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

This analysis identifies key spending in the Budget that targets young people. While this list is extensive, it doesn't cover every initiative because nearly everything in the Budget will impact young people in some way. Many of the initiatives listed here will support people of all ages, including young people.

This Budget has a strong focus on place-based and community-led initiatives, and we urge that projects and programs should meaningfully involve young people in their design and delivery.

Mental Health

The Government has committed $3.8 billion to reform Victoria’s mental health system including:

  • $266 million specifically for young people’s mental health and wellbeing including funding for Youth Area Mental Health and Wellbeing Services, extended hours, targeted assertive outreach, integration of alcohol and other drug treatment into mental health services, research, online delivery and operations of organisations delivering mental health care to young people.
  • $217 million over four years for a School Mental Health Fund to deliver programs, staff and other supports specific to each school community’s needs, such as mental health and wellbeing staff, therapy dog programs and mental health first aid training.  This will be rolled out from Term 3 2022 in rural and regional areas, recognising the additional needs in those areas.
  • $348.6 million over four years to deliver 82 secure mental health beds and supporting infrastructure for people involved in the justice system.
  • $173 million over four years for suicide prevention and response – to continue to support the 13 Hospital Outreach Post-suicidal Engagement (HOPE) sites which includes four new child and youth HOPE sites
  • $13.3 million over four years specifically to support the mental health and wellbeing of people in rural and regional Victoria, through incentives for mental health workers to find work in rural and regional Victoria, trials of digital mental healthcare delivery, and funding to support Live4Life and Be Well in the Ranges.
  • $2.3 million to continue and increase funding for the Healthy Equal Youth (HEY) partners which support LGBTIQA+ young people.
  • $21.3 million over four years to continue and expand services to trans and gender-diverse young people including expanding mental health and primary care at Monash Health and the Royal Children’s Hospital, and a new clinical pathway from the Royal Children’s Hospital Gender Service to Orygen.

YACVic welcomes this Budget’s historic commitment to young people’s mental health. The Royal Commission into Victoria’s Mental Health System showed that systemic and structural change is needed to support young people experiencing mental ill-health in Victoria. This Budget appropriately invests in initiatives that will support young people by intervening early and providing support where it is needed.

As per the recommendation from the Royal Commission, mental health spending will be funded by a new levy, which will raise $843 million per year from big business.  Businesses will pay an additional 0.5 per cent payroll tax above $10 million in national wages, and a further 0.5 per cent levy above $100 million.

YACVic is pleased to see the Government implement so many of the recommendations from the Royal Commission so quickly, and urges the government to continue to place young people are at the centre of this reform by ensuring design and delivery using co-design principles.


  • $5.3 million over two years to support workers in the gig economy by implementing some of the recommendations of the recent Inquiry into the On-Demand Workforce.
  • $9.6 million over four years to fast-track wage theft claims through the Magistrate’s Court to make it faster, cheaper and easier for employees to recover stolen wages.
  • $4 million over four years to deliver traineeships and mentoring opportunities for creative First Nations people, migrants, refugees and young people to develop their careers in creative industries.
  • $14.6 million over four years to continue and expand the Good Money program with phone-based and digital access. Good Money delivers no-interest loans and financial advice to people experiencing financial stress.

In Victoria, thousands of young people are still looking for secure work. YACVic welcomes this Budget’s investment in improving conditions for workers in the gig economy and to fast-track wage theft claims, and we call on the Government to commit to a Youth Jobs Guarantee which focuses on creating traineeships, apprenticeships and jobs for young people, with an emphasis on sustainable and meaningful employment.


  • $193.7 million over four years for homelessness services including continuing the Private Rental Assistance Program. $11 million will be for targeted housing support for young people leaving the care and justice systems, as well as funding for the Kangan Education First Youth Foyer.
  • $40.4 million over four years to provide accommodation and wellbeing support to 2,000 people with mental illness, and allocated housing places in the Big Housing Build which will provide an additional 500 places for young people with mental illness delivered through a co-design.

YACVic welcomes continued funding to successful programs that support young people at risk of or experiencing homelessness, and encourages the government to consider building more Youth Foyers across the state.

