Each year we host our flagship event, the NHVic Conference.

The conference brings together neighbourhood house managers, staff and committee members, and other relevant stakeholders in the community services sector, to be inspired, learn something new, network and celebrate the life-changing work of our houses.

Attendees are treated to a diverse program including keynotes and presentations, breakout workshops, lightning talks, awards and a gala dinner.

In 2020, the conference attracted 340 delegates from over 180 organisations becoming our biggest conference in its 32 year history.

The 2020 NHVic Conference

The 2020 NHVic Conference was held 4 to 6 March in Lorne with keynotes from journalist and Order of Australia recipient Tracey Spicer and endurance athlete and social entrepreneur Samantha Gash.

You can view a copy of the conference program.

Thank you to our sponsors for their generous support:

​Nicole's reflections

What an incredibly special experience this year’s conference was.

After 32 years of running a conference, this was our biggest one yet with 340 delegates representing over 180 organisations. For me these stats are more than just impressive attendance figures. They reinforce just how strong and united we are as a sector and as a group of community activists.

As I mentioned during my presentation, across Australia there are more neighbourhood houses than there are McDonalds, more people visit one a week than the population of Canberra. Not only is this an enormous footprint, but it also represents an even bigger collective voice – one that we need to start using in order to affect real social and economic change.

Whilst I enjoyed all of the speakers and various presentations, here are some of my own personal highlights:

  • Being inspired by the journeys of our keynotes Tracey Spicer and Samantha Gash. Sometimes life doesn’t go as well as we planned in our head, so it is always good to hear from people who were still able to make a difference in the wake of some fairly serious setbacks.


  • Having the opportunity to meet so many new coordinators and committee members from all over Victoria, who have recently joined our amazing sector.
  • Having not one but two Ministers (Luke Donnellan MP and Gayle Tierney MP) take part – to me this sends a strong signal that the State Government recognises our sector as a valuable and important contributor to the health and wellbeing of the broader Victorian community.
  • Big thank you to our lightning talk presenters: Melanie from Highett Neighbourhood Community House, Vicky and Beth from Kinglake Ranges Neighbourhood House, Karsten from Willum Warrain Aboriginal Association, Jonathan and Edgar from Banksia Gardens Community Services, Leanne and Ursula from the Darebin Neighbourhood House Network and Beth from the Barwon Network.

  • I did, however, want to especially acknowledge both Annie from Bruthen & District Neighbourhood House and Evelyn Schmidt from Buchan Neighbourhood House. Listening to the work that you have been doing to support your communities in the wake of the recent bushfires was so incredibly moving and heartfelt. Thank you for everything that you do and for sharing your story with us. Please know that I and everyone in that room is with you.
  • Then of course our fabulous 80s themed Gala Dinner - what a throwback!

At the Gala Dinner, Chairperson Gina Dougall and I also had the honour of announcing our 2020 NHVic Award winners. They were:

  • Farnham Street Neighbourhood Learning Centre for their Resilient Refugee Youth project which teams newly arrived young people with mentors to help them settle into Australian society
  • Phillip Island Community and Learning Centre for their bushfire responsive Wildlife Bee event; and
  • Wellsprings for Women for their Making a Difference program which helps migrant woman establish an advocacy voice.

Congratulations also goes out to our finalists Whittlesea Community House, Leopold Community and Learning Centre, The Basin Community House, and Arrabri Community House.

So that’s my wrap up.

The feedback I've received so far has been incredibly positive overall - here's just one lovely response I've received:

Thank you Nicole and the NHVic Team for creating a conference that exceeded my expectations. I felt connected with like minded and like hearted community activists. It was moving and inspiring to hear everyone's stories. Time well spent!

Once again, thank you to everyone who made their way to Lorne to help make this year’s conference a truly memorable and uplifting experience. 

Nicole x