A Liberals and Nationals State Government will secure the future of Victoria’s Neighbourhood Houses, today announcing a commitment to providing increased recurrent funding should it form Government in November.
Shadow Minister for Disability, Carers and Seniors, Tim Bull, said this would end the uncertainty in the sector created by the current government.
In 2018 after a significant campaign by the sector, which was supported the Liberals and Nationals, additional funding of $5.4m per annum was provided to Neighbourhood Houses Victoria (NHV).
“Everyone who received this funding believed it was recurrent and utilised for core service provision purposes,” Mr Bull said.
This meant some staff were placed on permanent contracts and programs were established to run well into the future.
To be later told by the State Government it was not recurrent funding caused significant stress to many Neighbourhood House managers and workers.
NHV has advised that if this funding is not secured on a permanent basis, it will result in either the closure or a major reduction in services at 27 of Victoria’s 401 Neighbourhood Houses and a reduction of 154,000 hours across the remaining centres.
The Victorian Liberals and Nationals will not let that occur and will commit to making this funding recurrent.
“We understand the terrific work done by our Neighbourhood Houses and their need to plan their future with certainty,” Mr Bull said.
“We will not sit by and watch a number of them close leaving communities without vital programs that help regional families in the face of skyrocketing living costs.”
“On discovering this oversight, the Andrews Labor Government had a chance to rectify its error, but its inadequate response was a two-year extension until 2024, which solves none of the overarching issues around future uncertainty.”
NHV has embarked on a concerted campaign to secure recurrent funding and while the Andrews Labor Government has remained silent, the Liberals and Nationals have committed to providing this necessary funding.
Neighbourhood Houses Victoria’s Interim Chief Executive Officer Cameron MacRae said NHV is pleased to see the Victorian Liberals and Nationals commit to making this temporary funding uplift permanent and ongoing.
“In doing so, the Victorian Liberals and Nationals recognise the important role Neighbourhood Houses play in strengthening health and wellbeing outcomes for local Victorian communities, particularly in regional and rural Victoria where half of our over 400 Neighbourhood Houses are located,” Mr MacRae said.
“We look forward to hopefully seeing bipartisan support on this issue leading into the State Election. The uncertainty currently faced by Neighbourhood Houses and Networks simply cannot continue.”
The additional funding has provided for:
• 167 Neighbourhood Houses to increase their coordination hours to 25 hours a week,
• 27 Neighbourhood Houses which received financial support for the first time.
Neighbourhood Houses provide a range of important services to their local communities, including childcare, maternal child health, libraries, seniors’ groups, wellbeing activities, foodbanks, government services, and much more.