Bold state budget focuses on restoring services
The Victorian Government’s has recognised the importance of cultural diversity and social cohesion in its 2015/16 state budget.
In its first budget, the Andrews government has allocated $74 million over four years to multicultural affairs – an increase of around 20 per cent.
In a new initiative, $25 million in new money has been set aside to help reinforce Victoria’s social cohesion.
Used effectively, this money could help people new to Victoria build connection with their communities; prevent radicalisation and extremism while supporting vulnerable people in our community to make good life choices.
There is also more than $13 million earmarked to enhance community capacity and participation for people from culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) backgrounds.
And $2 million in new spending has been allocated to support women and children from CALD communities who are the victims of, or are vulnerable to, family violence.
The budget also included a commitment to creating jobs and delivering vocational training.
The state government’s has committed to creating 100,000 jobs backed by a $100 million Back to Work Scheme will help those most at risk from long-term unemployment.
More generally, the budget will provide a $3.9 billion boost to education, and extra $2.5 billion for hospitals and billions more over the coming years for roads and public transport infrastructure.
The government has vowed to produce financial surpluses over the next four years but has restored funding to services cut by the previous government.
In a budget touted as ‘for families’ and ‘getting on with it’, spending will increase three per cent over the next four years.
The government has set aside more $2 billion to upgrade 20 level crossings – funded by the sale of the Port of Melbourne.
More than $1.5 billion has been earmarked to begin work on the vast Metro Rail Project.
The budget has been welcomed by the education, health and community sector but critics say the spending is predicated on optimistic tax receipt predictions – largely underpinned by Melbourne’s booming property market.
AMES Staff Writer