The Andrews Labor Government has let down LGBTIQ+ Victorians by slashing funding to LGBTIQ+ and Equality programs by nearly $2 million.
It follows a horrific year of business shutdowns and cancelled events due to COVID-19.
In Public Accounts and Estimates Committee (PAEC) hearings, Minister for Equality Martin Foley confirmed a 24.9 per cent cut to LGBTIQ+ and Equality programs, from a budgeted $7.6 million last financial year to just $5.7 million this financial year.
Labor will be spending 40 per cent less than the last financial year but has failed to explain why.
These budget cuts dig even deeper when compared to last year’s actual spending on LGBTIQ+ programs.
While $9.3 million was spent last year, this year Labor has only allocated $5.7 million, a 40 per cent decrease.
In the Parliamentary hearings, the Minister admitted there was only “small support” for LGBTIQ+ programs for this financial year, and that the COVID-19 economic recovery grants that had been funded last year would not be funded this year.
Despite the continuing impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, Labor today confirmed there would be no additional economic grants to support the LGBTIQ+ community to recover from Victoria’s recent fourth lockdown or the Valentine’s Day lockdown earlier this year.
Comments attributable to Shadow Minister for Equality, Bridget Vallence:
“The LGBTIQ+ community did it extremely tough during Victoria’s four lockdowns, with many businesses forced shut and high-profile events being cancelled.
“So it’s concerning to see a continuing trend in cuts to LGBTIQ+ and Equality programs under the Andrews Labor Government.
“Despite the continuing impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, Labor confirmed there would be no additional economic grants to support the LGBTIQ+ community to recover from Victoria’s fourth lockdown or the Valentine’s Day lockdown earlier this year.
“I’m calling on the Labor Government to explain why it’s slashed funding to LGBTIQ+ and Equality programs by nearly $2 million – a 25 per cent cut – in this year’s State Budget.
“This is the worst possible time to be cutting the budget for LGBTIQ+ and Equality programs. We should instead be supporting Victorians to get back on their feet, help keep their businesses open, and put on job-generating and culturally significant events.”