Victorian Budget: welcome boost in the state’s human infrastructure

1 May 2018

Beyond cranes in the sky, the more invisible investments that build the human infrastructure of our state must be a priority for any state government concerned with fairness, says the Brotherhood of St Laurence (BSL).

The Andrews Government’s significant commitments today in vocational education and training meet this test and are warmly welcomed by the Brotherhood. This key package recognises that we need to invest in both the skills and aspirations of the most disadvantaged Victorians, especially young unemployed people.

“Measures including establishing 30 fee-free priority TAFE courses, in areas ranging from aged care and disability to construction trades, will create opportunities for those who are too often left behind by the modern economy,” said Executive Director Conny Lenneberg. “Strengthening our public training system is critical so that everyone in our community can realise their talents and potential,” she said.

“BSL knows from long experience that education is the foundation stone of opportunity, so it’s pleasing to see innovation around school-based apprenticeships and support for efforts to re-engage young people who find themselves out of the school system.” Ms Lenneberg said other welcome directions included providing a much-needed infrastructure boost – including new schools – for the burgeoning growth corridors in Melbourne’s outer suburbs.

“These communities have high aspirations but face a range of challenges, amplified by the lag in providing basic social services and limited access to jobs and transport.” Amid the good news of today’s budget, Ms Lenneberg highlighted the need for more efforts around energy affordability, including the introduction of a basic service offer to ensure a fair price for power.

More social services to divert people from the justice system

In the lead-up to the next election, and with the recent focus on law and order issues, she also issued a challenge to all parties to focus on an early investment in social services. “Why invest in building a new prison when we can do so much more to divert people from the pathways that can lead them to the justice system?”

Ms Lenneberg also noted that Victoria is facing a massive shortage of affordable housing and this remains a long term challenge. “Whilst recognising the government’s investments – including its response to rough sleeping – we need intensive and sustained efforts backed by a substantial package for affordable housing.”