The community sector is a vital contributor to Victoria’s economic and social wellbeing. Through a combination of government and private sector funding, volunteer work, and fundraising and philanthropic support, the sector provides a vast and essential network of frontline services to our community’s most vulnerable and disadvantaged members.
The diverse range of services include disability support, kindergarten programs, supported accommodation, children and family services, mental health services, the provision of affordable housing, and employment training programs. Providing these services protects many individuals and communities from harm, enhances civic participation, combats social exclusion and provides a sense of belonging for many vulnerable Victorians. They contribute in a vital way to ensuring Victoria maintains its competitive position by ensuring higher workforce participation, and a healthier and more productive workforce. Importantly, they are services that continue to be delivered both efficiently and successfully.
In 2010, the Productivity Commission reported that the community sector had grown rapidly over the previous eight years, meeting demand from an ageing population, early retirements, and growing ethnic diversity as contributing factors. These demands have been compounded by the global economic downturn and its worsening impact on the Victorian economy. The impact of unemployment and job uncertainty, along with associated financial stress and mental health concerns, means more clients are presenting with more complex problems and therefore requiring multi-faceted assistance.