This has been a challenging budget for the state government, with COVID debt repayment front and centre.
Within this climate it’s a welcome relief most critical youth-focused service delivery is continuing, and increased taxes and levies are not targeted at young people. This means young Victorians experiencing disadvantage and marginalisation are not having to wear the costs of COVID debts.
Sadly some services were not refunded. We also didn’t see any money specifically tied to the roll out of the government’s youth strategy.
Unfortunately, this budget has no protection for renters or improvements for social housing, and there are some cuts to employment and energy concessions.
But there have been some positives.
The government has invested significantly in supporting self-determination for First Nations people.
We’re seeing support for health-led responses for people experiencing mental health crisis and alcohol and other drugs issues.
There’s also increased investment in activities to support better reach into rural and regional communities, such as strengthening support for teachers.
The budget includes an increase of 3.3% (When a budget is increased to account for inflation.indexation) to baseline community sector funding. This will provide some support for national wage increases; we are hopeful for continued support in line with the SCHADS stands for Social, Community, Home Care and Disability Services. The SCHADS Award lists the national wages for people who work in these services. At the start of every financial year, SCHADS is increased to account for inflation.SCHADS Award increase.
Find out more about how the budget affects you here.
Victorian households can again access the $250 Power Saving Bonus through the Victorian Energy Compare website (from 24 March 2023 – 31 August 2023).
While we welcome any measure to reduce cost-of-living pressure, this will provide little relief for young people facing rising rents and utility expenses and other cost-of-living stresses. With nothing for renters in the budget, there’s a missed opportunity to support young renters access safe, affordable and secure housing.
Housing and homelessness
We know young people leaving When young people are unable to live with family or other carers, they will live in residential care housing with youth workers. This is also known as 'out of home care'.residential care are at a high risk of homelessness.1 In this budget the government has recognised the particular vulnerabilities of these young people with $32.6m over four years to deliver a A model where a person can access permanent housing without having to be connected to a service first. They can also access support services, but it isn't a condition for keeping their house.Housing First approach for young care leavers. This funding will provide young care leavers with the flexible wraparound support they require.
Additional announcements include:
- $26.5m over four years to support Victorian homelessness services.
- $67.6m over four years for sustained solutions for Housing First to end rough sleeping.
- $40.4m over four years for targeted housing and support to meet critical demand, with some allocation to youth specific homelessness support services – Village 21 Preston, Holmesglen Education First Youth Foyer, Kids Under Cover Studio and Homelessness Youth Dual Diagnosis Initiative programs.
The budget also announced:
- $140.8m over four years for cooling public housing towers.
With a quarter of people experiencing homelessness in Victoria aged 12 to 24,2 we will continue to work with government to support further scaling up of what works.We will continue advocating for urgent investment in more social housing stock and the development of a Victorian Youth Homelessness Strategy.
In a massive win for our natural environment the budget announced the transition out of native forest logging has been brought forward six years to 2024, with $200m announced to support the transition.
There’s been some additional investments in climate change:
- $44.5m over two years to establish the State Electricity Commission to accelerate investment in renewable energy in partnership with industry, deliver benefits to households through lower energy bills, and assist in meeting Victoria’s renewable energy targets.
- $16m over four years for Clean Energy Worker Training Centres for the emerging wind and hydrogen industries.
- $20m over four years to deliver climate action including legislating the 2030 and 2035 interim targets and net-zero emissions; delivery of the next Climate Change Strategy, sector pledges and Climate Science Report; as well as continued analysis and strategic advice on Victoria’s transition to net-zero by 2045.
In a positive for local place-based renewable energies there’s:
- $42.3m over four years for 100 neighbourhood batteries across Victoria.
- $5.1m over four years for driving down businesses and households gas bills.
- Funding will also continue the Government’s Gas Substitution Roadmap to encourage electrification.
Some small investments include:
- $3m to introduce a clean energy Vocational Education and Training (VET) pathway to the VCE Vocational Major from 2024. This will support students to develop job-ready skills in the renewables sector.
- $2.9m for 10,000 work experience placements in clean energy.
