As the state emerged from the long winter lockdown, Victorian Treasurer Tim Pallas presented the belated budget. The emphasis was on job creation and targeted spending to assist economic, social and mental health recovery from the effects of COVID-19. This included the biggest boost to social and affordable housing in Australian history.
This time last year, we developed a pre-budget submission – entitled Bidding for Older Victorians – in anticipation of the May 2020 Budget. We asked the government to increase investment in services and infrastructure to help Victorians age well through:
- creating a liveable, connected community for everyone
- supporting mature-aged workers to find and retain employment
- ensuring public and community transport meet the needs of older users
- strengthening elder abuse prevention and response
- making information and services accessible to everyone
- supporting older Victorians to plan for retirement.
We developed our pre-budget requests before the pandemic. Although it is clear that Coronavirus has impacted all age groups in many ways, it has had particularly distressing consequences for older people. There’s no doubt that this has dramatically changed government spending priorities.
Some of the budget initiatives came into effect earlier in the year, such as funding to counter isolation and assist with the information and mental health needs of older people. Recent announcements include subsidies for employment of women with an emphasis on those over 45. There will also be a one-off $250 Power Saving Bonus for households that have at least one JobSeeker, Youth Allowance recipient or pensioner.
We have made a report card to identify which of our previous bids are still on the table and in some cases even more relevant than 12 months ago. Hopefully, the next budget will be developed under less tumultuous circumstances. We look forward to seeing more support for older people to be digitally connected especially given the increase in online services. As well as more community transport and the extension of work on perpetrators to include those committing elder abuse as a form of family violence.