergenerational disadvantage.
In a departure from the way law and order debates are usually framed, Premier Andrews has applied a social lens to family violence by describing it as "Australia's number one law and order issue".
This thinking could be extended to the vexed area of community safety which also emerges as a key funding priority in this budget, and includes a record $2 billion boost for police.
"We need to carefully balance the investments we make to secure community safety with our efforts to prevent the root causes of offending. The challenge of youth justice, for example, should not be seen outside its social context," said Professor Shelley Mallett, General Manager of the Brotherhood's Research and Policy Centre.
"Young people's offending and antisocial behaviour cannot be considered in isolation from their broader life experiences. Most early offenders have left school early, been in the child protection system or experienced homelessness."
With Victoria's youth unemployment exceeding 13 per cent, and even higher rates in outer suburbs and regional areas, there is more work for the Victorian Government to do to boost the prospects of disadvantaged youth, urged Professor Mallett.
The Brotherhood also welcomes the priority given to regional infrastructure and economic development projects outside Melbourne.
"To really tackle poverty and disadvantage, we need to invest in disadvantaged people and the places they live in. These communities often have poor services and public transport and very limited job opportunities. The new budget initiatives pave the way for more investment," Professor Mallett said.
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Acknowledgement of country
The Brotherhood of St Laurence acknowledges and recognises the Traditional Owners of the land upon which we live and work, and we pay our respects to their Elders both past and present.