Funding helps keep Docklands Neighbourhood House open
Docklands Neighbourhood House (DNH) has received some much-needed funding from the City of Melbourne to help it remain open until June.
The council has provided the pop-up community services provider with $20,000 after councillors agreed to the funding at a meeting on December 13.
The motion, which was unanimously supported by councillors, was moved by Docklands resident Cr Jamal Hakim and followed continued calls for support from The Centre – the not-for-profit organisation behind DNH – during the second half of 2022.
While The Centre had sought $50,000 to continue running its services, which was supported by a community-led petition, the council’s injection of $20,000 is enough to help see it through in Docklands until June.
In seconding the motion, Cr Dr Olivia Ball thanked The Centre’s director Ariel Valent and his team for the work they had been doing in Docklands.
“The neighbourhood house movement is incredibly important to our community and the investment we put into it pays enormous dividends and achieves multiple of our policy objectives, because neighbourhood houses connect people, create communities, and reduce isolation,” she said.
“They are diverse, multicultural, grassroots organisations where people can meet, organise, mobilise, solve problems, educate one another, meet their needs and plan for the future and for improving the world.”
“It does all of these things, and these things need to happen in all of our communities, and, of course, in Docklands.”
In discussing the importance of the funding, Cr Dr Ball also acknowledged that it was indeed a “stopgap measure”.
While welcoming the funding, which will help DNH operate three days a week led by its “dedicated” community development officer Jason Butcher and community facilitator Dhanya Nair, Mr Valent said the team was already in talks about how it could survive long term.
“This funding is vital for the next six months, although it doesn’t address the need to establish Docklands Neighbourhood House as an ongoing entity with a long-term future,” Mr Valent said.
We are in positive discussions with both the City of Melbourne, state government and other potential funders about the steps beyond the current timeframe of June.
“Thanks to all the members of the community that advocated for the continuation of Docklands Neighbourhood House. Your voices made a tangible difference, and we may be calling on you again in the coming months.”
The community campaign has underscored the importance of DNH among Docklanders, and Mr Butcher said it would be focusing on expanding and building on its programs from last year.
While unable to host the “big marquee-style events”, he said DNH was determined to focus on what it could build for, and with, the community.
“It’s about building on those grassroots activities, because this is what led to the community coming forward and standing up for us, so we want to build on those and continue to give people that sense of co-ownership,” he said.
“We are so grateful that there are community members advocating for us and it’s a real practical demonstration that we are reaching the community and they are becoming involved.” •