Neighbourhood Houses Gippsland (NHG) funded by the Department of Jobs, Precincts and Regions Let’s Stay Connect and the Regional Digital Fund, developed a website which collates programs being run from Neighbourhood Houses within the NHG network. The website also showcases the volunteer stories and opportunities within the sector. This is the first time a Network have developed a site like this and believe it will strengthen their work and increase participation from community members across the region. The website can be viewed here: www.nhg.org.au
NHG Network Manager Antonia Halloran-Lavelle said “During the pandemic the Network became stronger than ever and, recognizing the unique differences between what each House provides, wanted to improve access for communities. If the House in your local community is not offering opportunities that meet your need then have a look at what other Houses within the region are offering. Community members can walk into any Neighbourhood House and be met with a warm welcome and access their services.”
The website was launched during Volunteer Week in recognition of the significant contribution volunteers make to the sector. Speaking at Phillip Island’s Community & Learning Centre (PICAL) Antonia said “the variation of volunteer opportunities within Neighbourhood Houses is incredible, they are the backbone of the sector. Opportunities will be advertised on the website as well as showcasing the fantastic work undertaken by volunteers”.
A Wurruk Community House volunteer, Jade Bradley, was awarded the prestigious 2021 Victorian Social Housing – Frances Penington Volunteer Award on Thursday (5 May 2022), at an award ceremony held at Victoria Parliament House.
Jade was nominated for her invaluable work with the delivery of the original ‘Wurruk Community House Foodbank Outreach Program’ in the first year of Covid.
Then last year, when our community demand outstripped capacity with the outreach program, and we successfully gained charitable status, Jade worked tirelessly setting up and in-house delivery of the Wurruk Food Pantry, which was achieved in record time.
The Wurruk Food Pantry is a vital service, delivering much needed food relief for the community of Wurruk, as well as a way for many community members to connect with their community house and other community members.
Receiving this prestigious award acknowledges and recognises Jade’s fabulous contribution to Wurruk Community House.
We’re super proud of Jade and our wonderful team of volunteers!
Neighbourhood Houses in Gippsland have provided more than $8 million in value between April 2019 to March 2020, to their local community according to a study by Deloitte. The social return on investment for Houses was calculated at an astounding $2.78 for every dollar invested in activities. As well as this outstanding financial return, the report also found that the Neighbourhood House’s in Gippsland provided significant community benefit by building individual and community resilience, improved social participation, emergency relief and improved health and well being.
There are 20 Neighbourhood Houses within the Neighbourhood Houses Gippsland (NHG) network. These houses support communities from Warragul to Loch Sport and down as far as Phillip Island. Often seen as a safe space within communities their work includes community lunches, exercise classes, adult learning, community garden activities as well as arts and crafts. In addition to these activities many houses now, seeing the need within their communities, offer emergency food relief and are dealing on a regular basis with community members struggling with social isolation, loneliness in addition to domestic violence and mental health issues.
Often overlooked and misunderstood NHG reached out to Deloitte for support to evidence the vital role they play in communities. NHG’s Network Manager Antonia Halloran-Lavelle stated “Neighbourhood Houses play a vital role in their communities. The current pandemic is a clear example of this, volunteers and staff from Neighbourhood Houses in Gippsland worked tirelessly checking in on community members, shopping, providing emergency food relief and collecting scripts. We connected with each other, listened to their community and responded swiftly.” Despite this Antonia went on to say “Neighbourhood Houses are often not included in emergency response strategies”. For further information contact Antonia on 0409 110 939 or call in to your local Neighbourhood House.
This last month we hosted a marvellous launch for our Community Energy Resilience project at the Venus Bay Community Centre: Community Energy meets the People!
The project has seen additional solar array added to our existing solar system, and a significant lithium battery. This means we can act as a mini Microgrid – with resilient energy available for our community members when the grid goes down.
We know that we are facing more frequent and severe weather events – and we know the impact that has on our community with no water, no power and for some no cooking or heating. This project seeks to address some of these issues while we look towards the bigger project of Community Energy for Venus Bay.
We hosted a range of State, Federal and local government representatives along with other stakeholders in our region who are looking at community energy/renewable energy projects. Most importantly, we welcomed community members and champions for this project.
With support from the Victorian State Government through Sustainability Victoria to the Gippsland
Community Power Hub, along with cash and in-kind contributions from the Venus Bay Community Centre; we were pleased to showcase our project and demonstrate what community can do when they work together on issues they share.
Where to from here? We have applied for funding from Federal Government to undertake a significant feasibility study to understand what community energy solutions might look like for us – with opportunities for plenty of community input and feedback along with way. Ideally this will help to define a business case for which we can then look for ways to implement. In addition, we know lots of community members have questions about their own renewable energy systems – what kind of system might be suitable for individual households, what kind of battery capacity is needed etc.
We are aiming to host another community forum in May to offer some practitioner guidance on these issues, and to share what we know.