- $2.9m for the ResourceSmart Schools program to continue. This will embed sustainable behaviours among Victorian school communities to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, resource usage and waste to landfill.
Within these commitments we are pleased there’s a focus on building a skilled workforce which will create opportunities for young people.
We welcome the government’s recognition of the need for ongoing support for disaster recovery and resilience following the devastating October 2022 floods.
Following from last year’s investment in flood recovery of over $1.65b, a further $173.8m for flood recovery has been committed over four years.
We’re pleased to see some investment that recognises the impact of disasters on community with $0.5m to deliver early intervention and psychological services to support the mental health of flood-affected communities.
Our work in disaster resilience and recovery shows the critical need for young people to be actively involved in disaster resilience. Ongoing we would like to see:
- Youth workers trained in trauma-informed disaster response
- Disaster workers trained to work directly with young people.
We know recovery is a long process. We hope the funding committed will be ongoing to support youth participation, and fund early intervention and prevention supports in the flood recovery process.
The budget also announced:
- $36.5m over four years to bolster the forest firefighting workforce.
- $3.8m over four years to maintain strategic fuel breaks.
The government continues its commitment to Victoria’s mental health reforms.
We welcome the modest investment of $7.8 million over two years to develop health-led responses to people experiencing mental health crisis instead of a police-led response.
While there aren’t any major youth-specific investments, other announcements that will impact on young people, their families and carers include:
- $90.5m over four years to establish three new Mental Health and Wellbeing Locals in Northcote, Leongatha and Narre Warren, and to plan for a further 20.
- Over $156m in funding over four years to improve access to acute care for those experiencing mental illness.
Funding will also address urgent service demand and build the forensic youth mental health workforce, with an increased focus on regional areas.
With only $1m over two years invested in wellbeing and connection and $17.7m over three years to support suicide prevention and response efforts we will continue to urge government to prioritise critical early intervention and prevention services and support for young people to reduce the need for crisis and acute care.
We are pleased about $23m over four years to provide free pads and tampons in public places. This is a great first step to easing stress caused by the cost of period products. This will see 500 dispenser machines with free pads and tampons installed in up to 700 sites across Victoria, including:
- Train stations
- Cultural institutions – i.e., State Library and Melbourne Museum
We hope young people in rural and regional areas who cannot always access sites like these are also considered.
Other health announcements include:
$37.8m over four years for targeted health support for children and young people in When young people are unable to live with family or other carers, they will live in residential care housing with youth workers. This is also known as 'out of home care'.residential care.
There will be $153.9m over four years invested in women’s health, including:
- $64m for 10,800 additional laparoscopies, to help treat endometriosis.
- $58m for 20 women’s health clinics and a dedicated Aboriginal-led women’s clinic.
- $10m to establish nine sexual and reproductive health clinics.
YACVic is pleased to see this budget’s increased focus on sexual and reproductive health.
Investments show the government is on the right track and preparing for the age of criminal responsibility to be raised to 12, with:
- $13.7m over four years for preventing youth offending through early intervention.
- $24.2m over four years to reduce future justice demand and keep people out of prison. For young people this includes enhancing the Aboriginal Youth Cautioning Program (10–17 years), and expanding Youth Outreach Programs to assist young people (10–24 years) at risk of long‑term involvement in the criminal justice system.
- $14m over two years for legal assistance and supporting Victorians with disability.
- $3m in 2023-24 to address over-representation in youth justice.
- $50.9m over 2 years for continuing Youth Justice initiatives.
- $5m in 2023-24 supporting progressive reform in Youth Justice, provided for early intervention, diversion and family therapy programs for 10–11-year-old young people in contact, or at risk of contact, with the justice system.
- $17m to improve justice outcomes for Aboriginal Victorians.
We are pleased the government has continued to invest in the Embedded Youth Outreach Program. YACVic would love to see this successful youth diversion initiative expanded across metro, regional and rural areas.
As the government raises the age of criminal responsibility on a staggered timeline of 10 to 12 years of age in 2024, then to 14 in 2027, we hope they will continue to invest in, scale up and resource trauma-informed, culturally responsive community-led alternatives to prison including:
- Creating safe spaces for young people
- After hours When workers find and support people in the community who can't or don't come to services themselves.assertive outreach support.
