Western Victoria's first Greens MP says social spending should be top of the state budget agenda as south-west residents struggle with cost of living pressures.
Sarah Mansfield said people in Warrnambool and the south-west were struggling to make ends meet and the budget needed to "lift our communities out of hardship".
"The Victorian Labor Government can put people first in this budget - by making big banks and corporations pay their fair share of tax and using this revenue to help everyone in our region live good lives," Dr Mansfield said.
She said housing was an important place to start.
The government has put nearly $30 million into social housing in Warrnambool through its Big Housing Build program, and several million more through the south-west for key worker housing.
But the latest data showed it was as hard as ever to find a place to live, with PropTrack statistics finding less than 30 per cent of houses for rent in regional Victoria listed for under $400. In 2020 the figure was 72 per cent.
Dr Mansfield said there were questions about whether the Big Housing Build was "delivering on the promises it made, which weren't adequate anyway".
"Right now the wait list for social housing in Warrnambool is continuing to grow, with almost half the renters in Wannon struggling to pay rent. For many people, they might be one rent increase away from homelessness and this is simply not good enough," she said.
"The Greens are demanding the State Government start cleaning up our housing crisis with sustained investment and prioritisation of affordable housing, and a commitment to build 100,000 public houses across Victoria."
Dr Mansfield said healthcare access was another area where people in the south-west were struggling more than people in Melbourne.
"In Dec 2022, the average wait time for public dental services on the South West Coast was 33. 5 months for general dental care. The longest wait time was 58 months - this is unacceptable," she said.
"It's somehow acceptable that someone can be forced to go around for three or four months with no front teeth. That's not just an aesthetic issue, it affects people's ability to eat and speak, let along the stigma associated with it."
Dr Mansfield said the budget needed to plunge more funding into providing "more free GPs, dentists and psychologists" to ensure real access for everyone. She said more needed to be spent on community health, rather than just building new hospitals.
"We do need big hospitals, which play an important role in our health sector, but we can't just keep building new hospitals to deal with the barriers to accessing health care," she said.
"It's not where most health care does, or needs to, take place, and you get a lot more bang for your buck in community health.
"It's an investment in the long term health and well being of the community."
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