Our response to the Victorian Budget 2021-2022

20 May 2021
Man moves into a new home with his dog

Sacred Heart Mission congratulates the Victorian Government’s budget for committing funds to bolster proven homelessness interventions and for it’s record investment in mental health services.

This year, the Budget is providing a further $324 million over four years towards ten initiatives that intervene early and direct effort away from acute services.*

One of those initiatives is Sacred Heart Mission’s innovative Journey to Social Inclusion (J2SI) program.

At Sacred Heart Mission, we know with the right support, people who have experienced chronic homelessness and disadvantage can maintain stable housing, minimise their use of acute services and create positive change in their lives by gaining training and employment and establishing stronger social connections. Our Journey to Social Inclusion (J2SI) program does just that.

“This investment by the Victorian Government is a resounding endorsement of our J2SI program and means we will have the capacity to work with another 120 people over the next three years,” says Cathy Humphrey, CEO of Sacred Heart Mission.

Within the Budget Papers, the Government has recognised the results from the first outcomes measurement of the current J2SI program – 92.9% of program participants are in stable housing, and hospital bed use has been reduced by 62%, avoiding significant costs to the community.

To support the ten initiatives, the government is developing an Early Intervention Investment Framework to ensure these programs are successful – Sacred Heart Mission looks forward to supporting this approach.

The Budget’s Rough Sleeper Action Plan Initiative includes the extension of funding for Supportive Housing Programs and outreach teams including our GreenLight program. Delivered through a partnership between The Salvation Army, VincentCare and Sacred Heart Mission, GreenLight provides support for people to sustain their tenancies and stay out of homelessness.

The Royal Commission into Victoria’s Mental Health System’s recommendations highlighted the importance of stable housing as a core component of mental health care. This is also reflected in this year’s Budget, which allocated funding for 2,000 supported housing places for people with serious mental illness. The Budget includes $46 million of wraparound mental health support for Victorians in these homes.

“In our submission to the Royal Commission, we highlighted the importance of tailored support, alongside social housing, for people experiencing mental illness. This Budget provides mammoth investment into acute mental health services that are desperately needed to ensure people don’t fall through service gaps into homelessness,” says Cathy.

Sacred Heart Mission also welcomes the range of investments into preventative mental health services for children and young people, as well as adults and older adults around Victoria.

Key initiatives that will benefit vulnerable Victorians experiencing homelessness and disadvantage include:

Housing & Homelessness

  • $194 million for services that prevent homelessness, focusing on people who need help in the rental market, young people leaving care and vulnerable Victorians with complex needs.
  • $26 million to better target early intervention for rough sleepers – essential to prevent people falling into chronic homelessness, by supporting people with housing, training, employment and improving social connections – all of which reduce pressure on other acute services such as hospitals and police.
  • $17 million to help the Victorians housed in hotels during the pandemic continue to find permanent accommodation.
  • Continuation of the Private Rental Assistance Program, that supports more than 7,000 households annually to establish or maintain private rental tenancies
  • Expanding housing pathways for people exiting prison, ro prevent them from becoming homeless upon prison release.

Mental Health

  • $954 million to establish 22 reformed area mental health and wellbeing services for adults and older adults with more complex needs, providing support in the community, to deliver community-based care, providing health and wellbeing support for Victorians wherever they live.
  • $370 million to improve access to mental health beds and better acute care for Victorians living with mental illness.
  • $264 million for 20 new local mental health and wellbeing services for adults and older adults – ensuring that people have access to timely and local treatment and support in the community, before they reach a crisis point or require hospital services.
  • $71.2 million to strengthen the system through initiatives, such as a Mental Health and Wellbeing Outcomes Framework and a new Mental Health and Wellbeing Commission, to improve collection and monitoring of information, accountability of outcomes support the promotion of good mental health and wellbeing for Victorians.

Family Violence

  • An additional $354 million is provided to support victim survivors and address family violence. This includes support for enhanced family violence information sharing and risk assessment, establishing specialist family violence courts, responding to demand for sexual assault services in adults and young people and delivery of specialist interventions targeted at perpetrators.

*(see 2021-2022 Strategy and Outlook, Budget Paper 2, p. 52)