The Big Housing Build announced in the last budget will provide dedicated spaces for young people experiencing mental illness, which recognises the clear link between homelessness and mental illness. YACVic urges the government to allocate more spaces in social housing to young people, and to build enough homes to end the waitlist. Thousands of young people are still experiencing homelessness in Victoria, and the Big Housing Build is an unmissable opportunity to set them on a safe and secure pathway in life.

Gender equity

  • $44.1 million over four years to support children affected by family violence and helping victim survivors, including expanding adolescent family violence programs and sexual assault support to children and young people.
  • $1.3 million to support victim survivors of family violence to ensure the safety of, and ongoing connection with, their pets.

YACVic welcomes the Government’s ongoing commitment to preventing family violence and supporting victim survivors, and the recognition of the need for programs for adolescent perpetrators of family violence. YACVic urges the Government to ensure that young people seeking support alone, not as an accompanying child, are provided targeted support.


  • $8.1 million in 2021-22 for more accessible emergency communications, Disability Liaison Officers to facilitate access to health services, and the Victorian Disability Advocacy Program which includes funding for YACVic’s core agency Youth Disability Advocacy Service (YDAS).
  • $3.9 million over four years to fund a team to support disabled young people who have matters before the Children’s Court, making accessing the courts easier and quicker.
  • $29.2 million over four years to fund the Working With Children Check unit, and the operation of an NDIS worker screening unit, to ensure that people working with young people including disabled young people do not pose a risk.
  • $2.5 million in 2021-2022 to Changing Places – building fully accessible public toilet facilities.
  • $19.6 million over four years to continue outside school hours and school holiday programs for disabled young people at six government school sites.
  • $25.2 million in the next financial year for the Students with Disabilities Transport Program        which provides transport assistance to disabled young people to attend school.
  • $15 million between 2021-2023 to build accessible school buildings through adding ramps, handrails and alterations to existing facilities.
  • $10 million between 2021-2023 to provide accessible playgrounds, sensory areas and quiet re-engagement spaces at government schools.
  • $15.5 million to improve access to public transport through an accessibility strategy, level access tram stops, braille plates and other access features.

YACVic welcomes the Budget’s commitment to making Victoria a more inclusive place by investing in programs and services for disabled people. YACVic urges the Victorian Government to continue working directly with disabled young people to identify issues and develop solutions.

Education and Training

  • $3.7 million to resource a state-wide consultation and co-design process to shape community-led changes to schools for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students. The funding will resource Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisations (ACCOs) and Traditional Owner Groups to host community-led conversations on furthering self-determination in schools.
  • $85.9 million over five years to establish a new Victorian Skills Authority to drive innovation in the VET sector, plan for training needs and provide an integrated approach to teaching quality.
  • $99 million over four years to subsidise accredited courses and maintain a high-quality TAFE system.
  • $88.8 million over four years to deliver more training places for people in TAFE and other training systems through subsidised courses, including funding for the Asylum Seeker VET program.
  • $8.8 million for 2022-2023 to support secondary school students to access high-quality VET offerings including continuing the Head Start Apprenticeship and Traineeship Program.
  • $43 million over four years to continue the Doctors in Secondary SchoolsProgram.
  • $491.6 million over four years to build new primary and secondary schools, $276.5 million over three years to buy the land to build them on and $340 million to upgrade existing primary and secondary schools.
  • $72.4 million over four years to redevelop Bendigo Kangan Institute’s Broadmeadow Campus and GOTAFE’s Archer Street Shepparton Campus.

YACVic welcomes this Budget’s investment in the TAFE sector at a time when many young people who have been locked out of the labour market have decided to reskill. Investment in regional TAFEs and the extension of the Head Start and Asylum Seeker VET programs are especially welcome

YACVic encourages the Victorian Skills Authority to meaningfully involve young people in shaping innovation in the sector and contributing to evaluating and improving teacher quality.

It will be important to build wraparound support into initiatives such as Head Start and free TAFE to ensure they are accessible for and supportive of vulnerable and marginalised young people. 

First Nations

  • $58 million to support the work of the newly appointed Yoo-rrook Justice Commission to examine past and current injustices against First Nations people and to chart a course for a new shared future.
  • $27 million over four years to support Koorie Youth Council and other Aboriginal-led organisations to continue the critical service delivery that they are currently providing to Aboriginal Victorians.

