Victorian Budget 2021-22: Tenants Victoria’s reaction

Media release: 20 May 2021

Mental health investment welcomed

Considerable demand for Tenants Victoria’s services

The ongoing COVID19 pandemic has shone a harsh light on the tenuous nature of renting as tenants in our state deal with the fallout from no less three public health lockdowns.

Since March 2020, renters have been over-represented among those experiencing housing stress in our state.

“The pandemic has highlighted the vital role that having a safe and secure home plays in each of us being healthy and thriving. The interconnections between our home, our health, our wellbeing is now clear,” said Tenants Victoria CEO Jennifer Beveridge.

“In this context, as the peak body for renters we embrace the Victorian Government’s record $3.8 billion mental-health investment announced in this Budget by Treasurer Tim Pallas and acting Premier James Merlino. Beyond crisis responses, this is an expression of the type of long-term social infrastructure we need to build social and human capital in our state.

“As Treasurer Pallas noted, the last budget also revealed funding for more than 9000 social housing homes over four years, of which 2000 were for those living with mental illness. The addition of wellbeing supports – ‘wraparound’ services – revealed in this Budget is a welcome enhancement,” Ms Beveridge said.

Renters remain under pressure

“However, the end of the federal JobKeeper payment and reductions in JobSeeker, alongside the end of the State Government’s pandemic rental support program, remain as pressure points in our community for many renters. We look forward to continuing our constructive discussions with Ministers Richard Wynne and Melissa Horne on framing solutions to this challenge over the next period,” Ms Beveridge said.

“The demand for Tenants Victoria’s services will continue to be high – there is already considerable unmet demand – and we will work to find innovative ways to meet this intense need from Victorian renters.”

Ms Beveridge also acknowledged continued funding in the Budget for community legal centres that provide vital frontline support, including for tenancy services, a boost for online services at VCAT, and for housing and homeless initiatives that include:

  • The continuation of the Private Rental Assistance Program, providing support to more than 7000 households annually in establishing and maintaining a private rental tenancy, and the expansion of the Aboriginal Private Rental Assistance Program.
  • Expansion of housing pathways for people leaving prisons to prevent them becoming homeless.
  • $47 million to be delivered for the Homelessness Rough Sleeping Action Plan, including funding for outreach teams in Geelong, Frankston, Dandenong and regional Victoria to get people into stable housing.
  • Support for initiatives at the North Melbourne and Flemington public housing estates that were hard hit during challenging pandemic lockdowns.
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