Neighbourhood Centres play a vital role in communities throughout NSW and ahead of the next State Election two peak bodies are fighting to give them the recognition they need to continue providing local services to local people.
NSW Council of Social Service (NCOSS) and the Local Community Services Association (LCSA) are calling for the next State Government to renew investment in this important community and social infrastructure.
Neighbourhood Centres currently receive funding from Family and Community Services (FACS) under the same program that funds services for children and families at risk of entering the child protection system.
Under reforms to the child protection system, Neighbourhood centres are being told they need to shift their focus to these families and children, which impacts their ability to continue supporting other vulnerable groups and diverse needs.
Neighbourhood Centres throughout NSW require additional and separate funding to remain sustainable and continue their important work in making communities stronger, more connected and safer.
NCOSS CEO, Joanna Quilty said Neighbourhood Centres are an example of local organisations that are locally managed, responsive to local need and providing support to people who might otherwise fall through the cracks.
“Throughout NSW, Neighbourhood Centres work to maintain a more connected community by providing practical support and assistance to those in need,” Ms Quilty said.
“Youth programs, English language classes, volunteer home visiting, financial counselling, mental health groups – there is such a wide variety of things that Neighbourhood Centres do.
“And by providing this support and connection, they help people maintain independence and wellbeing, and prevent them from becoming socially isolated.
“Communities trust Neighbourhood Centres because of their unique focus on local needs.”
NCOSS and the LCSA are calling for greater investment in this important social infrastructure.
The two peak bodies are also calling for the next State government to prioritise and support the establishment of Neighbourhood Centres in new suburbs throughout NSW.
LCSA Executive Officer, Can Yasmut, said political leaders need to recognise there is strength in diversity, and that we need to retain a diverse community services system in which locally-based and governed Neighbourhood Centres play a vital role.
“There is broad agreement by policy makers and community leaders that place-based strategies are the best way to address local community issues, and the evidence is clear: Building and maintaining stronger and more connected communities leads to better outcomes for children, families and all vulnerable and isolated members of the community,” Mr Yasmut said.
“Neighbourhood and Community Centres play a central role in this process through community engagement and empowering communities to find ways to address their own aspirations and concerns.
“We are calling on our political leaders to make a 100-day-in-government commitment if elected to adopt the 4 Point Plan outlined in the LCSA 2019 NSW State Election Policy Platform and to work with us to achieve the policy outcomes we are recommending.”
To find out more about NCOSS, visit: www.ncoss.org.au
To find out more about LCSA, visit: www.lcsansw.org.au
To read the LCSA’s 4 Point Plan and policy recommendations, visit: LCSA 2019 NSW State Election Policy Platform