Two peak bodies are calling for the next State Government to renew investment in neighbourhood centres such as South Eastern Community Connect.

Such 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.

NSW Council of Social Service (NCOSS) and the Local Community Services Association (LCSA) are concerned that reforms to the child protection system will mean neighbourhood centres will have to shift their focus to these families and children, which leaves other groups vulnerable.

NCOSS CEO Joanna Quilty says communities trust neighbourhood centres because of their unique focus on such things as youth programs, English language classes, volunteer home visiting, financial counselling and mental health groups.

Staff and volunteers help out at South Eastern Community Connect’s 40th Anniversary event.

NCOSS and the LCSA are calling for greater investment in this social infrastructure.

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,” Yasmut says.

“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.”

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