Equal access to local services needed for all Victorians
In the lead up to the November state election, the Municipal Association of Victoria (MAV) is calling on political parties and candidates to commit to election policies that ensure communities have equal access to local services regardless of where they live.
Cr Mary Lalios, MAV President said there was a worrying gap in both growth and rural areas between those who can access local services - such as aged care and family services – and those who cannot.
“We need to provide fair and equal access to services for all Victorians, and ensure there is extra support to address the needs of our most vulnerable community members.
“More targeted investment is needed in areas of disadvantage to ensure access to services such as public and social housing, aged care and universal kindergarten programs.
“Aged and disability care programs are being transferred to the Commonwealth, which is placing at risk the long-term State-local government partnership that ensures high quality public service options.
“The absence of alternative providers for disability and home care services in some growth and rural communities could seriously disadvantage the needs of vulnerable clients,” she said.
“Victoria has also experienced rapid population growth and technological change. Digital innovations are allowing governments to improve how and where essential community services are delivered in more cost effective ways. However, it remains a challenge to ensure no communities are left behind.”
Cr Lalios said the latest State of the Regions national report published this month confirmed that innovation would be the core driver of long-term economic growth.
“Struggling rural areas cannot compete for knowledge workers and businesses when they don’t have the budgets to ensure the wide variety of cultural, lifestyle and infrastructure needs to attract and grow their knowledge economies.
“Local government wants to work with all political parties to put in place digital business transformation partnerships that meet community expectations. Rural councils also need support to undertake reforms that ensure they can more efficiently deliver sustainable local services to communities.
“Transport, cultural and community infrastructure are particularly important to help attract knowledge workers and their families to rural areas.
“However, rate capping has caused some councils to opt out of discretionary community services and invest less into the maintenance and renewal of ageing roads, infrastructure and facilities. Small shires with low populations simply don’t have the budget available.
“The long-term cost of under-investing in capital works is high. Huge repair and renewal costs for Victoria’s $92 billion in local infrastructure will ultimately fall to future ratepayers or State governments.
“The State rate cap requires flexibility within the model to reflect the different revenue raising capacities of councils, and different input costs to deliver local services so that no community gets left behind,” she said.
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Contact Cr Mary Lalios on 0447 189 409 or MAV Communications on 9667 5547.