‘Local solutions’ needed to combat entrenched poverty and disadvantage

Article image - ‘Local solutions’ needed to combat entrenched poverty and disadvantage

Victoria’s peak social advocacy body, Victorian Council of Social Service (VCOSS), is sending every state MP, local council and community leader a blueprint to fight poverty and disadvantage in their backyard.

The blueprint is contained in the new VCOSS policy report, Communities Taking Power.

The report calls on entire local communities—including political leaders, business representatives, health officials, educators and everyday people—to jointly develop local solutions to seemingly intractable social challenges.

VCOSS CEO Emma King said, “The time for ‘one size fits all’ policy responses has long past.

“The needs of disadvantaged job seekers in Mildura are different to those in Melton, just as public transport challenges in Ballarat aren’t the same as in Bairnsdale.

“Victoria needs local solutions to local problems.

“Governments, businesses and community organisations must jointly adapt interventions, support and services to suit local circumstances.”

The report doesn’t tell communities what to do, it tells them how to do it, highlighting the frameworks and relationships needed for collaborative problem solving.

These include:

  • shared leadership
  • data sharing in communities
  • a focus on prevention
  • joint funding of local initiatives
  • support for local “economy building”

Ms King said some communities are already embracing place-based policymaking.

“The G21 Geelong Region Alliance and Go Goldfields, based in Maryborough, are both strong examples of communities working together to address social challenges.

"And the Victorian Government has also done excellent work through Regional Development Victoria to establish Regional Partnerships,” she said.

VCOSS is urging all community leaders to read and discuss the report together.

The report is available at: http://vcoss.org.au/media-release/localsolutions/