The Victorian Government’s 2021-22 Mid-Year Budget update, released on 14 December 2021 has $62.9million for digital projects under the COVID-19 ‘Capability and Response’ umbrella.
The Mid-Year review forecasts a projected operating deficit of $19.5 billion. This is considerably higher than the originally forecast $7.9 billion. The higher-than-expected deficit is attributed to the additional spending by the government in response to the Delta variant of COVID 19.
Victoria’s response to COVID-19 has heavily influenced the funding allocated to digital projects in the Mid-Year Budget. The funding is in line with the theme of “future-proofing” technology solutions outlined in the Victorian Government’s Digital Strategy 2021-2026.
Projects outlined in the Mid-Year update include:
- Developing a COVID-19 digital vaccination certificate capability linked to QR code check-in systems and other response technologies.
- Increasing the functionality of Service Victoria’s QR code system to expand coverage, deliver bulk QR check-ins, and ensure real-time data continues to be delivered by the contact tracing system.
- Supporting businesses to comply with COVIDSafe practices including QR code check-ins and electronic record keeping requirements.
The additional funding suggests that digital initiatives will not be a primary target for budget cuts in 2022-23 despite the fact that Victoria will need to free up funding for infrastructure programs and decrease its deficit in the lead up to the November 2022 election.
The Mid-Year update also included the following funding:
- $19m for an extension to the Digital Twin pilot program which received funding in the 2020-21 Budget. The Digital Twin project aims to increase efficiencies in planning, construction and infrastructure initiatives, as well as service delivery.
- $29m for mental health which includes funding to increase the capacity of helplines and digital connections that support early interventions for vulnerable Victorians.
- $27m to the Emergency Services Telecommunication Authority to manage peak periods and COVID-19-related demand on call-taking and dispatch services.