More needed to build Victoria’s human infrastructure: Budget 2014-15

6 May 2014

The State Budget will come as a great disappointment to the more than 80,000 Victorian families who have one of their young members unemployed, according to the welfare agency the Brotherhood of St Laurence.

As the population ages and the proportion of people of workforce age declines, investing in Victoria’s youth – the state’s future human capital – is as important as investing in physical infrastructure projects, the Brotherhood said.

"We need to directly invest in developing the potential of our young people as much rail links, road extensions and ports," warned Brotherhood of St Laurence Executive Director Tony Nicholson.

"Despite accelerating youth unemployment, this Budget does virtually nothing to increase the skills and work experience of our young people to prepare them to take up opportunities that the economy may have to offer.

"The Brotherhood of St Laurence believes that to ensure the state's long-term success there is an urgent need for Victoria to significantly invest in developing its human capital, Mr Nicholson said. This is especially so when it comes to its disadvantaged youth, he said.

"Brotherhood of St Laurence research shows that of the 81,900 unemployed youth in Victoria, some 14,000 can now be classified as long term unemployed – an increase of 52 per cent in the number of young long-term unemployed in the last year alone. "And our service experience tells us these problems are exacerbated in the Melbourne’s fast growing outer suburbs and key regional cities and towns," Mr Nicholson said.

Mr Nicholson added: "As the Victorian economy continues to shift to a mainly knowledge and service base, and as the population greys, we cannot afford to have large numbers of our youth without the personal capacities to take part in the mainstream economic and social life of the state."

"Social policy must be woven with economic policy and understood as vital to the delivery of Victoria’s economic goals – and this Budget falls well short of this aim."