Victoria finds itself at a historic crossroads.
We have a choice: do we shrug off the worst of the COVID pandemic and return to ‘business as usual’, or do we genuinely learn from the past 18 months and forge a new, fairer path forward?
There’s a recurring theme throughout this submission that must not be ignored.
Whether it’s in sections discussing housing, gender equality, education or some other element of social policy, this central point remains constant: things weren’t great before COVID, and COVID only made things worse. And where positive measures were taken in rapid response to COVID, these were often temporary or highly targeted.
COVID exposed all our society’s cracks and flaws. In a narrow medical sense, the virus spread the same way wherever it travelled.
But we know it inflicted disproportionately more pain on specific groups of people: those without secure housing, those without adequate income, those without sick leave entitlements, those without the refuge of a safe home. Those without.
History tells us this will happen again. It will happen during the next recession, after the next natural disaster and amid the next great technological leap. People will be left behind.
Unless we decided not to allow this.
Unless we adopt bold policies and make a conscious choice to rebuild our state stronger and fairer than before.
Unless we embrace the concept of wellbeing as our driving force, and invest now to make it a reality for all people and all communities.
This submission broadly makes two types of recommendations ahead of the 2022 Victorian Budget:
- Short-term measures to immediately help people — and the frontline services that support them — to recover from the worst of COVID, and
- Long-term measures to address systemic challenges and entrenched disadvantage, and allow us to build back better.
Both approaches must be embraced for Victoria’s post-COVID recovery to be inclusive and comprehensive. Taken together, these approaches will ensure we grasp the opportunity for big, meaningful reform, while also repairing the damage caused by COVID.
We urge the Victorian Government to embrace this bold and positive vision for our state.
The 2022 Victorian Budget is an opportunity for us to lead the nation on social and economic wellbeing. Let’s not waste a minute.