June 2023

Towards economic equity: insights from the Victorian Government’s place-based approach to improving economic inclusion

In Australia, not everyone benefits equally from the economic system. Economic inequality arises from various systemic factors like access to housing, transportation, childcare, and current hiring practices. These create barriers for individuals or groups, preventing them from fully participating in and benefiting from the economy. Some communities across Australia are facing persistent unemployment, underemployment, and economic exclusion. 

The Victorian Government’s Department of Jobs Skills Industries and Regions recognised that Government investment in places can better align with local community needs by taking a place-based approach that puts the community at the centre. By supporting local collaboration across sectors and with communities, we can shift the dial on the root causes of exclusion. The Community Revitalisation (CR) initiative, funded until June 2025, lies at the heart of this approach. 

Operating in seven Victorian communities that experience complex barriers to economic participation,CR places communities and their needs at the forefront of decision-making processes. This community-led approach acknowledges that residents and organisations possess valuable insights and knowledge about the challenges and aspirations of their community.

Sandra George, Manager of the South East Business Network in Dandenong, captures the essence of CR’s impact, stating,” CR has given us the belief that we actually can do this… that we do have the means to change the system.” Sandra’s statement reflects the sense of empowerment and renewed optimism that the initiative has brought to the communities involved.

The CR initiative is built on three key principles: community-led, collaboration, and evidence informed and data-driven. 

Firstly, CR is community-led, allowing local people and organisations to make decisions that align with their specific context. By involving a diverse cross-section of community members, including employers and individuals experiencing economic exclusion, CR ensures that governance and implementation reflect the needs and priorities of each community.

Collaboration lies at the heart of the CR approach. Recognising that effective change requires a collective effort, the initiative fosters collaboration between individuals and organisations within the local jobs and skills system. By leveraging existing activities, strengths, relationships, and resources, CR maximises the impact of local initiatives and strengthens the overall ecosystem of support.

Another critical principle is that CR is evidence-informed and data-driven. Local stakeholders gather evidence and insights, enabling them to build a shared understanding of the systemic drivers that contribute to economic exclusion, and make informed decisions based on local realities. By facilitating learning among stakeholders and sharing lessons with other systemic efforts, CR contributes to a broader understanding of effective approaches to economic inclusion.

Collaboration for Impact (CFI) plays a crucial role in supporting the DJSIR and communities involved in the CR initiative. CFI helps strengthen systems-change approaches and embeds the necessary relationships, structures, and ways of working for sustainable social and economic inclusion. Through this partnership, CFI enhances the collective impact of the initiative and amplifies its reach and effectiveness.

The Victorian Government’s place-based approach to improving economic inclusion offers valuable insights for addressing economic inequities across Australia. By prioritising community involvement, fostering collaboration, and leveraging evidence, the CR initiative demonstrates that meaningful change is possible. As the CR initiative continues its transformative work, it paves the way for a fairer and more inclusive economic system.

Co-authored by the Inclusive Places team and Collaboration for Impact.

Back to all