As you are aware in 2017 the Queensland Council of Social Service (QCOSS) collaborated with the Queensland Families and Communities Association (QFCA) to consult with neighbourhood and community centres across Queensland. This work, commissioned by the then Department of Communities, Child Safety and Disability Services (DCCSDS), was designed as an input to the Investment Management Standard (IMS), which is the Department’s preferred process for directing resources and achieving best outcomes for investment in program areas.
Engagement with neighbourhood and community centres explored current service offerings and relationships and tested the relevance of original program modelling against the contemporary context and community challenges. The unique offering of neighbourhood and community centres and the value you provide to individuals, communities and government were also explored.
Key objectives of the consultation were to:
- capture and articulate the value of neighbourhood centres
- understand the complexity of neighbourhood centre work
- understand regional influences on the program model
- identify key themes across neighbourhood centres
- seek input into a future funding approach.
Thank you for sharing your stories and knowledge with such generosity and honesty. The data and stories collated describe so well the current operating environment and practices of neighbourhood and community centres and provided a clear collective vision for the future of the sector. It also highlighted the current and chronic underfunding of the centres and the associated risk this creates.
The final report was then a key input into the IMS process conducted by the Department. There were three recommendations to come from this work:
- Review the program model and increase annual statewide funding to Neighbourhood and Community Centres from $15million to $30million.
- Expand the Community Connect Worker trial to add capacity to Neighbourhood and Community Centres.
- Address infrastructure inequities across premises, building maintenance arrangements and information technology.
Last week the Hon Coralee O’Rourke, Minister for Communities, Disability Services and Seniors announced new funding for Queensland neighbourhood and community centres through the Thriving Queensland Community Grants. This one-off grant program of $550,000 will enable neighbourhood and community centres to apply for grants of between $2,000 and $10,000 to hold events, link with community and/or purchase equipment.
QCOSS and QFCA welcomes this announcement and acknowledges Minister O’Rourke’s commitment to neighbourhood and community centres and place-based responses in Queensland.
This commitment however does not address the current underfunding of neighbourhood and community centres so you can adequately:
- meet the increasing demand for services;
- provide safe working environments for staff; and
- support the Queensland communities you are there to serve.
In line with the recommendations of the IMS process, the QCOSS 2018 Budget Priority Statement calls for an increase to neighbourhood and community centre annual funding from $15 million to $30 million to be implemented over three years. This is funding that is needed to enable these centres to continue to support outcomes for individuals and communities.
Like the Minister, we know that neighbourhood and community centres are essential place-based social infrastructure in Queensland that make valuable contributions to individuals and their communities across the state. QCOSS and QFCA will continue to advocate to see the centres adequately resourced so as to best support the communities and individuals you serve.
Mark Henley Tomas Passeggi