MELBOURNE, Australia — They might not be able to vote, but children of Australia’s south-eastern state of Victoria are big targets in the 2021/22 state budget.
Through education, mental health, and the justice system, there is a pointed attempt at benefiting children, families, and women in this year’s financial plan.
Under the state’s mental health overhaul, prompted by the royal commission into the sector, about AU$842 million ($638 million) is being directed to support children and young people.
Two streams of care will be established, one for infants, children, and their families and another for people aged 12 to 25.
Among that support is nearly AU$310 million ($240 million) in localized services.
Three new localized infant, child, and family service hubs will be created, providing a one-stop-shop for mental health, overall health and development, and other services including pediatricians.
Five new youth prevention and recovery units for people aged 16 to 25 will also be created, totaling 50 beds.
The state government is continuing its schools’ building program, with another AU$492 million ($381 million) for 13 new schools, more funding to three schools already underway and AU$276.4 million ($214 million) for land in seven more growing localities.
The rollout of kindergarten places for three-year-olds is getting another AU$167.1 million ($129 million) to be operational in every community in 2022.
But the program will need another 4000 kinder teachers and 2000 early childhood teachers.
About $1.2 billion ($929 million) will be spent on extending child protection services.
Victoria will create a gender-responsive budgeting unit within the Treasury to measure and embed considerations for women in future budgets and money continues to be spent on stamping out family violence.
“Inequality for women feeds violence against women, which is why our investments target both,” Women Minister Gabrielle Williams said in a statement.
There is also cash for young people who come into contact with the justice system.
More than AU$165 million ($127 million) will be spent on services including family therapy support and treatment programs to get to the root of offending and more than AU$41.6 million ($32.2 million) to fund vocational education and training in the prison system.
The Victorian government has launched a number of initiatives aimed at increasing women’s outcomes, including expanded support for women’s health services, the development of 47,000 jobs in the care economy, funding for family conflict reduction, and funds to improve women’s economic participation.
The government has pledged AU$6.5 million ($5.03 million) for new and emerging sexual and reproductive health hubs, AU$70 million ($54 million) for public IVF programs, and almost AU$7 million ($5.4 million) for community perinatal health teams in the area of health.
(Edited by Vaibhav Vishwanath Pawar and Nikita Nikhil)
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