Despite many community organisations being ignored in Victoria’s State Budget, Nationals Member for Euroa Annabelle Cleeland has continued to advocate for Neighbourhood Houses to receive essential funding to continue their operations.
In a recent letter to the Minister for Ageing, Disability and Carers Lizzie Blandthorn, Ms Cleeland said time was running out for local Stanhope Neighbourhood House annex support service to secure the funding it needs to continue to operate.
“With funding only available for the Stanhope Neighbourhood House services until the end of June 2023, I have called on the Government to urgently fund this crucial outreach service,” Ms Cleeland said.
“I have asked that they allocate $40,000 over the next two years, allowing Girgarre Community Cottage to continue to offer the satellite service in Stanhope each week, and enable the amazing coordinator Kezia to recruit and train more volunteers, and engage more tutors and facilitators.
“This funding and upskilling will have a flow on benefit to the services offered in the Stanhope and Girgarre community too.”
Girgarre Community Cottage received a grant to offer a neighbourhood house annex program for one day a week in Girgarre.
In the past year, the community cottage has nearly doubled it’s food bank offering, patient transport program and support services since operating in Stanhope.
“These small communities are experiencing extreme cost of living pressures, and the Community Cottage is one of the only safety nets to help our most vulnerable,” Ms Cleeland said.
“We need to be supporting coordinators like the incredible Kezia Talbot and provide financial security to allow them to protect and help our communities, not make them beg for funding to survive.
“In many of our communities, our neighbourhood houses act as a one-stop-shop for help. When the demand on their services has never been so high, it is critical the government steps in to support them.
“Extending this funding would ensure that community organisations like Girgarre Community Cottage can continue to service a growing population in these towns, who desperately need the services that are being provided.”
Without this funding of $40,000, these services will significantly reduce in a matter of weeks.
As part of her commitment to community, Ms Cleeland is actively encouraging the Minister for Disability, Ageing and Carers to come to the table whilst the opportunity is there and not wear the reputational cost of letting these vital community facilities close.