MP requests permanent funding for community houses

(Hannah Busing/Unsplash)

By Matthew Sims

Western Metropolitan MP Catherine Cumming has asked for Disability, Ageing and Carers Minister Colin Brooks to make the non-recurring funding for neighbourhood houses permanent.

She raised the question during parliament on Thursday, August 4 and said without the funding being allocated on a permanent basis, the future of a number of neighbourhood houses was in doubt.

“In 2018, the state government made an investment across four years in recognition of the inadequacies of funding for many underfunded neighbourhood houses, including a number in (the) Western Metropolitan region,” Dr Cumming said.

“At the time of this announcement it was not made clear that, unlike existing neighbourhood house funding, this new funding would be non-recurring and would lapse in four years time.”

She said that representatives from a number of neighbourhood houses within the Western Metropolitan region had contacted her, including Angliss Neighbourhood House in Footscray, Joan Kirner House in Williamstown, Spotswood Community House and the Louis Joel Arts and Community Centre in Altona.

“The work of neighbourhood houses has a significant impact on so many areas that determine quality of life for Victorians, including combating loneliness and social isolation, mental and physical health and wellbeing, poverty and disadvantage,” Dr Cumming said.

“They support people from a diverse range of backgrounds, including people with a disability, from migrant and refugee communities and people experiencing family violence, and they help people gain core skills for employment.

“They employ over 5000 Victorians, the vast majority of whom are women, and around 200,000 Victorians access a neighbourhood house in an average week.”

She said without funding on a permanent basis, there would be a number of impacts.

“There is a risk of the closure of 27 neighbourhood houses, including four Aboriginal-run neighbourhood houses and 12 in rural Victoria,” Dr Cumming said.

“Neighbourhood houses certainly need their fair share of funding, and they need it now.”