The financial viability of all Neighbourhood Houses and Learning Centres must be the first priority for any increase in funding says the Sector’s State Association (ANHLC). New houses should not be established while funding levels are unsustainable.
Although the Sector’s role in strengthening communities has been recognised by government in transferring the Neighbourhood House Coordination Program (NHCP) to the Department for Victorian Communities, the recent budget allocation of a $12.4 million funding increase over 4 years, mostly to build ten new houses does nothing to address the ongoing problem that the NHCP, that pays coordinators’ salaries is only at about 80% of the Award rate.
This puts Management Committees in the impossible position of either paying staff (illegally) below Award rates or of using money raised by the community (through fees, fundraising events etc).
The Department of Human Services has argued that NHCP only makes a ‘contribution’ to the Coordinator’s hours BUT it requires Houses to report on 100% of the hours!
ANHLC sees an urgent need to fund a minimum of 35 hours of coordination that should be brought in over two years – a minimum of 20 hours in the first year rising to an average of 35 hours in the second year.