Compassionate state budget takes bold and big steps to fix society’s inequalities

25 November 2020

Social justice organisation the Brotherhood of St Laurence (BSL) welcomes the Victorian Government’s bold and progressive investment in tackling joblessness, homelessness and climate change for society’s most disadvantaged. This was a historic opportunity to address inequality and the Andrews Government has risen to the challenge by taking the first step towards addressing insecure work with sick leave for casuals; significant social housing investment; and addressing climate energy and energy poverty. The budget offers much needed investment in jobs, housing and the Victorian community.

BSL Executive Director Conny Lenneberg said “This compassionate budget shows real leadership and will drive the recovery for all Victorians, including those doing it toughest. COVID-19 has shaken our economy and society to its core and this budget will provide homes for the homeless, jobs for the jobless and energy bill relief for our fellow Victorians in their hour of need. This is a big step in the right direction that we hope is built upon in future budgets”.

The intersection of insecure work and disadvantage with COVID-19 has been devastating. BSL’s “Voices from the COVID-19 Frontline” Report found that of the 189 workers in our employment programs, 44% were in casual jobs without sick leave, compared with the national average of 24%. The proposed new Secure Work Pilot Scheme has the potential to plug some of the holes in our safety net to ensure a fairer society.

“We are pleased that the budget has recognised that women and young people have disproportionately been impacted by the pandemic. Targeted investment for this workforce will be life changing for many Victorians, as will expanded job programs for temporary visa holders such as people seeking asylum, who are not covered by existing safety nets.”

BSL also welcomes the Government’s energy measures which have a direct impact on those experiencing poverty and disadvantage. The historic $797 million household energy efficiency support package will provide much needed short and long-term energy bill relief and reduce energy poverty.

“Those who are doing it toughest should never have to choose between putting food on the table and keeping warm during winter or cool in summer without breaking the bank. The household energy support is even more important as the repercussions of income support cuts will hit many next year. The investment in 6 renewable energy zones will also create jobs and address climate change.

“The pandemic has exposed the great inequalities that exist in our society. This budget is a significant step forward that we need to build upon to ensure that no Victorian is left behind”.

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