Elections are a time for reflecting on what kind of society we want to live in. Drawing on our 45 years of advocacy and action, Jesuit Social Services’ Victorian Election Platform 2022 calls for resources, policies, practices and ideas across a range of interconnected policy areas to continue driving a social change agenda for the state – where all Victorians have access to the opportunities they need to thrive.
The current Government has undertaken a range of important reforms that work towards increasing equity, reducing disadvantage and helping Victorians reach their full potential. While these reforms act as the foundation for social change, there is more that needs to be done.
Many people in Victoria continue to experience significant and persistent disadvantage, including disengagement from education, unemployment, homelessness, contact with the justice system, family violence and mental illness. Over recent years, we have seen COVID-19 and the climate crisis disproportionately impact marginalised people and communities, and exacerbate social inequalities.
There has never been a more important time to continue to push a social reform agenda, provide equitable services and to stand alongside people on the margins. This election is pivotal to progressing the gains we have made so far. It gives us a chance to call on our political leaders to be accountable and to commit to policies, practices and investments that create inclusion and opportunity for all Victorians.
Summary of our recommendations
Our key recommendations for the incoming Victorian Government are to:
- IDENTIFY locations of complex disadvantage through Dropping off the Edge research and develop long-term, place-based and systemic approaches that centre community decision-making and address factors that lead to inequity and disadvantage.
- RAISE the age of criminal responsibility from 10 to 14 years and partner with key stakeholders to develop a therapeutic response for this age group.
- EMBED restorative justice practices across the Victorian adult justice system, including making group conferencing available to adults.
- HELP more people facing barriers to employment by continuing both the Jobs Victoria Employment Service and Jobs Victoria Advocates Program.
- BUILD at least 60,000 public and community homes available by 2032, with linked support and strengthen protections.
- DRAW on our Modelling Respect and Equality program and Unpacking the Man Box workshops to build workforce capacity for role models who work with men and boys in settings such as schools, youth justice facilities, prisons and community health services, to prevent the use of violence.
- PROVIDE secure, long-term funding for state-wide suicide prevention and bereavement services, including our Support After Suicide program.
- STRENGTHEN the interface between the NDIS and state-based services to ensure that issues experienced by people with multiple and complex needs are addressed in congruence.
- IMPROVE culturally safe access to the service system for newly arrived people, particularly for education, mental health, alcohol and other drugs and family violence.