Our response to 2024/25 Victorian State Budget: A promising chance for Victorians to move ahead together 

Tuesday, 7 May 2024

What the 2024/25 Victorian state budget means for migrant and refugee women:
A promising chance for Victorians to move ahead together 

Today the Victorian government demonstrated a promising investment into women’s health and wellbeing by dedicating $18.3m over two years for Women’s Health Services to continue their critical work keeping Victorian women healthy and continuing to move Victoria forward toward gender equity. This allocation includes $1.49m for the Multicultural Centre for Women’s Health (MCWH). 

This investment is welcome news for migrant and refugee women, gender diverse and non-binary people across Victoria, who will continue to have access to MCWH’s tailored, in-language health education and gender equity programs. They will also be able to continue to rely on MCWH to represent their interests and promote their wellbeing through evidence-based advocacy and policy input to government. As Victoria’s only migrant and refugee women’s health service, it is vital that MCWH’s services are adequately and sustainably funded. Through this investment, the Victorian government has demonstrated a commitment to taking gender equity seriously for all women. 

Women and girls born overseas in a main non-English speaking country (MNESC) make up 25.8% of Victoria’s female population. While they make a robust contribution to Victoria’s economic, social and civic life, there are many significant systemic barriers that prevent them from achieving optimum health and wellbeing, as well as safety and equity in the workplace and broader communities. 

MCWH’s budget submission to the Victorian government called for $5,917,458 to fund urgent health prevention and promotion programs for migrant and refugee women. The $1,490,000 of dedicated funding to MCWH for a two-year period is a positive step. However, there is more to be done to ensure that all Victorians can move ahead together. Migrant and refugee women need additional investments in the areas of mental health, sexual and reproductive health and workplace safety. Government budgets should also acknowledge that multicultural communities are important participants in the process of preventing gendered violence, and that funding is required to support the specialist expertise needed to get it right. It was disappointing to see that the Victorian Government’s Sick Pay Guarantee program, an important initiative that extended sick pay entitlements to casually employed workers, many of whom are migrant and refugee women, will come to an end. 

“While Victoria continues to lead the nation in measures for gender equality and in commitments to improving women’s health, many policies, services and investments still leave migrant and refugee women behind”, states Dr Adele Murdolo, MCWH’s CEO. “For Victoria to truly achieve gender equality and feel the benefits of gender equal investment, we must ensure that programs are accessible, equitable and tailored for the specific needs of migrant and refugee women.” 

It is clear that this budget has been delivered in a tight fiscal environment, but we hope that for future funding commitments and budgets, we see robust investment into the implementation of Our Equal State: Victoria’s Gender Equality Strategy. While the amount of $1.8m was allocated to deliver women’s leadership and mentorship programs, including for migrant and refugee women, there are many initiatives within the strategy that require targeted and sustainable funding. 

We look forward to continuing to work with the Victorian Government to deliver in these areas to ensure that gender equality, primary prevention and early intervention gendered violence programs are tailored for multicultural communities. Together we can continue their strength-based approach to multiculturalism which encourages all people who call Victoria home to actively contribute, to belong, to exercise their equal rights, and to access the health services they need.  

For all media inquiries:
Dr Adele Murdolo
CEO, Multicultural Centre for Women’s Health


Notes: Read the full budget submission here.