Funding pressure looms


Northern Victoria MP Wendy Lovell has warned neighbourhood houses will be under financial pressure and may be forced to cut back services if they do not receive a funding boost.

Throughout Victoria there are more than 400 neighbourhood houses which deliver vital services, especially in the regional areas.

Ms Lovell there must be a commitment to deliver the requested $2.5 million for neighbourhood houses.

“Neighbourhood houses provide invaluable benefit to the community, and the government must do what is necessary to ensure these Houses remain sustainable into the future,” she said.

They provide services such as toy libraries and book swaps, English classes and internet access, Men’s Sheds and childcare, community gardens and communal lunches, arts and crafts, and food banks.

In a statement, Ms Lovell said these services are delivered by 5500 staff, and almost 7000 dedicated volunteers, who receive 10 million visits a year and give out 2000 tons of food relief.

She said for a service that already runs on a shoe-string budget, cost increases and a shortfall of funding seriously threaten the long-term sustainability of the program.

Neighbourhood Houses Victoria has appealed for additional funding of $2.5 million to be shared across the network, and Ms Lovell spoke in parliament to support this request.

Ms Lovell’s statement also said indexed funding increases for neighbourhood houses are not keeping pace with real inflation, and without urgent support the food banks will soon have to start turning people away.