Neighbourhood Houses Tasmania, the network of 33 DHHS funded Houses, their committees, staff and the over 1400 volunteers in Houses were ecstatic about the Budget announcements today that included adding a 34th State funded Neighbourhood House to the network. Welcome Phoenix Community House on King Island!

In the state budget the government confirmed a series of election commitments to support the community development model of Tasmania’s Neighbourhood Houses, whether they be in Zeehan or St Helens, Bridgewater or East Devonport.

The core commitment is to increase the annual recurrent funding by $45 000 to each of the 33 currently funded Neighbourhood Houses was met with excitement and relief! This $45 000, indexed over 4 years, means each House now has the capacity to increase their staffing to the equivalent of 2 FTE and takes the core funding over $200 000 for each Neighbourhood House. This increase will make a massive difference to what each House achieves for their community.

The government knows that Houses deliver for their communities. Community gardens, pathways into training and employment, referrals to counselling/crisis support, community lunches, NILS loans…… the list of programs and supports Houses provide are too many to mention. And the results speak for themselves.

Recent data shows there are 1411 volunteers across the state, contributing collectively 168 hours per week per House. This equates to 266 000 hours per year! Each House has an average of 492 contacts with community members per week. As a result of interaction with their local House: 83 % of people are more confident; 71% of people feel safer in their community; 81 % have improved their family relationship; 89% are more connected in their community. A comprehensive report on the Outcomes for the network is available here: http://nht.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2014/03/NHT-Making-A-Difference-For-Our-Communities-Report-Web.pdf

John Hooper, Executive Officer of Neighbourhood Houses Tasmania commented “The government have seen this evidence, and as local Members they’ve met with participants and volunteers at Houses. They know the difference we make in our communities. The power of Houses is in creating ways for people to connect – whether it’s over lunch, in the community garden or learning together in a course. We know that when individuals and families and communities are better connected everyone is better off. I’ve been quoting Margaret Mead a lot lately…..Never doubt that a thoughtful group of committed citizens can change the world – Indeed it’s the only thing that ever has”

Our Associate Member, Phoenix House on King Island, has secured $120 000 a year recurrent funding (finally after years of advocacy). This great community development organisation and the people of King Island have struggled for years through successive short-term grants, with the constant stress of possible closure. They will be the first “new” Neighbourhood House added to the Network in over eleven years.

Sally Haneveer, Coordinator of Phoenix Community House, is so excited that Phoenix House to now be included as a full member in the Neighbourhood House Tasmania network. “A lot of people have put in endless hours of lobbying for this to happen and King Island will reap the rewards from this association”.

The Government has also committed:

$2 million in infrastructure funding to continue infrastructure upgrades for Neighbourhood Houses to be fit for purpose buildings. This continues a program started under the current and previous government and brings the sum total of infrastructure investment to over $9.5 million dollars.

$150 000 over 2 years for a grants program to enable security/safety upgrades across the network, with up to $5000 available per House. There are significant allocations in the State Budget to many regional and community election commitments. The Budget Papers do not go to the detail, and we look forward to confirmation from the government of commitments to individual Houses in the election period including:

$110 000 for Starting Point (Ravenswood) Neighbourhood House’s Men’s and Community Shed, and for $2 000 for a home cinema projector
$70 000 for the Dignity Garden Program, a partnership between Okines Community House, Dunalley Tasman Neighbourhood House and Pittwater Neighbourhood House
$25 000 for the preparatory work on renovations at Fingal Neighbourhood House.
$5 580 for Maranoa Heights Community Centre to replace computers
$15 000 for East Devonport Community House to upgrade equipment

Kate Beer, President of Neighbourhood Houses Tasmania Inc, and Manager of Devonport Community House said “I can’t tell you what these commitments mean to my community and to all the Houses across the state. This moves us to a sustainable and sufficient core funding and adds a new Member. We congratulate Premier Hodgman, Treasurer Gutwein, Minister Jaensch and the Government for listening to the 34 communities across the state and making this commitment. Tasmania will be better off as a result”.