Last week we had a big community powered win with an historic increase in funding for Neighbourhood Community Centres. Thanks to you and thousands of other Queenslanders the State Government is delivering $21.9 million additional funding this year, part of a $125.6 million package over 4 years.
The key points are:
- Community centre base operation funding will be raised to $230,000 per year for each of 127 funded centres – starting today 1st July 2022. Up from median rate of $124,600.
This is a $51.8M increase to baseline funding over 4 years! And that is ongoing money locked into the budget.
We will see Neighbourhood and Community Connect Workers expanded from 12 sites to 20, and also made ongoing. That’s another $9.3M for the areas of greatest need.
- And there is $39M for the construction of 6 new neighbourhood and community centres over the next 4 years (plus the two recently announced at Rockhampton and Yarrabilba).
This matters because it allows community centres to get on with the job of delivering services, building community and forming identity. Instead of scraping for every dollar to keep the lights on they will be able to play a more sustainable role as a key solution that addresses diverse issues such as social isolation, domestic and family violence, discrimination and building community resilience.
This will make a real difference in the lives of average community members, and our most vulnerable people. Sandra Elton’s impassioned story and plea last year delivered to the Deputy Premier at our Assembly sums up so well why this matters.
Community centres have been asking for funding changes like these for decades. Through our Alliance’s organising since 2020 we have built the people power to make this historic investment a reality.
It has gone from a fringe issue of one interest group, to a whole-of-community issue prosecuted by churches, Islamic groups, ethnic associations, unions and community organisations. It has come to the centre of politics and government with the Premier and Deputy Premier engaging and responding directly in public negotiations at our assemblies. They committed in-principle to this funding increase, and now they have delivered.
Over the last two years we have held meetings with Minister Leeanne Enoch and her office, met dozens of local MPs with unusual partners from across their electorates, held local assemblies and actions outside their offices, and sent 3500 postcards to MPs asking them to support our budget priorities. And we've aligned joint efforts with Neighbourhood Centres Queensland and QCOSS, including joint budget asks this year.
Our other key strategy was to link this issue to our Social Isolation and Loneliness agenda. In 2020 we won a commitment for a Parliamentary Inquiry into Social Isolation and Loneliness, building on our local organising on this issue in Mt Gravatt. One of the explicit purposes of this proposal was to elevate the stories and needs of neighbourhood and community centres as a key solution.
Last year the Parliamentary Inquiry was set up, chaired by Member for Mansfield Corrine McMillan who has been an ally since the start. This created the opportunity for dozens of community centres to share their work and their stories (supported by Neighbourhood Centres Queensland), and for Alliance member organisations to share why this change matters for every community member.
We recognise the important leadership of Minister Enoch who has shepherded a process to achieve this outcome, and has ultimately delivered a record investment. We're looking forward to continuing to work together with Minister Enoch on a full state-wide whole-of-community strategy to address social isolation.
Thousands of people have taken action through the Alliance on this issue and that is what has shifted the needle. But underpinning that is a core group of Alliance leaders who have driven this work - we particularly recognise community centre leaders Karen Dare, Gillian Marshall, Deb Crompton, Sandra Elton, Roger Marshall, plus Rev Brian Hoole and Rev Russell Morris (Uniting Church), and Paula Rogers and Daniel Prentice (Qld Nurses and Midwives Union).
Now is a great time to build on this win by taking action together on other issues too. You can join local action to be part of organising for affordable healthy food and an accessible pool in Inala, addressing insecure work in Logan, a fair economic transition in Gladstone, exploring a new Alliance in Townsville or educating migrant communities and tackling social isolation across Qld.
Well done! And let's keep working together for a better, fairer Queensland.
Yours in Community,