Vic Budget 2020-21: What it means for you and the economy

By Our Reporter
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Photo by Chronis Yan

Unprecedented. Tough. Unrelenting. There’s plenty of ways to put it – but 2020 has been a year like no other. As the state begins its recovery, there is a need for a Budget like no other too. The Victorian Budget 2020/21 delivers an unprecedented investment to rebuild our state – and make sure Victorians recover too.

“At the heart of that effort is getting Victorians back into work. The Andrews Labor Government’s Budget funds up to $49 billion in the things that matter to Victorians – and our economic recovery. Central to this investment is our Jobs Plan, which sets an ambitious goal: creating 400,000 jobs by 2025 – half of them by 2022,” says Premier Daniel Andrews in a press statement.

JOBS
A $619 million investment that will help those most impacted by the pandemic: women, young people and Victorians without a formal qualification, but plenty of experience. This includes $250 million to partner with employers to subsidise the wages of at least 10,000 new workers.

At least $150 million of that wage subsidy support will go towards employing women – and $50 million of that for women over the age of 45, recognising the additional barriers they face, both before and during the pandemic. Further funding will provide one-on-one support for those workers who need it most – whether that’s training advice, career counselling or even help to update their resume.

BIG HOUSING BUILD
A 5.3 billion for Victorians to have the security and stability of a home, delivering 12,000 new social and affordable homes. This investment will also help more Victorians into work, supporting around 10,000 new jobs on average each year over the next four years, with 25 per cent of investment dedicated to regional Victoria.

ENERGY
A further $1.6 billion investment in clean energy and energy efficiency to help power the state’s recovery. This includes establishing six new Renewable Energy Zones, dedicated areas to power our state – and create new jobs, particularly in regional Victoria. This also includes the Budget’s $797 million investment to help Victorians cover the cost of their power bills and make homes more energy efficient.

The Labor Government will deliver the $626 million Digital Future Now package, radically improving mobile coverage and broadband access in regional communities, while supporting businesses to grow and creating new jobs.

This includes $250 million to co-fund business‑grade broadband connectivity for suburbs and regional towns, $300 million to eradicate mobile black spots in populated areas, and $64 million for the Digital Skills and Jobs Program – putting Victorians looking for work at the centre of our digital future – with training, internships and opportunities for employment.

INFRASTRUCTURE INVESTMENT
This includes kicking off work on Stage One of the Suburban Rail Loop and delivering $2 billion for Geelong Fast Rail, supporting more than 2800 jobs at the peak of construction.

ARTS & CULTURE
More than $1.46 billion to transform Melbourne’s Arts Precinct –bringing visitors from interstate and overseas, creating thousands of Victorian jobs and giving families a new public place to enjoy and explore.

A further $220 million to support much-loved creative spaces, industries and workers, taking the total investment in Victoria’s creative life and recovery to a record $1.68 billion. This includes $34.7 million for regional creative infrastructure projects – backing regional galleries, boosting regional economies and providing more creative experiences for Victorians wherever they live.

SUPPORT FOR HEALTHCARE WORKERS
The Budget will deliver more than $5 billion and $9 billion over the next four years – including Commonwealth funding – for services and critical infrastructure that will help keep healthcare workers and loved ones safe. This includes a massive $300 million elective surgery blitz.

MENTAL HEALTH
$868.6 million to ensure Victorians have the mental health support they need as we get on with fixing a broken system.

This includes funding the rollout of the interim recommendations from the Royal Commission into Mental Health, including $492 million to deliver 120 mental health beds in Geelong, Epping, Sunshine and Melbourne. This is an addition to the 24 Hospital in the Home beds announced earlier this year, bringing the total to 144.

An additional $18.9 million is provided for 35 acute treatments beds for public mental health patients in private health services.

The Budget invests $21.4 million to support the statewide expansion of the Hospital Outreach Post-Suicidal Engagement (HOPE) service, with individual, intensive and one-on-one support for Victorians.

$19.4 million to support mental health clinicians at the Victorian Fixed Threat Assessment Centre and deliver specialised services to meet the needs of people referred by the Centre.

$4.4 million to improve culturally appropriate support for Aboriginal Victorians.

$3.9 million for providing mental health and wellbeing support for asylum seekers.

$152 million to support and provide mental health services in direct response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

DISABILITY
An unprecedented extra $1.9 billion to make sure Victorians with disability are supported.

A nearly $1.6 billion record investment will transform support for students with disability in Victorian government schools – doubling the number of students receiving extra support in the classroom to 55,000 – and is expected to create up to 1,730 jobs across the state by 2025.

All schools will benefit from the change, providing access to students who may have previously been ineligible for targeted support – such as those with autism, dyslexia or complex behaviours.

A world-leading pilot successfully run in more than 100 schools will now be rolled out across the state, providing an innovative approach to identify and respond to the needs of students with disability.

COMMUNITIES
More than $88 million investment for communities.

Recognising the vital role multicultural media plays in supporting and informing communities – particularly during the pandemic – the Budget provides $3 million in new grants that will boost their operations and increase their audience reach.

The Budget also delivers $2.2 million to ex-service organisations to help them continue providing welfare support to those that need it – particularly important assistance during the pandemic.

$1 million in funding for the LGBTIQ+ Community Grants program. Also includes $2 million for LGBTIQ+ organisations that have been hard hit by the pandemic, ensuring they can continue their work supporting LGBTIQ+ Victorians.

WOMEN
Women will be able to access the opportunities they deserve to train, develop and increase their economic security, all while worrying less about juggling it all at home. At least $150 million funding will go towards getting women back in work, of which $50 million is targeted support for women over 45, trying to remove the additional barriers they face.

$81.6 million to increase the availability of before and after school care – giving mums flexibility when it comes to work, study, training or re-entering the workforce.

$8.2 million for family violence and sexual assault support workforce, supporting the coordination of up to 240 traineeships. It also includes $9.7 million for women in migrant and multicultural communities to get the support they need, when they need it.

SPORTS & RECREATION
$110 million boost to the Community Sports Infrastructure Stimulus Program, which works with local councils and clubs to fast-track shovel-ready projects.

The Budget also includes $27 million to make sure our sports facilities are more accessible to more people.

TAX BREAK FOR BUSINESSES
$1.5 billion in new tax relief for Victorian businesses and families.

This builds on the existing support, with a total of more than $3.5 billion in tax and fees relief to Victorian workers, businesses and households to help them through the pandemic and recovery.

It includes the New Jobs Tax Credit, which supports those small and medium businesses that rehire staff, restore hours or create new jobs.

Under the plan, these businesses will get a tax credit of ten cents for every dollar it increases taxable Victorian wages – giving businesses the confidence they need to open their doors, hire more staff and re-emerge from the pandemic.

This incentive means the more these businesses re-hire staff and employ new workers, the less payroll tax they’ll have to pay. This emergency tax relief measure will be available for two years, saving businesses a combined $836 million and helping to support an estimated 9,400 people back into employment.

It’s on top of the more than $1 billion in payroll tax refunds and waivers the Labor Government has provided since the pandemic began.

(Media releases)

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