Friday 21 May 2021

Senator Penny Wong addressed a sold out crowd at The Hotel Windsor for the Neighbourhood House Sector Luncheon on Tuesday 18 May.

Fresh off the back of Neighbourhood House Week, the event marked the first time the sector would reunite following the COVID-19 pandemic. Over 200 neighbourhood house staff, committee members and stakeholders relished the opportunity to reconnect and network over a two course lunch.

Following a Welcome to Country by Wurundjeri Elder Uncle Colin Hunter, Senator Wong took to the stage and paid tribute to the sector's response during a challenging year.

"As you know, 2020 presented unprecedented challenges to the more than one thousand neighbourhood houses across Australia," Senator Wong said.

"In areas affected by the summer bushfires, neighbourhood houses rallied to provide vital support in cooking meals and providing clothes, to delivering mental health programs for bushfire victims."

She then moved onto the pandemic, acknowledging the hardship Victoria faced during 100 days of lockdown. "Through that time, neighbourhood houses worked to provide a continued sense of community. Doing so in the middle of a global pandemic is an incredible achievement and is a testament to the determination of all of those who work and support this sector."

Senator Wong went on to speak about the inequalities in our society, such as insecure work, which were only exacerbated by the pandemic, as well as the issue of gender equity. You can watch the full speech here:

Minister for Child Protection; Disability, Ageing and Carers Luke Donnellan and Minister for Environment, Energy and Climate Change Lily D'Ambrosio also spoke, followed by a guest talk by Gender Equity Victoria CEO Tanja Kovac. In a moving first-hand account, Tanja shared her own experience of when she became a mother several years ago, and the amazing support she received from her own local neighbourhood house. Tanja went on to present the Fiona Richardson Award for Gender Equity, having been Chief of Staff to Fiona before she passed away in 2017.

The 2021 NHVic Awards were presented, with the following winners announced:

  • Reducing Inequalities Award: Sydenham Neighbourhood House – Brimbank Live
  • Community Resilience Award: Bairnsdale Neighbourhood House – Rural Minds
  • Climate Action Award: Anglesea Community House – Anglesea Resale Shed
  • Fiona Richardson Award for Gender Equity: Alphington Community Centre – Women in the Shed
  • Social Enterprise Award: Bridge Darebin – Moon Rabbit

To read about the winners and finalists, visit the awards page.

To view photos from the event, visit the galleries page.

The crew from youth radio program 'Brimbank Live' (winners of the Reducing Inequalities Award) conducted interviews on the day. You can watch their interview with Neighbourhood Houses Victoria CEO Nicole Battle here: