Championing community sector potential

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Victoria’s community services industry is vibrant and mature with a proud history of supporting people facing poverty and disadvantage. It also contributes almost $15 billion to the Victorian economy every year. The community services industry is diverse and comprises around 4,700 organisations, ranging from extremely large state-wide and national services to very small, volunteer-run community organisations.

Over the next five years, the health and social assistance industry, in which community services is embedded, will be the fastest growing industry in the state, adding around 70,000 new jobs to the Victorian economy.

The Victorian Government has already offered much-needed recognition of the need to develop the Victorian Community Services Industry through its endorsement of the 10 Year Community Services Industry Plan and a range of industry transition plans for disability services, family violence, housing and homelessness, and family services. They have also funded the establishment of the VCOSS/RMIT Future Social Service Institute, along with the Jobs Victoria Community Traineeship Pilot Program and the Enhanced Pathways to Family Violence Project, to name a few significant investments.

The 2019–20 State Budget provided a number of measures to support the growth of the community services industry and builds on a range of other initiatives currently underway.


Positive Initiatives

Social services higher apprenticeships

VCOSS welcomes the Government’s commitment to develop ‘social service higher apprenticeships’ across the disability, aged care, family violence and mental health sectors. This will help support the major growth taking place in the Victorian community services industry.
Cost: (Part of) $5.6m in 2019-20


Free TAFE priority courses

Free TAFE for Priority Courses reduces financial barriers for students to train in courses that lead to jobs in demand from Victorian employers, including jobs in the community services industry.
Free TAFE courses are available for students wanting to work in the following areas:

  • Alcohol and Other Drugs
  • Ageing Support
  • Allied Health Assistance
  • Child, Youth and Family Intervention
  • Community Services
  • Disability
  • Education Support
  • Individual Support
  • Mental Health
  • Youth Work

Cost: $21.2m in 2019-20

TAFE will also be free for early childhood courses from 2020 to supporting the Government’s commitment to deliver universal access to three-year-old kindergarten.
Cost: $4.8m in 2019-20 ($28.4m/4 years) 


Disability worker registration scheme

Funding has been allocated in 2019/20 for the implementation of the Disability Worker Registration Scheme (a new scheme legislated through the Disability Services Safeguards Act which passed Victorian Parliament last year). This includes establishing a Disability Worker Registration Board and Disability Worker Commission. Ongoing funding will be required to deliver the Scheme once it has been established.
Cost: $9.5m in 2019/20


Family violence service delivery workforce

Funding continues to grow the family violence service delivery workforce and strengthen its capability, including practical placements for students.
Cost: $3.1m in 2019-20


Further Strategies

A number of further strategies that were not included in the 2019/20 budget could bring significant benefits for Victorians facing disadvantage. VCOSS will be advocating for these initiatives over the coming year, in the lead up to the 2020/21 Victorian Budget.


Deliver 10-year industry plan

The government can further support the rapid expansion of the community services industry by fully funding and implementing the first two years of the 10-year Community Services Industry Plan, which was jointly developed by VCOSS and DHHS.


Increase gender equality and address low wages and insecure work in the community services industry by increasing indexation for community services funding

Continued low pay and insecure work is the future of community services workers if the Government continues to inadequately fund community services. The Government needs to link community services indexation to the Minimum Wage Case as promised by Premier Daniel Andrews in 2018. Providing a sound indexation formula will help keep community service organisations healthy and able to meet rising costs.


Guarantee long-term funding for more effective services

Long-term funding means that community organisations can keep and develop stable, skilled workforces and deliver continuously improving quality services. The Government can adopt the Productivity Commission’s recommendation to provide funding for a seven year period.