Victorian state budget 2021-22 and a new financial year

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The new financial year starts with a Victorian State Budget (2021-22) that includes the largest investment in Aboriginal community in Victoria’s history.

A total of $448 million is invested in Aboriginal communities and state-wide healing, which is a significant increase from the $357 million allocated last year.

Released on 20 May 2021, the Budget made a priority of many existing critical needs across every aspect of life for Aboriginal Victorians, while ensuring that care for Aboriginal people is led by Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisations (ACCOs), like VACCA.

Health and wellbeing with a focus on mental health and suicide prevention featured, in response to the Royal Commission into Victoria’s mental health system, though most funding remains in mainstream tertiary mental health systems not Aboriginal hands.

As did Child and family supports and out-of-home care investments ($31.5m) for at-risk Aboriginal families which will help to increase the number of Aboriginal children to be supported by ACCOs.

VACCA also applauds the Budget’s commitment to truth and justice for Aboriginal Victorians.

Investment (over $58m) has been allocated for Australia’s first-ever truth-telling process, the
Yoo-rrook Justice Commission, which will redress historic wrongs and address continued injustices. Yoo-rrook is an Australian-first initiative.

Preventing and reducing the over-representation of Aboriginal young people in the youth justice system is an area in which ACCOs are committed to find Aboriginal- and community-led solutions.  As thirty years have passed since 339 recommendations were tabled by the Royal Commission into Aboriginal deaths in custody, the Budget commitment ($10.9m in 2021, from a total of $31.2m over four years) to resourcing services that include after-hours family violence support and regional egal assistance for Aboriginal communities is long overdue

The Budget is investing ($16.9m) in continued roll-out of Victoria’s nation-leading treaty process, and demonstrates the State Government’s commitment to self-determination.

VACCA is also pleased to see the National Agreement on Closing the Gap and self-determination initiatives as a priority within this State Budget, and a significant proportion (almost $19m) has been identified for Aboriginal organisations. VACCA looks forward to seeing this decisive investment reach ACCOs and Aboriginal community members to continue this important work.   

“The Budget is welcomed for the investment in many areas of need, including mental health and suicide prevention. Supporting our youth in justice, education and heritage is also important, because we know that Aboriginal children and young people grow-up strong in culture, supported by their kin and community,” said Muriel Bamblett, VACCA CEO.

“VACCA applauds news of investment to continue the transfer of case management of Aboriginal child protection and out-of-home care services to ACCOs. Recognition of the importance of place-based, Aboriginal-led solutions tailored to meet the real needs of the community is a positive step.

“The Budget takes a definitive step towards dealing with crisis need in the youth justice system and housing solutions. But there is much more to be done. The biggest issue remains a lack of investment in prevention and early intervention for Aboriginal children.

“This is key to healing, and addresses the impacts of trauma to support positive social and emotional wellbeing, which is a cornerstone to building a healthier, stronger community,” she said.

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