Houses join in funds fight

Neighbourhood houses across Gippsland have united to lobby for additional funding in the lead up to the state election later this year.

Neighbourhood Houses Gippsland region networker Antonia Halloran-Lavelle said most neighbourhood houses operated well over the number of hours for which they were funded.

“You speak to any coordinator and ask them how many hours they’ve done this week, and they’ll probably say ‘only double what I’m paid to do’,” she said.

“People do it for the love. I’m only funded for one hour, one house per week. And that doesn’t even cover my travel to one house.

“It is an area in the community sector that is vital and it is grossly underfunded.

“We are asking for that to be increased and we are asking for recognition for what neighbourhood houses do across the sector, and the work they do in increasing community participation, and recognising the important, vital roles they play in community.”

Churchill Neighbourhood Centre manager Abigail Brown is funded 30 hours a week but said she would love to do more.

“There is a lot waiting in the wings. We run classes, a whole range of activities and I have to concentrate on those. I want to develop and move the centre forward,” she said.

“I find a lot of my time is taken up in administrative work, when I know there is a lot that we could be doing in the community to move the community forward with families and young people.

“Doing the networking to build relationships, and I’m not able to do that because there is not the capacity to go out and make those links.”

Morwell Neighbourhood House manager Tracie Lund said there were certain stereotypes surrounding neighbourhood houses that were not representative of the work they do in the community.

Latrobe City mayor Darrell White will write to Families and Children Minister Jenny Mikakos to request increased funding to neighbourhood houses in Latrobe City and across Gippsland in this year’s state budget.