Ms MIKAKOS (Minister for Families and Children) (09:51:38) — I rise to update the house on the Andrews Labor government’s record of investment in expanding the neighbourhood house network across Victoria. The Andrews government are backing our neighbourhood houses as we want to ensure more Victorians have access to the vital employment, training and volunteering services that many neighbourhood houses provide in local communities across Victoria. That is why the 2018–19 Victorian budget invests a further $21.8 million across the neighbourhood house network so that more people can enjoy the benefits of neighbourhood houses and the activities and services they provide.
This is the biggest funding boost to neighbourhood house coordination hours ever, with an extra 76 700 hours to be delivered each year to more houses across the state. This funding will also provide mobile neighbourhood house networkers with an additional 4800 hours per year to spend more time with individual houses in their region to help them improve access to key services and activities. This builds on the more than $30 million per annum that our government already provides to support 375 neighbourhood houses, 16 neighbourhood house networks and the peak body, Neighbourhood Houses Victoria.
I was privileged to officially open the 2018 Neighbourhood Houses Victoria conference last Thursday in Melbourne, where I also announced that our government has formally opened an expression of interest process for eligible neighbourhood houses to apply for an increase in their funding. I further announced that the Andrews government’s budget investment will also help fund brand-new neighbourhood houses in areas of greatest need and allow some currently unfunded houses with a demonstrated need to receive neighbourhood house coordination program funding for the first time.
Neighbourhood houses create vibrant, inclusive and connected communities through effective community development. We want more people across Victoria to experience the benefits of the wonderful work that the sector does. This is an exciting time for neighbourhood houses in Victoria, and I am so pleased that we have been able to provide this significant funding for them. This record investment is almost eight times more than what was delivered under the previous Liberal government, and our record investment in neighbourhood houses stands in stark contrast to that of the Turnbull government, which is slashing the national occasional care program.