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Neighbourhood house on the move!

Pangerang Community House's mobile community hub, designed to boost connections and learning opportunities in the smaller communities of Rural City of Wangaratta, will hit the road later this year.

"We were incredibly fortunate to receive over $540,000 in funding from the Commonwealth Government Black Summer Bushfire Recovery funding," said Tennille Hall, Executive Officer at Pangerang. "We've partnered with the UMRNHN to develop this amazing neighbourhood house on wheels, drawing on the experience of the Network in delivering the bushfire recovery Enabling Communities project."

The project builds on three models:

  • Chrysalis Mobile Art Hub (featured in Network Newsletter 2/2019) - a mobile arts and culture learning space that provides a neutral platform to bring diverse groups of people together

  • The award winning project ‘Van-tastic’ (Moyne, Victoria) – a van used to take services, information and support directly to fire affected communities literally on the side of the road

  • The ‘What Bus’ (Frankston, Victoria) – a mobile youth centre which provided a range of youth activities to the Kinglake communities after Black Saturday

The hub (a small truck or caravan) will travel to local communities to provide opportunities to 'learn, create and connect' by removing barriers to participants such as transport, costs and accessibility. "We know how important social connections are to the mental health and wellbeing of people in our communities, so we see this mobile hub as a real connector," Tennille said. "We have definitely identified a need for more programs and activities in our smaller communities."

Through discussions with those communities, a program of activities and workshops will be developed for delivery in townships within the Rural City of Wangaratta and neighbouring districts, with regular visits planned.

"The idea is to have drawers in the truck which can be interchangeable depending on the programs we're conducting - for instance, depending on whether communities are interested in something like arts and mosaics, or family history," said Tennille.

The mobile hub will have digital devices (eg laptops, tablets) and internet accessibility available for use. And wherever it travels to, the hub will have people on board to offer digital support, including learning how to use their devices.

The other important role for the hub is to be available to set up at an emergency evacuation centre. "The hub will be set up so we can offer a place for evacuees to gather and support each other, have a cup of tea, access the internet and digital devices and have activities for the kids," said Tennille.

"As the hub moves around the communities it will gain visibility and people will connect to it. So if the worst happens and they do need to evacuate they will see the mobile hub and feel comfortable visiting it."

A project worker will be appointed to oversee the initiative, and an advisory group will be formed comprising stakeholders representing a broad range of service providers in the region.

"We will then start consulting with communities to understand what their needs are, and of course purchasing and fitting out the hub," said Tennille. "We hope with the right design and fit-out we will also be able to hire the vehicle to schools and groups for their fundraising objectives.

"I'm really excited, and we have great support from the Rural City of Wangaratta, Albury Wodonga Health, and NHVic, who could all see the benefits."

Congratulations to Pangerang on a fantastic project! We look forward to seeing how it progresses.

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