Victorian Neighbourhood Houses struggle to meet demand
The Neighbourhood House sector seems particularly strong in Victoria. I have been told that Queensland doesn’t have Neighbourhood Houses at all. Is this true Queenslanders?
Neighbourhood Houses are warm, friendly supportive adult learning and ‘growing’ places AND they provide reasonably priced child care. In their grassroots position they quickly identify unmet social needs, such as the plight of refugees, and act both practically and as lobbyists.
Part of the success of Neighbourhood Houses is that people without the confidence to go to TAFE will come to them.
A snippet from Mary Robb, NE N’ House Networker:
Mary speaks about a man she found sitting in the Neighbourhood House in Northcote waiting to do a class. This in itself is not unusual, but she learned later that the man was agoraphobic and had not left his house for four years.
“He felt comfortable to be here,” she says, “It’s community-owned and it’s friendly and open.”
These are nonprofit organisations, run by volunteer committees, with rarely enough funded hours to stay open 40 hours per week, though in Victoria, the need is there.
Some Victorian stats:
“The goodwill is there but its not viable to run on a volunteer basis only…it’s crucial we get full investment,” said Mary Parfrey, manager of the Carlton Learning Centre in an interview with The Melbourne Times.
Full-time funding would mean more services such as:
Neighbourhood Houses provide crucial services but a lack of funds means they are struggling to cope with demand. (The Melbourne Times, September 13, 06.)
The Victorian Government HAS increased funding AND appears to be getting the message BUT it is now a matter of ‘wait and see’ if the campaign for a $44 million investment in the sector has been successful.
PWF would love to hear from states/territories other than Victoria about this sector’s work in their state???