Vic budget measures will need council collaboration

Victoria’s local government sector has welcomed measures to support local communities in the state budget, but says collaboration with councils is needed to deliver them.

David Clark

“The 24-25 Victorian budget … serves as reminder of just how critical it is for the state government to work collaboratively with councils to successfully implement its agenda,” the President of the Municipal Association of Victoria David Clark said in a statement.

The budget contains funding for maternal and child health services, early education, measures to prevent violence against women and local roads.

MAV says it’s pleased to see a more gradual rollout of the Best Start, Best Life program signalled in the budget, as the size and speed of the early childhood education reforms have previously created infrastructure and workforce challenges for councils.

The state government had promised to provide 15 hours of free kindergarten for three and four year olds, but on Tuesday Treasurer Tim Pallas said the rollout would occur by 2036 rather than 2032, with the mental health hubs also occurring at a slower pace.

“Our Best Start, Best Life reforms are transforming early childhood with free kinder, increased hours and government-owned childcare,” Mr Pallas said.

“But with sustained low unemployment continuing to impact our workforce capacity, we’re going to roll these reforms out a bit more gradually, ensuring we give the workforce time to build up and skill up.

“We’re taking a similar approach with the rollout of our Mental Health and Wellbeing Locals.”

MAV says it remains fully committed to the reforms, but a more ‘measured’ approach is in the best interests of all.

The peak meanwhile has welcomed two more years of funding to boost the participation of CALD children in kindergartens, and a further $211 million for women’s safety.

“Councils are  already demonstrating vital leadership as partners in the prevention of violence against women,” Cr Clark says. 

MAV is also giving a thumbs up to two more years of funding for school crossing supervisors and an extra $28 million to boost the nursing workforce, which will bolster local government maternal and child health services.

MAV says the budget has acknowledged financial sustainability challenges facing councils by highlighting the 22 per cent increase in infrastructure costs,  and councils are pleased to see the commitment to the 10-year roads program, with $964m to be contributed in this year’s budget.

However the government got a black mark for cutting the Growing Suburbs Fund and neglecting climate change and resilient infrastructure.

“Are we preparing to adapt to a changing climate?” MAV says. “Particularly on resilient infrastructure, with no announcement for things like Betterment funding.”   

Comment below to have your say on this story.

If you have a news story or tip-off, get in touch at  

Sign up to the Government News newsletter

Leave a comment:

Your email address will not be published. All fields are required