Sector Portrait Colour SmallThe Victorian State Election is taking place in November 2022. Neighbourhood Houses Victoria, along with its members, are advocating for a fair, permanent increase to NHCP funding, with almost half of the sector experiencing the threat of funding cuts in two years time - including the Ballarat East Neighbourhood House. 

 

What we want

End the uncertainty and insecurity.The incoming State Government must commit to making currently non-recurring funding – worth $5.45 million a year – a permanent part of Neighbourhood House Coordination Program (NHCP) funding.

What's at risk?

If this funding is not made permanent, following June 2024, 210 Neighbourhood Houses and Networks are at risk of defunding or funding cuts. More specifically, it could result in:

  • the closure of up to 27 Neighbourhood Houses including the Ballarat East Neighbourhood House, four Aboriginal run Neighbourhood Houses and 12 in rural Victoria;
  • the reduction of over 77,000 hours annually of paid employment almost entirely affecting women;
  • the loss of 154,000 hours of Neighbourhood House activity annually impacting 189 communities'

Basically, in just two years, we could see a dramatic cut to local support services and community development, and significant job losses across our sector.

Coverage in Ballarat

Thanks to ABC Ballarat Reporter, Lexie Jeuniewic, for covering this important issue for the Ballarat East Neighbourhood House on Thursday 11 August 2022:
 
 

Why is the current situation unfair?

By choosing to extend this relatively small funding package every couple of years, rather than permanently securing it for the sector, the State Government is creating unnecessary anxiety and uncertainty for the staff and voluntary committees that operate these Houses. It hinders their ability to plan long-term for services and programs that will meet the needs of their communities.

It is also deeply unfair to the thousands of community members who rely on Neighbourhood Houses for vital supports and connection. Open hours will decrease, limiting access and participation by those who need it most.

The budget of a typical Neighbourhood House is already challenged by rising service delivery costs and meeting obligations such as the State Government's Portable Long Service Leave.

It is simply unsustainable for Houses to be operating budget cycle to budget cycle. In order for Neighbourhood Houses to confidently plan ahead and effectively deliver for their communities, the State Government needs to provide them with certainty and security.  

What’s the background?

Around 400 Victorian Neighbourhood Houses receive core funding from the Department of Families, Fairness and Housing (DFFH), known as Neighbourhood Houses Coordination Program (NHCP) funding.

In 2018, after a massive advocacy campaign undertaken by the sector, the State Government made a $21.8 million investment across four years (equating to $5.45 million a year), in recognition of the inadequate funding for many Neighbourhood Houses and the need for additional Neighbourhood Houses to support local communities. This additional funding supported:

  • 167 Neighbourhood Houses to increase their coordination hours to 25 hours a week
  • Increased hours for Neighbourhood House Networks (there are 16 Networks which provide tailored support to the Houses within their regions); and
  • 27 Neighbourhood Houses started receiving NHCP funding for the very first time - including the Ballarat East Neighbourhood House


At the time of this announcement, it was not made clear by the State Government that, unlike existing Neighbourhood House funding, this new funding would be non-recurring and would indeed lapse in four years time.

In the May 2022 budget, the funding was extended – however only for two years, up until June 2024.

We are very concerned by the State Government’s apparent reluctance to securing this funding on a permanent basis.

What impact has the 2018 additional funding package had?

All data collected has demonstrated the solid return on investment this additional funding has provided for local communities over the last four years.

A recent report by Neighbourhood Houses Victoria, prepared for DFFH, found that the return on each dollar of the lapsing funding, under pandemic affected conditions, was between $2.47 and $3.42. Further, under projected normal conditions, it is anticipated these Neighbourhood Houses would generate a return of between $5.43 and $8.72 for each dollar of lapsing funding invested.

The report also found that, despite the third wave of COVID-19 and interruptions with lockdowns, there were over 33,000 visits and 3,278 activities run at these Neighbourhood Houses in just four days. In this same time period, they managed 13 tonnes of food relief and despite density limits, over 4,750 people undertook health and physical activity classes. They substantially exceeded every performance measure including coordination hours, activity hours and open hours.

Read these case studies

Why should Neighbourhood Houses be funded adequately?

Neighbourhood Houses connect local communities and provide hundreds of services and programs right across metro, regional and rural Victoria, despite operating on a shoe-string budget with limited resources.

Across the sector:

  • we employ over 5,000 Victorians, the vast majority of whomare women;
  • around 200,000 Victorians access a Neighbourhood House in an average week; equating to 10 million visits a year;
  • we are one of the biggest providers of early childhood services, particularly childcare, and adult community education in the state;
  • in 2020, for every $1 of NHCP funding we received, we generated $22.05 in community value; and
  • during COVID-19 restrictions in August last year, despite operating at a reduced capacity, Neighbourhood Houses were still able to deliver $1.1 million a day in community value.

The work of Neighbourhood Houses has significant impact on so many areas that determine quality of life for Victorians including:

  • combating loneliness and social isolation;
  • improving mental and physical health and wellbeing;
  • uplifting people experiencing poverty and disadvantage;
  • support and inclusion of people from a diverse range of backgrounds including disability, migrant, refugee and LGBTIQ communities;
  • providing support and referral to people experiencing family violence;
  • helping people gain core skills for employment.

Importantly, they strengthen community pride and belonging.

There are also at least five Aboriginal-run Neighbouhood Houses which provide important healing spaces for Aboriginal Victorians to preserve their culture and histories, access culturally safe supports and services, and which empower mob through connection, education, and self-determination. A number of these are directly at risk of being defunded.

Who is the Minister responsible for Neighbourhood Houses?

The Minister recently appointed the portfolio for Disability, Ageing and Carers is Colin Brooks MP

Minister for Disability, Ageing and Carers, Colin Brooks MP:This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

How can you help?

The Ballarat East Neighbourhood House and Central Highlands Association of Neighbourhood Houses (our Network) have both sent letters to our local MPs and the City of Ballarat Mayor: 

  1. Michaela Settle MP:  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
  2. Bev McArthur MP: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
  3. Andy Meddick MP: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
  4. Jaala Pulford MP: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
  5. Gayle Tierney MP: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
  6. Stuart Grimley MP: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
  7. Mayor, Cr Daniel Moloney: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

We would appreciate you writing an email to the eight people listed above, urging them to intervene to make this non-recurring funding permanent. You can include a link to this page in your email or copy the text.

If you're an organisation that supports the work of Neighbourhood Houses, please send us your logo and brief statement we will add it to this webpage. Your demonstration of support will be of incredible value to us. Please email rThis email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..