STATEMENT IN RESPONSE TO 2021-22 VICTORIAN BUDGET

Young people bore the brunt of the COVID-19 crisis, sacrificing so much of their lives for the broader community. Young people were the first to lose jobs, and their education, social connection and crucial rites of passage were disrupted or lost altogether.

The 2021-22 Victorian state budget recognises this, and makes important new investments in mental health, as well as education and family violence prevention.  There is also some much-needed leadership on climate action, which young people see as essential to their future.  

“The 2021-22 Victorian state budget contains historic announcements on youth mental health, and makes positive progress on some other important issues affecting young people’s lives,” says Katherine Ellis, Chief Executive Officer of Youth Affairs Council Victoria (YACVic).

“Youth mental health and well-being were shattered by this generation-defining pandemic, so we applaud the $842 million investment in youth-specific mental health services. This includes suicide prevention, additional bed-based care, and the new School Mental Health Fund, which kickstart the Government’s commitment to the recommendations of the Royal Commission into Victoria's Mental Health System.

“Family violence was exacerbated during COVID-19 and continues to be the main reason behind youth homelessness, so $44.1 million to expand adolescent family violence services is also crucial.

“Education investments of note for young people are the $1.1 billion to build and upgrade 65 schools, funding to increase inclusion and accessibility for disabled young people, and the establishment of the Victorian Skills Authority which should improve vocational education outcomes for young people.

“We are also pleased to see Victoria lead on climate action, with $100 million to reduce emissions by 28-33 per cent by 2025 and 45-50 per cent by 2030.  Many young people see no real future for themselves without action on climate change.”

The youth unemployment rate has returned to almost pre-pandemic levels at 12.3 per cent, but with almost one in three young people being underutilised, there is still a need to address youth unemployment.

“While the Victorian economy is roaring back to life, many young people are still struggling to find adequate employment. We would like to see a dedicated strategy and investment for getting young people back on their feet with secure jobs.”

With young people continuing to struggle on many fronts, YACVic would also like to see more investment in the youth sector, which has played a critical role in engaging and supporting young people through COVID-19 and bushfires. 

“We look forward to the upcoming release of the new Victorian Government Youth Strategy, and the initiatives that will flow from that to improve the lives of young Victorians.

“Youth workers kept young people supported and connected to the community and peers when many other services were shut-down and disrupted. Youth work is an investment in young people’s lives, resilience and future. As we embrace our new COVID-normal, youth work matters now more than ever.”

Other key announcements for young people from the state budget include:

  • $18.4 million over two years on engaging and supporting young people from African and Pasifika backgrounds
  • $2.3 million to increase funding and support of the Healthy Equal Youth partners which support LGBTIQA+ young people
  • Investment in the Creative Industries to create more jobs and support pathways into the industry.
  • $6.3 million to continue the Embedded Youth Outreach Program in Werribee and Dandenong
  • $3.0 million to support school communities and young people in Broadmeadows, Dandenong, North Melbourne, Shepparton, West Heidelberg and Wyndham areas to be more engaged and less isolated
  • $9.6 million to ensure wage-theft cases are heard quickly under a new fast-track model to be established in the Magistrates’ Court.
  • $6.9 million over two years to continue funding for Regional Presence Project, Marram Nganyin, Scouts and Girl Guides and the Latrobe Youth Space.

“We welcome the four-year extension of funding for the Koorie Youth Council (KYC) to continue its important work for young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders.

We also welcome the two-year extensions of the Regional Presence Project, which employs youth workers across Warrnambool, Swan Hill, Morwell and Ballarat, and the Marram Nganyin Aboriginal Youth Mentoring Project, delivered in partnership by YACVic, KYC and five Aboriginal community-controlled organisations.”

-Ends-

YACVic's full analysis will be made available on Friday 21 May 2021.

Media contact: Thomas Feng, YACVic Media and Communications Manager, 0431285275 for any interviews. 

Katherine Ellis, YACVic CEO is available for interviews and analysis, as are two young people interested in youth advocacy. 

 About Youth Affairs Council Victoria (YACVic)

Youth Affairs Council Victoria (YACVic) is the peak body and leading advocate for young people aged 12–25 and youth workers in Victoria. Our vision is that the rights of young people in Victoria are respected, and they are active, visible and valued in their communities.