Ms MIKAKOS (Minister for Families and Children) (09:45:11) — I rise to update the house on how the Andrews Labor government is investing in neighbourhood houses and supporting their expansion across Victoria. Our government recognises the important role facilities like neighbourhood houses play in being places of inclusion for many people, as well as assisting in social cohesion, the provision of education and the opportunity to volunteer in local communities.
Through the neighbourhood house coordination program our government provides recurrent funding of over $30.11 million per annum to support 375 neighbourhood houses, 16 neighbourhood house networks and the peak body, Neighbourhood Houses Victoria. And I am very pleased that, as part of the 2018–19 budget, we saw record new funding of $21.8 million to expand the neighbourhood house network and support staff, the volunteers and the local communities that they serve.
In one budget we have invested almost eight times what the former Liberal government spent during their entire term in support of neighbourhood houses. Our record investment has funded additional coordination hours to houses that previously received less than 25 coordination hours per week, and a total of 162 neighbourhood houses have had their coordination hours increased. This is the biggest ever funding boost in neighbourhood house coordination hours in Victoria’s history.
We have also increased funding to neighbourhood house networks to deliver 4800 additional hours of support to neighbourhood houses. These networks provide valuable advice and support to neighbourhood houses to improve access to key services and activities. We are also providing coordination hours funding to a number of new or existing unfunded neighbourhood houses. The application process for new or unfunded neighbourhood houses closed on 31 July, and I look forward to announcing the newly funded neighbourhood houses very soon.
Further, neighbourhood houses funded through the neighbourhood house coordination program are now eligible to apply for non-recurrent grants of up to $30 000 to support small-scale infrastructure modifications to improve accessibility, as well as grants of up to $10 000 for minor works, equipment and ICT upgrades. Those grant applications close at 5 p.m. on 1 October.
Our government’s unprecedented investment will ensure neighbourhood houses can continue to provide the vital employment, training and volunteering services that people need. Our government has put people first, and this is why we want more Victorians to experience the benefits of neighbourhood houses and the wonderful work that they do. I take this opportunity to congratulate Neighbourhood Houses Victoria in working with our government to deliver a great outcome.