THE centrepiece of the 2017-18 Victorian budget is an unprecedented investment in services and programs that aim to end the scourge of family violence.
While a large investment was always on the cards, given the state’s promise to implement each of the recommendations from the Royal Commission into Family Violence, the figure and level of commitment is staggering. And sadly, necessary.
The state will spend $1.9 billion over four years to help implement some of the 227 recommendations, including $448.1 million to establish 17 support and safety hubs across Victoria.
Bendigo will not be among the first to launch a safety hub, but the Bendigo Advertiser understands it won’t be long before victim survivors and their children can access a central point in our city to link them to the support and services they need.
Bendigo also missed out on a specialist family violence court, but that too, could be short term – it’s almost certain the $3.9 million announced in yesterday’s budget to plan for new Bendigo law courts will factor in all the needs of a modern legal system.
Indeed, the planning money for a new court precinct is welcome news – an upgrade to our law courts, or the development of a new precinct, is long overdue. The current courts are outdated and unsafe. This money suggests the law courts will be the next major infrastructure project in our city.
The budget also delivered good news for some schools in our region, many of which were in dire need of cash injections for infrastructure works, and offered some security to the State Emergency Service after a major shakeup that replaces the former model where local councils provided about 50 per cent of SES funding.
There’s also planning money for a new “government hub” in Bendigo, but that funding is curious given treasurer Tim Pallas pledged $47.8 million to shift 600 jobs to Ballarat once construction of their new complex is complete in 2020.
We can only hope the planning money for a similar hub in Bendigo will lead to equal investment in our region in the near future.
While this budget largely fails to deliver any big ticket items for central Victoria, it perhaps sets the scene for what’s to come.
It’s a budget that is planning for big things. Big things that may well be announced next year – just a few months before the 2018 state election.
Nicole Ferrie, editor