YACVic commends the Victorian Government for working towards a treaty with First Nations People. Adequately resourcing the Aboriginal-led Commission is vital to understanding past and current injustices. Without this truth, there can be no treaty and no justice.

YACVic encourages the Victorian Government and the Commission to work with the Koorie Youth Council to ensure the voices, experiences and ideas of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people are meaningfully included.

Youth Justice

  • $15 million over four years to support vulnerable Victorians interacting with the justice system, including extending the Youth Referral and Independent Persons Program where independent adults attend police interviews with young people who do not have a parent or guardian available to attend.
  • $2.5 million over two years to implement the spent convictions scheme which will allow young people with past, minor criminal histories to have easier access to employment opportunities.
  • $6.3 million over four years to continue the Embedded Youth Outreach Program in Werribee and Dandenong which pairs trained youth workers with police, to assess, support and refer marginalised young people, to prevent reoffending.

YACVic welcomes this Budget’s continuing support for programs that work to prevent young people from interacting with the justice system and to support them when they do, which evidence shows are good for young people and communities. YACVic urges the government to consider providing ongoing and expanded funding, in particular to the successful Embedded Youth Outreach Program, which is being delivered in two of Melbourne’s outer-suburban areas.

Environment/Climate Change

  • $10 million over two years to drive progress towards Victoria’s emissions reduction targets and support job creation in clean industries.
  • A Climate Change Strategy with interim targets for emissions reductions and an ultimate target of net zero emissions by 2050.
  • $46.1 million over three years to subsidise purchases of new zero-emissions vehicles, with a target of 50 per cent of all new car sales in Victoria to be zero-emissions vehicles by 2030.

YACVic applauds the Victorian Government for acting on climate change. Thousands of young people around the state have been calling for systemic change to address climate change. These initiatives are a step forward for the Victorian Government.

However, YACVic is concerned that subsidies for zero-emissions vehicles are an inefficient use of resources that will largely be used by relatively well-off Victorians. Other initiatives that would impact young people directly are expanded public transport, particularly in regional and rural communities so fewer people need to drive at all, a faster transition to renewable energy, and long-term investment in tackling the root causes and impacts of climate change.

Rural and Regional

  • $1.4 million over two years to pilot a Skills and Jobs Centre Bus for communities in the Mallee region (including Charlton, Kerang and Robinvale), to give career advice, help with the job search and provide other supports for job seekers.
  • $6.9 million over two years to continue running the Latrobe Youth Space, YACVic’s and the Centre for Multicultural Youth’s rural offices, and the Marram Nganyin Aboriginal Youth Mentoring Program, and to provide support for marginalised young people to participate in Scouts and Girl Guides.
  • $60.6 million over four years to improve and expand bus services in rural, regional and metropolitan Melbourne.
  • $613.1 million over four years to provide funding certainty to VLine, and to support train reliability and punctuality standards, including maintenance.
  • $986 million to build 25 X’Trapolis 2.0 trains for the Metro rail service in Ballarat.

Initiatives covered in other sections of this analysis will support young people in rural and regional Victoria, including infrastructure, transport, education and mental health.

YACVic welcomes the continuation of funding for YACVic Rural, Centre for Multicultural Youth’s rural programs and the Marram Nganyin Aboriginal Youth Mentoring Program – all successful and vital supports for the youth sector and young people.

Youth Sector

  • $18.4 million over two years to engage and support at-risk young people, including community-led initiatives for African and Pasifika young people.

YACVic welcomes the Budget’s investment in targeted youth work programs for young people who face marginalisation and discrimination. YACVic urges the government to provide long-term funding to more youth services to deliver early intervention and support programs to young people across the state.

Social Cohesion

  • $1.5 million over three years to tackle racism in Victoria, through communication, community engagement and training initiatives to reduce vilification and hate-based conduct.
  • $3 million over four years to support school communities and young people in Broadmeadows, Dandenong, North Melbourne, Shepparton, West Heidelberg and Wyndham to be more engaged and informed to reduce the risk of isolation and marginalisation.
  • $1 million for the Melbourne Pride 2021 event to celebrate LGBTIQA+ people.

YACVic welcomes this Budget’s investment in events and programs to enhance social cohesion. After 2020, young people are desperate for opportunities to engage with their communities and their neighbourhoods.

If you have any questions or concerns, please contact YACVic's Policy team by emailing