Major funding boost for neighbourhood houses

NEIGHBOURHOOD Houses Tasmania is set to receive $990,000 in funding following the release of the 2016/17 State Budget.

This will equate to $30,000 of additional funding over two years for each neighbourhood house supported by the Department of Health and Human Services.

Minister for Human Services Jacquie Petrusma made the funding announcement at a special event at Parliament House in Hobart, which was attended by volunteers and staff representatives from the 35 neighbourhood houses across Tasmania.

Held during Neighbourhood Houses Week, the event celebrated the hard work neighbourhood houses perform in assisting vulnerable Tasmanians.

Neighbourhood Houses Tasmania executive office John Hooper said the organisation’s volunteers and staff were delighted to hear the funding announcement.

“We have been seeking extended funding from the government to maintain the great work that neighbourhood houses already do in the face of rising costs and the pressures on their communities,” he said.

“This funding will provide such relief for our members and will make a real difference across Tasmania and to all the low-income and isolated communities involved.”

Mr Hooper said the funding would go towards increasing staffing hours, providing vital staff and volunteer training, and increasing practical resources.

This would include funding parenting workshops in local communities, buying tools and protective gear for men’s sheds, purchasing potting mix and plants for community gardens to help promote healthy cooking classes, co-ops and horticultural training.

Mr Hooper said it would also provide the chance to purchase solar panels and reduce running costs.

“We hope this funding can be increased even further when the economic circumstances change,” he said.

“However, we recognised that in the current State Budget circumstances, this is a great outcome for local communities and shows that the government recognises and values the vital work of neighbourhood houses.”

Neighbourhood Houses Tasmania also used event to launch its new book, “Our Stories”, which provides a rare window into the operations and personal stories of 14 of Tasmania’s neighbourhood houses.

Speaker of the House of Assembly Elise Archer, who attended the event, said she was “delighted” to continue her long-term support of the network.

“Neighbourhood houses operate for their local community – with their local community, and are responsive to local community needs,” she said.

“Each one is different and offers vital services tailored to support their local residents who may be vulnerable or socially isolated.”

Caption: From left, Neighbourhood Houses Tasmania executive officer John Hooper, West Moonah Community House board member Sharyn Hill, Speaker of the House of Assembly Elise Archer, and West Moonah Community House board members Maureen Carter and Lorraine Bailey.

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