Social and Community Infrastructure Boost in Victorian Budget Brings Hope for Interface Councils
WEDNESDAY 25 NOVEMBER 2020
The Interface Councils group is encouraged by yesterday’s Victorian State Budget announcement prioritising long-term social and economic recovery for vulnerable residents in the ten outer suburban areas whose livelihoods have been negatively impacted by COVID-19.
Interface Councils spokesperson Cr Karen Egan of Nillumbik Shire Council said this year’s budget was a reassuring announcement that can offer hope beyond traditional economic support to over 1.6 million people living in outer Melbourne, although there was no direct stimulus package for Interface Councils.
“We’re glad to see local community wellbeing at the heart of the recovery effort. Melbourne’s Interface Councils have been particularly hard hit by the pandemic and they also have a primary role to play in the state’s economic and social recovery,” Cr Egan said.
The Interface Council suburbs of Truganina, Hoppers Crossing, Tarneit, Werribee, Point Cook, Craigieburn, Roxburgh Park, Mickleham and Cranbourne have more than 14,500 JobKeeper applications according to the Victorian Department of Treasury and Finance.
Interface Councils’ own research shows the ten outer suburban Councils have higher rates of rental and mortgage stress than metropolitan Melbourne, with few wrap-around health and wellbeing support.
Since March, there has been an uptick of family violence incidents. There has also been an increase in the severity of these incidents with support services unable to properly manage demand.
“There were some funding announcements that will have a particularly positive impact on local community health and wellbeing, like the $9.7 million for prevention and early intervention activities related to family violence. We will have to wait to see how this funding will directly impact Interface communities but it is no doubt a step in the right direction.”
However, there is still a long way to go to manage the unique challenges of our residents so that no one is left out in the cold.
The group welcomes prioritising social indicators like mental health, housing, family violence support services and social connection on equal footing with more classic economic measures of recovery such as local employment, GDP, debt and borrowings.
“We are encouraged that State and Local Governments can work together to develop ambitious policies and achieve new objectives based on the current social and economic needs of outer suburban residents.
“Now is the time to play catch up so that local communities are not left further behind,” Cr Egan said.
Interface Councils are pleased to see key investments in the below areas in particular:
Growing Suburbs Fund
o $75 million allocated to IFC and Peri-Urban Councils
o Ten per cent maximum allocation of total funding
Mental health and gender equity
o $492 million for 120 mental health beds in Geelong, Epping, Sunshine (and Melbourne.)
o $238 million to support family violence victim survivors and their families, including:
o $18 million for family violence refuge responses
o $9.7 million for prevention and early intervention activities
o $170 million for free kindergarten in 2021
o $13 million to implement the Gender Equality Act 2020
o $12 million to support small and medium-sized women-led Victorian businesses to digitize, innovate and grow.
o $5.3 billion to construct more than 12,000 new dwellings
o The LGAs of Cardinia, Casey, Hume, Melton, Mitchell, Whittlesea and Wyndham have been prioritised as locations (along with 14 other LGAs state-wide) where social and affordable housing is urgently needed.
o $75 million for a new Melton hospital
o $66 million to acquire land in Cranbourne, Pakenham, Whittlesea, Eltham, Point Cook, (the inner south and Torquay) for new community hospitals
o $4.8 million for the future expansion of the Werribee Mercy Hospital
o $4.5 million to the Angliss Hospital at Ferntree Gully
Public transport and roads
o $450 road maintenance blitz
o $388 Keeping Victorians Moving initiative to reduce congestion and improve travel times
o $117 million to fund metropolitan road and intersection upgrades
o $1.8 billion Western Roads upgrade – duplicating and improving arterial roads and 8 priority road upgrades
o $63 statewide School and Community safety program – including new pedestrian crossings, cycling and walking infrastructure and road safety around schools.
o $3.1 billion in the school capital funding program
o $1.9 billion to upgrade 162 schools and build additions
o 11 new schools and 7 additional stages of schools across metropolitan and regional Victoria and 234 school upgrades
o Specialist schools servicing the Mornington area
Community facilities and local livelihoods
o $52 million for parks upgrades packs including in the Dandenong Ranges, Mornington Peninsula and Point Cook.
o $20 million to reviltalise town centres including Broadmeadows, Lilydale, Melton and Tarneit.
“This budget will go a fair way to prioritise the most vulnerable in our communities, support local health, provide employment and get local priorities on track,” Cr Egan said.
For more information, visit the Interface Councils Website: https://www.interfacecouncils.com.au/
Interface Councils Media Contact: Zoe Forbes via firstname.lastname@example.org or (03) 8317 0111