Speak to anyone connected with Neighbourhood Houses and Adult Learning Centres about their sector and you’ll get the same story. Huge amounts of time and dollars are gobbled up in sourcing grants, then in ‘accounting for’ the tiny amounts handed out for short term ‘one off’ projects/classes.
The funding battle, accompanied by a rising level of frustration, has been going on for years, despite the fact that just about every small community around Australia has a House, loaded with volunteers and enjoying strong grassroots support.
It seems a ‘lack of evidence’ is a major obstacle. SOME pollies are great advocates and current research shows much good flows from ‘feeling connected’, BUT, essentially, those holding the pursestrings just don’t ‘get it’, AND it appears the sector is not eligible for philanthropic grants!
The latest report on the campaign – via Karen Throssell at Warrandyte Neighbourhood House (WNH) – is that after Minister Candy Broad and electoral offices have been ‘drowned’ in postcards and letters of support, there may be a glimmer of light! There has been a request for case studies showing the connection between Neighbourhood Houses and 1)childcare needs; 2)intellectual disabilities; 3)domestic violence, as these are part of the Fairer Victoria policy.
Finally, the question ‘Why are Neighbourhood Houses so much in debt?’ is being asked. As Karen says, despite many volunteers and the courses ‘paying for themselves’ with the current funding there is nothing over to pay salaries, rent and other overheads.
NEIGHBOURHOOD HOUSE PETITION
In response to the vigorous lobbying in his electorate, Peter Hall, National Party spokesperson for Education, Tertiary Education, Resources and the Environment has created a petition requesting the government commits $85 million over 5 years to increase the operational funding to the whole sector as outlined in their Budget Submission currently before the government.
TO PARTICIPATE IN THE PETITION CONTACT: Peter Hall Ph – 03 5174 7066