The 2020-21 Victorian state budget includes major investments in young people’s recovery and future across education, mental health and inclusion.
“Young people have been disproportionately impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. This budget shows a strong commitment by the Victorian Government to supporting young people,” says Katherine Ellis, Chief Executive Officer of YACVic.
“We applaud the $2 billion investment in education to support every student to catch up on school after a difficult year. Importantly, a significant proportion of the funding will provide targeted, in-school support to students with disability and students from disadvantaged backgrounds.
“YACVic also welcomes the $870 million in reforms for the mental health system, which includes substantial announcements for young people.
“The $16 million investment to provide employment opportunities for the lived experience workforce recognises young people as experts in their own lives and in reforming the mental health system.”
“YACVic commends the $75.1 million commitment to extend state support for young people in out-of-home care from 18 to 21 years with the Home Stretch Campaign, with additional supports provided as they transition from the out-of-home care system.
“The $5.3 billion social housing blitz will make a real dent in the waitlists for social housing in the Victorian system. We call on the Victorian Government to ensure that young people are involved in the design so that it suits their unique needs, and to address the systemic barriers that prevent young people from accessing social housing.”
As 20,000 new graduates prepare to enter the job market, joining 100,000 young people who have left the Victorian workforce since January, the $619 million Jobs for Victoria initiative in the state budget must include dedicated funding to youth employment as part of the COVID-19 recovery and for the long-term.
“We hoped to see a comprehensive Youth Employment Plan funded in this budget to identify and create jobs for young people who will otherwise experience a lifetime of disadvantage,” says Ms Ellis.
“COVID-19 has seen disproportionate jobs losses for young people, and a COVID-19 recovery plan that addresses young people’s must prioritise youth employment and financial security.”
YACVic would also like to see more dedicated funding for youth workers, who play a vital role in engaging and supporting young people, building their strengths and identifying issues early, which provides both social and economic outcomes.
“In the wake of this year’s bushfires and now the pandemic, youth workers have played a pivotal role on the frontline to support young people through a generation-defining pandemic,” says Ms Ellis.
“Youth work matters now more than ever. Youth workers and youth services deserve more recognition, support and funding for the important work they do.”
Other key announcements from the state budget include:
- $155 million to provide subsidised and free training specifically for young people, women, refugees and migrants, and retrenched workers
- $47.8 million boost to early intervention services for youth mental health
- $21 million for a state-wide expansion of the HOPE suicide prevention program, which will inject much-needed capacity to support young people who have experienced mental ill-health during COVID-19
- A target to reduce the overrepresentation of Aboriginal young people in youth justice facilities.
- $5 million to pilot a sick leave and carer’s leave scheme for casual workers
- One further year of funding for the Regional Presence Project which employs youth workers across Warrnambool, Swan Hill, Morwell and Ballarat, to help young people be connected, supported and empowered by the community.
- One further year of funding for the Marram Nganyin Aboriginal Youth Mentoring Project, delivered in partnership by five Aboriginal communities, the Koorie Youth Council and YACVic.
COVID-19 Recovery Plan for Young People
The COVID-19 Recovery Plan for Young People, developed as a collective effort by the youth sector, provides recommendations to Government and others on investment in six priority areas: employment, mental health, housing, access and inclusion, youth participation and a strong youth sector, to enable young Victorians to recover from the impacts of COVID-19.
The Recovery Plan has been endorsed by over 50 major organisations which play a key role in supporting and developing young people, including the Victorian Chamber of Commerce, Young Workers Centre, and Industry, VicHealth and Orygen.
Find out more about the COVID-19 Recovery Plan for Young People and addressing youth mental health here: yacvic.org.au/recovery
Young people affected by the COVID-19 pandemic are available for interviews. Katherine Ellis, YACVic CEO is also available for interviews. For media enquiries you can contact Thomas Feng, YACVic Media and Communications Manager on 0431 285 275.
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 the youth sector in Victoria. Established in 1960, YACVic advocates for the rights of young people in Victoria to ensure they are active, visible and valued in their communities.