WORKING WITH LOCAL GOVERNMENT
The Network has developed a strategy for working with Local Government, in an effort to increase the level of understanding councils have of Neighbourhood Houses, the role they play in community development, and the value they add to the community and economic development work of councils.
The relationship between Neighbourhood Houses (NH) and Local Government is becoming more of a focus across the State. There are a growing number of NHCP-funded centres that are auspiced by Local Government (we have three in the UMR Network) and many centres receive support from their local council through direct funding (eg recurrent and project) and/or in-kind funding (eg use of premises for ‘peppercorn’ rent).
With the introduction of rate capping in 2016/17 financial year, many councils are considering how funds are allocated. There is a concern amongst NHs that they may lose the support they receive, which for many places the ongoing viability of their centres at great risk.
Coupled with this is the growing scope of public libraries, which are usually run by Local Government through funds received from State Government and through rate revenue. Libraries are increasingly offering programs that are in direct competition with those run by NHs (eg craft programs, computer courses) and they are often offered for free.
A recent Round Table forum hosted by State Library Victoria highlighted the current movement of libraries into what has been the traditional space of NHs and Learn Locals. These are issues that are not going away!
The purpose of this Strategy is to develop a Network-wide approach to building relationships between UMRNHN members and their local council to:
raise the profile of NHs in each LGA so they become a ‘go to’ partner for Local Government
build partnerships that will enhance overall program delivery, rather than duplicating, thus improving opportunities for participation for local communities
The Strategy recognises that many NHs have built, or are building, great relationships with their council on their own behalf. We do not want to interfere with what is already working well, but to use the strength of the Network, and the NH sector more broadly, to enhance work that is already underway.
The UMR Network-wide Strategy for Working with Local Government can be found here.