- A Victorian youth homelessness strategy so all young people in Victoria have access to safe secure accommodation.
- Implementing early intervention, prevention and diversion strategies that strengthen family relations, connection to community and culture, and (re)engagement with employment, education and training.
Alcohol and other drugs (AOD)
While there are no major announcements for the youth alcohol and other drugs (AOD) sector, we are reassured critical early intervention youth AOD services will continue.
The government has committed to $372.4m to the AOD sector, including:
- The Medically Supervised Injecting Room in Richmond, outreach services, treatment and withdrawal beds across nine locations, navigation and advocacy services, and surveillance of emerging drugs.
- Funding will also increase access to pharmacotherapy with nine opioid therapy clinics in metro and regional Victoria, support 84 new AOD entry level graduates, expand Victoria’s naloxone supply program, and expand the U-Turn program into the Hume region.
There’s also funding to continue the state-wide roll out of the health-based response to public intoxication, including dedicated services for Aboriginal Victorians and centralised clinical and referral support services.
Victoria will also have a new residential rehabilitation for Victorian workers with establishment funding of $12m over three years.
The government recognises the vulnerability of children and young people in out-of-home care with an overall funding commitment of $895m.
An important announcement will see residential care transition to a therapeutic model by 2026, this will significantly impact outcomes for young people in care impacted by a range of traumas including abuse, neglect and family violence.
Continuing the path towards Aboriginal self-determination there’s been funding of $140m to establish Aboriginal-led, end-to-end Child Protection services.
There’s also funding for:
- Housing and wraparound support for young people leaving residential care (see also: housing).
- Responding to demand for residential care placements.
- Increasing therapeutic supports in residential care homes and addressing child sexual exploitation.
- Targeted care packages to support children and young people to live in suitable care arrangements, and to prevent entry into residential care.
Ongoing, it’s important these investments are coupled with a reorientation to early intervention and prevention to decrease the number of children and young people entering the child protection system.
The government's investment in programs promoting school connection shows some commitment to supporting young people’s access to education and career pathways.
There’s modest funding to support safe and inclusive environments in schools:
- $20m over three years to identify and support early school leavers disengaged from the education and training system.
- $10.6m over four years invested in anti-bullying programs in schools.
- $2.8m over four years for the Schools Mental Health Fund.
The government is also investing in several initiatives to make school a more equitable environment, with funding announced for:
- $169m over four years to help cover the costs of school excursions, camps and sporting activities for students in need.
- $105m over four years to support student engagement and learning by continuing programs that deliver school breakfasts, affordable school uniforms, and glasses for young people.
- $15.4m over four years to continue providing menstrual products free of charge to government schools.
There are also extra investments in higher education, including:
- $143.7m over two years from 2023-24 to continue the Free TAFE program and expand the eligibility criteria. This will allows students to access multiple training courses, and make accessing further study easier for young people.
- $8.8m into school-wide positive behaviour support, providing up to 50 scholarships in 2026 and 2027 for teachers and support staff to undertake behaviour support training.
While we welcome the government’s investment in young people’s education, YACVic will continue to advocate to see the Diploma of Youth Work, the Diploma of Alcohol and Other Drugs, and the Diploma of Mental Health added to the Free TAFE scheme. This would improve accessibility for young people from marginalised backgrounds, adding much needed skilled workers to the youth sector.
Analysis continues below.
For young people the budget includes:
- $7.2m in 2023-24 to continued funding of the Latrobe Valley Authority’s operations. This includes for the Ladder Step-Up program, which provides employment support for young people in the Latrobe Valley.
It also includes:
- $55.1m over four years for Supporting Community sector Jobs.
- $35.1m over two years for Jobs Victoria Funding to support disadvantaged jobseekers in Victoria through the extension of Jobs Victoria Mentors.
Unfortunately both Jobs Victoria Advocate and Careers Counsellors programs are not continuing – important free services supporting disadvantaged job seekers, including young people.
While unemployment is at a low 3.9%, we know young people experience much higher levels of unemployment at more than double the national rate.2 We strongly welcome the continuation of programs that provide education and employment support for Paskifka and African young people experiencing disadvantage.
