What we do Advocacy 2022 NHCP funding advocacy Update 2 September: The Hon. Colin Brooks MP confirmed yesterday that the current Victorian Government will make the previously non-recurring funding permanent. We're thrilled with this outcome, which will provide security for Neighbourhood Houses in Victoria, allowing them to continue their incredible work supporting the community. We want to extend a huge thank you for your support and advocacy, which has helped us achieve this result and continue delivering for communities. Read the full statement here. With the Victorian State Election taking place in November 2022, we are advocating for a fair, permanent increase to Neighbourhood House Coordination Program (NHCP) funding, with almost half of the sector experiencing the threat of funding cuts in two years time. On this page: What we want What's at risk Neighbourhood Houses impacted Why is the current situation unfair? What’s the background? What impact has the 2018 additional funding package had? Why should Neighbourhood Houses be funded adequately? Who is the Minister responsible for Neighbourhood Houses? Responses to our campaign so far Support from local councils How can you help? What we want End the uncertainty and insecurity. The incoming State Government must commit to making currently non-recurring funding – worth $5.45 million a year – a permanent part of Neighbourhood House Coordination Program (NHCP) funding. What's at risk? If this additional funding is not made permanent, following June 2024, 210 Neighbourhood Houses and Networks are at risk of defunding or funding cuts. More specifically, it could result in: the closure of up to 27 Neighbourhood Houses including four Aboriginal run Neighbourhood Houses and 12 in rural Victoria the reduction of over 77,000 hours annually of paid employment almost entirely impacting women the loss of 154,000 hours of Neighbourhood House activity annually impacting 189 communities Basically, in just two years, we could see a dramatic cut to local support services and community development, and significant job losses across our sector. Which Neighbourhood Houses are impacted? You can view a list here. Why is the current situation unfair? By denying permanency of this funding, the State Government is creating unnecessary anxiety and uncertainty for the staff and voluntary committees that operate these Houses. It hinders their ability to plan long-term for services and programs that will meet the needs of their communities. It is also deeply unfair to the thousands of community members who rely on Neighbourhood Houses for vital supports and connection. Open hours will decrease, limiting access and participation by those who need it most. The budget of a typical Neighbourhood House is already challenged by rising service delivery costs and meeting obligations such as the State Government's Portable Long Service Leave. It is simply unsustainable for Houses to be operating budget cycle to budget cycle. In order for Neighbourhood Houses to confidently plan ahead and effectively deliver for their communities, the State Government needs to provide them with certainty and security. What’s the background? Around 400 Victorian Neighbourhood Houses receive core funding from the Department of Families, Fairness and Housing (DFFH), known as Neighbourhood Houses Coordination Program (NHCP) funding. In 2018, after a massive advocacy campaign undertaken by the sector, the State Government made a $21.8 million investment across four years (equating to $5.45 million a year), in recognition of the inadequate funding for many Neighbourhood Houses and the need for additional Neighbourhood Houses to support local communities. This additional funding supported: 27 Neighbourhood Houses to receive NHCP funding for the very first time 167 Neighbourhood Houses to increase their coordination hours to 25 hours a week; and Increased hours for 16 Neighbourhood House Networks (there are 16 Networks across Victoria which provide tailored support to the Houses within their regions) At the time of this announcement, it was not made clear by the State Government that, unlike existing Neighbourhood House funding, this new funding would be non-recurring and would indeed lapse in four years time. In the recent May budget, the funding was extended – however only for two years, up until June 2024. We are very concerned by the State Government’s apparent reluctance to securing this funding on a permanent basis. What impact has the 2018 additional funding package had? All data collected has demonstrated the solid return on investment this additional funding has provided for local communities over the last four years. A recent report by Neighbourhood Houses Victoria, prepared for DFFH, found that the return on each dollar of the additional funding: under pandemic affected conditions: between $2.47 and $3.42 under projected normal conditions: between $5.43 and $8.72 The report also found that, despite the third wave of COVID-19 and interruptions with lockdowns, there were over 33,000 visits and 3,278 activities run at these Neighbourhood Houses in just four days. In this same time period, they managed 13 tonnes of food relief and despite density limits, over 4,750 people undertook health and physical activity classes. They substantially exceeded every performance measure including coordination hours, activity hours and open hours. Read these case studies Why should Neighbourhood Houses be funded adequately? Neighbourhood Houses connect local communities and provide hundreds of services and programs right across metro, regional and rural Victoria, despite operating on a shoe-string budget with limited resources. What do these services and programs include? Across the sector: we employ over 5,000 Victorians, the vast majority of which are women around 200,000 Victorians access a Neighbourhood House in an average week; equating to 10 million visits a year we are one of the biggest providers of early childhood services, particularly childcare, and adult community education in the state in 2020, for every $1 of NHCP funding we received, we generated $22.05 in community value; and during COVID-19 restrictions in August last year, despite operating at a reduced capacity, Neighbourhood Houses were still able to deliver $1.1 million a day in community value The work of Neighbourhood Houses has significant impact on so many areas that determine quality of life for Victorians including: combating loneliness and social isolation improving mental and physical health and wellbeing uplifting people experiencing poverty and disadvantage support and inclusion of people from a diverse range of backgrounds including disability, migrant, refugee and LGBTIQ communities providing support and referral to people experiencing family violence helping people gain core skills for employment. Importantly, they strengthen community pride and belonging. There are also at least six Aboriginal-run Neighbouhood Houses which provide important healing spaces for Aboriginal Victorians to preserve their culture and histories, access culturally safe supports and services, and which empower mob through connection, education, and self-determination. A number of these are directly at risk of being defunded. Who is the Minister responsible for Neighbourhood Houses? Colin Brooks MP is the Minister for Disability, Ageing and Carers. Responses to our campaign so far The Liberals and Nationals have committed. Read the media release. The Victorian Greens, The Reason Party and Derryn's Hinch's Justice Party have all expressed their support. Read their party leader responses: Samantha Ratnam MP - Victorian Greens Fiona Patten MP - The Reason Party Stuart Grimley MP - Derryn Hinch's Justice Party The following independents have also expressed their support: Dr Catherine Cumming MP (Western Metropolitan) Suzanna Sheed MP (Shepparton) Labor has so far not committed. Their current response: "Future funding arrangements for the Neighbourhood House Coordination Program will be considered as part of the 2024-25 State Budget process." Read the full response. Support from local councils We're honoured by the support from local council members joining our advocacy efforts. You can read some of their letters of support here: Ararat Rural City Council Hindmarsh Shire Council If you would like to show support for the campaign, please send a letter of support and/or a high res logo to [email protected]. How can you help? Neighbourhood Houses and Networks Letter templates have been developed for Neighbourhood Houses and Networks to send to MPs and Mayors across Victoria. Access resources Other organisations and local governments If you're an organisation that supports the work of Neighbourhood Houses, please send us your logo and brief statement we will add it to this webpage. Your demonstration of support will be of incredible value to us. Please email [email protected] More resources will become available as the election campaign heats up. Watch this space.