Overarching Themes

for the 2019 VCOSS Victorian Budget Submission.

The VCOSS vision for a fairer and more just Victoria is underpinned by 10 fundamental themes.

These themes cut across all policy areas, and all the reccomendations included in ‘Delivering Fairness’, 2019 VCOSS Victorian Budget Submission.

They should be considered fundamental in any policy responses to poverty and disadvantage in Victoria.



 Deliver a Treaty and Aboriginal self-determination

Transforming government means confronting our shared past: to plan for the future of all Victorians we must find a pathway forward to reconciliation with Victoria’s first peoples. Aboriginal Australians have long called for a Treaty, or treaties, between community and government as a pathway to entrenching self-determination. Aboriginal Victorians should decide the scope of a Treaty, potentially including sovereignty, rights, government relationships, service delivery and decision-making. It could also include education, Aboriginal guardianship, housing, economic empowerment and business development.


 Outline Victoria’s overarching social goals

Under a flagship strategy for Victorian social justice, different areas of government can develop leadership, oversight and coordination to work together in achieving social change. Victoria needs a clear future vision setting high aspirations through targets, timeframes and accountabilities. This will bring together different plans and ensure resources are working in the right places, reaching the right people, and rolled out in the right sequence.


 Achieve gender equality

Victoria can pursue cultural, structural and attitudinal change to achieve gender equality. This will require sustained effort and investment to erode gender stereotypes and develop public consciousness of the equal capabilities and value of women and men. By encouraging women’s participation in all levels of government, and supporting business and the community to dismantle barriers to equality, we can facilitate equal representation and life achievement, and change perceptions of women’s capabilities and leadership potential.


 Put people at the centre of services

People with lived experience, including of poverty, disability, family violence or homelessness, have knowledge and insight essential for governance systems, place-based approaches, and service design and delivery. Co-design “involves coming alongside people who experience vulnerabilities, to work with them in creating interventions, services and programs which will work in the context of their lives, and will reflect their own values and goals”.[1] Local co-design can use collaborative problem-solving to produce tailored service design and delivery suited to local needs.


 Focus on places, precincts and regions

Social and community services are most potent when they work as part of broader, collaborative action in local communities. Place-based approaches facilitate government, nongovernment, private sector and community collaboration to tackle local issues. By developing existing collaborations, and launching new ones, ideally in partnership with the Federal Government, Victoria can move toward to ‘one place, one plan’ structures, reflecting unique local community composition, enabling local networks to identify opportunities and linkages not visible to more distant and centralised agencies.


 Prevent harm before it occurs

The key to enhancing the lives of Victorians is to prevent health and social problems, rather than waiting for predictable problems to arise before acting. Across the Victorian Government, resources need to be directed to prevention and promotion activities. Prevention is cheaper and more effective and leads to people living happier, healthier and more productive lives.


 Intervene early to stop problems escalating

Identifying and acting on early warning signs of risk means crises can be avoided, and people can be supported to sustain stable, healthy lives. Early invention helps stops problems escalating and minimises harm, providing a safer, less damaging and more cost effective outcome.


 Take an equitable approach to climate change

Climate equity is an approach that recognises the inequities created by climate change. It looks at the inequities between places and people across the world. Climate change is a bigger threat to the people who are the least responsible for it. They are people who are already vulnerable to poverty, ill-health and other disadvantages. Conversely, the people who have contributed the most to climate change – typically wealthier, or in areas less at risk from climate change – are often better able to protect themselves from its impacts.[2]


 Plan to match services with population growth and change

Victoria has an opportunity to forecast and budget for local social and community services and infrastructure needs, as local communities grow and change differently in different places. Every local community needs a mix of local services that fit with its current size and need. This includes the right suite of community services, including childcare, neighbourhood houses, community health services, mental health services, disability services, children’s services and family violence services, among others.


 Pursue inclusive economic growth

To reduce economic inequality, Victoria can pursue inclusive growth, which ensures that the dividends of economic growth flow to those with the lowest incomes through stronger income support, more jobs and higher wages. This is fairer than the current economic growth trajectory, where most of the extra income generated by economic growth flows to people who already have high incomes and wealth.