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people
There has been unprecedented investment of $337.8m in Aboriginal and Torres Islander peoples over four years.
We are particularly happy to see the renewal of the Koorie Youth Council’s Marram Nganyin Youth mentoring project for another four years.
Other significant investments include:
- $140m to establish Aboriginal-led end-to-end child protection services.
- $138.2m over four years to meet the State’s legal requirements to enter Treaty negotiations.
- $35.1m over four years to strengthen lifelong Aboriginal health and wellbeing.
- $10.2m over two years to continue the Aboriginal Community Infrastructure Fund.
In Aboriginal youth justice:
- $50.9m over four years continuing youth justice initiatives, including culturally responsive services to support Aboriginal young people in custody.
- $24.2m over four years to reduce future justice demand and keep people out of prison, including enhancing the Aboriginal Youth Cautioning Program to improve cautioning for young people aged 10–17 in collaboration with Victorian Aboriginal communities.
YACVic strongly welcomes the investment towards self-determination and early intervention to support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people. We look forward to continuing to work alongside the Koorie Youth Council to ensure Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people are meaningfully engaged in decisions which affect them.
YACVic is pleased that funding for disability advocacy continues, including for the Youth Disability Advocacy Service (YDAS). YDAS is the only disability service in Victoria dedicated to supporting disabled young people to achieve their human rights.
Other announcements include:
- $31.9m for Students with Disabilities Transport Program, providing transportation to Specialist Schools.
- $10m over two years to improve access to school facilities for students with disabilities.
$202.4m over four plus years to support students with disability and their families, including:
- $122m over four years for the Outside School Hours Care program.
- Introducing NDIS Navigators for families and carers.
- $7.3m supporting the engagement of TAFE Disability Transition Officers.
- Increasing extracurricular activities at specialist schools
- $25m supporting the construction of new hydrotherapy pools at specialist schools.
- $7.5m in scholarships to incentivise students enrolled in their final year of speech pathology and occupational therapist programs to work in regional areas.
Together with these important investments, we would like to see more investment in disabled young people in mainstream schools and for those who are not eligible for the NDIS.
While we haven’t seen any significant targeted investment to support LGBTIQA+ young people, there is some funding for:
$22.5m over four years for delivering Pride in our future to strengthen the health, wellbeing, social and economic outcomes of LGBTIQA+ Victorians.
- An LGBTIQA+ Community Grants Program
- Expansion of the Rainbow Tick program
- Pride in Ageing pilot
- Bendigo Queer Arts Festival
There’s also a modest amount of:
- $17.7m over three years for priority suicide prevention and response efforts. This includes expanded LGBTIQA+ suicide prevention and mental health services.
It’s encouraging to see the government is listening to community voices about the importance of targeted suicide prevention supports for LGBTIQA+ people.
We urge the government to contribute even more significantly to LGBTIQA+ young people’s mental health in line with our recommendations in the Suicide Prevention and Response Strategy Submission.
Migrant and refugee communities
Funding announcements include:
- $77.6m over four years to deliver on commitments to Victoria’s multicultural communities.
- $20.1m over four years for refugee education supports including schools’ capacity building.
- $13.3m over four years for providing targeted support for African and Pasifika young people to promote school engagement.
Within this we are so pleased our friends at the Centre for Multicultural Youth have been refunded to continue their valuable work for the next four years.
These initiatives will support thriving migrant and refugee communities in Victoria, and we welcome dedicated funding for programs for young people.
Refugee and migrant communities have also been considered in key areas like youth justice and healthcare, with the government taking important steps towards creating universally culturally safe and relevant services.
We are waiting to hear if any specific money has been designated to the Victorian Anti-Racism Strategy; we would be concerned about the Strategy’s ability to be effective without significant funding attached.
Funding announcements include:
- $35.6m over four years for Victorian music and community broadcasting.
- $21.7m in 2023-24 for cultural and creative agencies operations.
- $10m in 2023-24 for a digital games and visual effects rebate.
- $2.1m over two years for the Victorian Music Development Office and Music Market to continue to promote music industry development.
