Neighbourhood Centre Week, happening 9-15 May, celebrates the role and impact of neighbourhood and community centres in local communities across Australia.
In Queensland, this year’s theme is ‘Local Community Resilience’. The theme highlights the importance of local approaches, relationships and knowledge that is central to the approach of centres and vital to effectively support communities as they respond to community challenges. The theme also celebrates the exceptional resilience of communities that have faced multiple disasters and continue to work toward their recovery.
To celebrate, neighbourhood and community centres are inviting their communities to come together and attend free events over the week. There are 143 centres in Queensland, and locals who have never visited their local centre are welcomed to find their centre using the ‘Find a Centre’ map available at www.ncq.org.au/find-a-centre, and contact their local centre to find out more about events they can attend.
Among the many events over the week, the Marlin Coast Neighbourhood Centre is holding a Community Fun Day with a sausage sizzle, music and activities on Saturday 7 May. Childers Neighbourhood Centre is hosting an open day at their centre from 9am on Monday 9 May, where everyone is invited to learn about the programs offered by the centre, the events and activities held throughout the year, meet staff and enjoy a free morning tea. The Neighbourhood Hub in Mackay is holding a Human Library event on Tuesday 10 May, where attendees can ’borrow’ and connect with a ‘Human Book’ about their life. Deception Bay Neighbourhood Centre is holding a morning tea event and fundraiser for the Cancer Council at Deception Bay Community Hall on Wednesday 11 May.
Em James, CEO of the state’s peak body Neighbourhood Centres Queensland (NCQ), said they were proud of the impact of centres in their local communities.
“Neighbourhood Centres provide connection, belonging, participation and inclusion for 1.6million Queenslanders a year”, Em stated. “During the recent floods this year, many centres also opened their doors and became buzzing hubs of local information and support. Centres are there when disasters hit and will be there for a long time after because they have created ongoing local ties. I think everyone can agree this type of remarkable community resilience and recovery is worth celebrating.”
“Neighbourhood and community centres are vital, locally-led social infrastructure that responds to the needs and strengths of the community they are embedded within. Our 2021 Sector Impact Report shows the extraordinary and varied support they provide to their communities, including emergency food relief, emergency material relief, counselling and mental health support, emergency case coordination and referrals to specialist services. Neighbourhood Centre Week is a chance to come together and acknowledge the role of centres across the state of Queensland.”
Nicole Battle, President of the national peak body Australian Neighbourhood Houses and Centres Association, said this year’s Neighbourhood Centre Week theme was about re-emerging and rebuilding a harmonious and resilient community after the lockdowns that saw so many Australians isolated. “I am so proud to lead such a resilient, responsive and adaptive sector, made up of so many selfless and hardworking individuals,” Ms Battle said.
“Neighbourhood and community houses and centres have truly demonstrated their weight in gold over the past two and a half years. While so many other services closed during the lockdowns, Queensland neighbourhood centres in particular stepped up by providing 680 tonnes of emergency food relief, worth $13.6 million in value. The value of Queensland centres must not be underestimated, as for every $1 invested by the Queensland Government, the sector produces $4.81 in community value.”
Queensland’s recent Parliamentary Inquiry into Loneliness and Social Isolation emphasised the importance of Neighbourhood and Community Centres across the state. Em James stated, “Now as we begin to re-emerge from COVID-19 restrictions and the recent floods, we are looking to rebuild those strong social connections that many people lost, building a stronger, more resilient community than ever before.”
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