- $0.4m in 2023-24 for creative experiences package.
Following the impacts of the pandemic on creative industries, the government is investing in creating industries to drive demand and interest in Victoria. These investments will likely reach some young people, but we would like to see targeted funding to encourage and nurture youth participation in the arts.
Rural and regional
Funding will filter to rural and regional areas through some of the big announcements in schools, healthcare, transport, and jobs.
Specific to regional areas and young people, the government is investing in:
- $4.7m over two years for building equity and excellence for rural and regional students.
- $10m over four years for the Tiny Towns Fund.
- $7.2m in 2023-24 to continued funding of the Latrobe Valley Authority’s operations, including funding for the Ladder Step-Up program which provides employment support for young people in the Latrobe Valley.
- $6m over two years for the Bendigo Regional Employment Precinct.
- $2m in 2023-24 for the Bendigo Art Gallery redevelopment.
- $204.8m over four years spent on targeted initiatives to attract more teachers. This includes funding for pre-service teachers to do their placements in regional, rural and remote schools.
See also: public transport.
We look forward to continuing our work with government to ensure the unique needs of young people in rural and regional areas are supported. Housing and cost-of-living costs in rural and regional areas have skyrocketed, so many young people are being pushed out of their towns or into overcrowded housing.
There’s a need for increased access to mental and primary health, alcohol and other drug and employment and education services that considers the barriers rural and regional young people face in accessing services.
- $600.8m over the next four plus years for 23 new VLocity trains.
- $179.9m over four years as continued funding for cheaper public transport fares for the regions.
- $110.8m over four years for regional rail sustainability.
- $219.1m funding for more trains for better train timetables in Regional Victoria.
- $59.3m over four plus years to prepare the tram network for Next Generation Trams. This includes infrastructure works to prepare for new trams on routes 57, 59 and 82 from 2025.
- $36.4m over four years for bus service improvements across Victoria. This includes the roll out of zero emission buses to help reach the goal of net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2045.
While we are encouraged by these announcements, many rural and regional areas still have little or no access to public transport which meet their needs, including travel between regional towns and centres.
Young people who can’t yet, or don’t drive are at a significant disadvantage in accessing work, education, services, and social events. This is especially true for young people who access work or education outside of mainstream school, such as apprentices and tradies.
YACVic continues to appeal to the Victorian Government to ensure equitable access to public transport for young people in rural and regional areas.
Continuing the important work from the Royal Commission into Family Violence, the government is dedicating $77.1m over four years towards ending family violence and sexual assault.
- Funding to continue delivering support for victim survivors and perpetrator intervention programs.
- $3.3m to enable victim-survivors of family violence to appear in court remotely when applying of a Family Violence Order.
- $30.1m over one year invested in the primary prevention of family violence.
- $55.1m over four years for supporting community sector jobs, including Family Violence Service Delivery Output.
This ongoing investment is critical. We call on the government to make a substantial investment in youth-specific family violence services, to recognise and support young people as victim-survivors in their own right. Programs that upskill youth workers should be a key part of this.
Family violence is a leading cause of youth homelessness. We urge the government for a Victorian Youth Homelessness Strategy that accounts for the needs of young people as victim-survivors.
Other investments that impact young people
- $38m over four years for provide critical support to unpaid carers.
- $7.5m over two years for community participation and support, including food relief.
We love the continuation of Zoo’s Victoria Kids Free policy and encourage everyone under 16 to get out to Melbourne Zoo, Healesville Sanctuary, Kyabram Fauna Park and Werribee Open Range Zoo free of charge on weekends, public holidays and during school holidays.
Policy contact: policy@YACVic.org.au
- Martin R, Cordier R, Jau J, Randall S. Accommodating transition: improving housing outcomes for young people leaving OHC [Internet]. Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute; 2021 Oct [cited 2023 May 25]. Available from: https://apo.org.au/node/314424
- Australian Bureau of Statistics. Labour force, Australia. [Internet]. 2023 Mar [cited 2023 May 9]. Available from: https://www.abs.gov.au/statistics/labour/employment-and-unemployment/labour-force-australia/latest-release#underemployment