Next Network meeting is on 8th September 2016

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News from the Network

In this edition:

Ed's Chair at Birallee Neighbourhood House Community Garden
Mt Beauty NC's Cafe provided a delicious Christmas lunch for Network members last November.

Member news

Abundance at Birallee

Birallee Neighbourhood House in Wodonga have been quietly developing an amazing community project, "From our garden to the kitchen", funded by the Commonwealth Department of Social Services.


Birallee has been developing a community garden over a number of years, and has built several new beds through the project. Each bed is managed by individuals and community groups, who grow vegetables to suit their own needs.

The project has also funded improvements such as cement pathways, making the gardens accessible to everyone. 

Birallee also grows their own vegetables and herbs that volunteers then harvest and prepare nutritious meals that are frozen into portions, ready for distribution to those experiencing hardship through ill health, economic circumstance, grief or other trauma.

"We are a small Neighbourhood House that provides support, information and educational opportunities for individuals and families in the Wodonga area. We aim to address social injustices and cater for diverse and minority groups, by maintaining and establishing new links with community social agencies and networks, and assisting with community problems in an informal, familiar and supportive setting."
Birallee is a great source of experience and information for anyone in our Network who is interested in setting up a community garden, or developing a food program. Get in touch with Amanda or Sue on (02) 6059 2590 and check out their Facebook page.

Social enterprise at Mt Beauty

Mt Beauty Neighbourhood Centre has been very successful in developing their cafe as a social enterprise. The cafe is open for lunch on Thursdays and Fridays, as well as providing catering for local events. Last year they catered for 200 people at the Alpine Shire Youth Awards, using mainly volunteers.

Social enterprises provide a revenue stream that is not connected with government funding; many social enterprises also provide opportunities for education and training within a working environment. They can also bring people into the organisation that wouldn't come in otherwise.

Check out Mt Beauty NC's snappy new website for more information about the cafe, or contact Trish Dixon on (03) 5754 1166.

YCC's events take off

Yackandandah Community Centre received a grant through the Foundation for Rural & Regional Renewal (FRRR) to run a series of facilitated forums on a range of key community issues.

The first forum in June covered drugs, and more specifically the use of ICE, and attracted plenty of interest from the community. There was a very thought-provoking speaker (Senior Sergeant Tony Francis from Geelong Police) and some great discussion. Other forum topics include domestic violence and suicide and its prevention. Click here for more information about the next forum.


Baranduda reopens

With their renovations finally completed, Baranduda Community Centre re-opened its doors in May. Coordinator, Kathy Cohalan, has moved back to the centre and is starting to get some exciting new programs happening. 

In June, Baranduda CC held their first AGM to appoint a new advisory committee for the centre. The new committee members come from varied backgrounds and community networks. They will help guide the centre on developing quality programs and building on community events. 


Tallangatta Neighbourhood Centre reborn

Tallangatta has been without a Neighbourhood House for quite some time. The good news is that the newly built Tallangatta Integrated Community Centre will be the new home of the Neighbourhood House, providing facilities such as a commercial kitchen, and located next door to the new library. 

Lou Newman was appointed in May as Council's Community Development Officer. Lou's role includes coordination of the Neighbourhood House. She's been proactive in visiting other Houses in the area, and looks forward to meeting other Coordinators at the next Network meeting in September. 

Trudewind Art and Craft Gallery open for business!

Last year Trudewind Rd NH decided that they would turn their foyer into an art and craft gallery so they can exhibit the growing amount of amazing work produced by Trudewind groups and classes.  After several false starts and problems, the project is close to completion.

With the help of the City of Wodonga Community Impact Grant and lots of support from volunteers, staff and committee, the foyer has been stripped of all the furniture and paraphernalia that filled it up, new lighting installed and a door and window has been sealed and re-plastered. Book shelving has been installed all around the walls to house the book exchange with art hanging tracks and wires on the walls above them.

Says Sue Lees, Trudewind Coordinator, "Our little social enterprise venture is ready to begin, with Trudewind exhibiting work for sale, in house and on-line on behalf of all our art and craft members. Come in and have a look!"

Wang houses receive Council funding

Thanks to tenacious lobbying by the Valleys to Rivers (V2R) partnership of Neighbourhood Houses in the Rural City of Wangaratta, the Council has allocated $5,000 to each of the three houses in the 2016/17 budget.  This is a remarkable effort in a time when the introduction of rate capping is leading to many councils around Victoria looking to cut funds to Houses.

The V2R partnership made several presentations to the Council Administrators and senior management. They were able to provide in-depth local insight and knowledge into social issues in RCOW, supported by the data collected as part of the annual NH survey.

The UMR Network has made lobbying local government a priority over the next 12 months. 

For the Committees

Collective Agreement

(From the NHVic website)
The Neighbourhood Houses and Adult Community Education Centres Collective Agreement 2010 has been renegotiated on behalf of the sector with staff represented by the Australian Services Union and the National Tertiary Education Union; and management committees/governance boards by employer bodies, Jobs Australia and ACEVic. NHVic facilitated the negotiation meetings and has been crucial in pulling the new Agreement together. 

Why consider signing on to the new Agreement?

The new Agreement will replace Awards and older versions of the Agreement (2007, 2008, and 2010). It aims to provide the best possible terms and conditions for staff balanced with the ongoing viability of the organisation. The Agreement also aims to be a key industrial relations resource for the sector. It is a more comprehensive document than the awards, which only refer to a specific range of matters, leaving employers with the responsibility of informing themselves and keeping up to date with a range of industrial legislation such as long service leave, superannuation and occupational health and safety requirements.

All Neighbourhood Houses and Networks, regardless of whether they are currently on awards or one of the older versions of the Agreement, will have the opportunity to sign on to the new version of the Agreement.

Negotiations have been completed, and the sign on process will commence very soon. Detailed instructions and related paperwork will be sent out from NHV. The timelines will be quite short, so committees need to ensure they are well informed, and have this matter on the agenda now.

You can find a copy of the draft agreement here. This draft is close to the finished version, and provides all the information you will need for Committee/Board discussion. You can also find a document here that lists all the changes from previous Agreements.

Good Governance Principles for Committees and Boards

Neighbourhood houses and Learn Locals may not be big profit-making entities, but by and large they are complex businesses, with a moderate to high level of risk associated with them. 

I am noticing more and more - in my role as a Networker, working on other projects, and my own role as Chair at The Centre for Continuing Education in Wangaratta - that the organisations that are thriving and most likely to be sustainable have a well-informed and engaged committee or board, and strong collaboration between the committee and the manager/coordinator. Centres where the committee is not engaged or informed, but are just a 'rubber stamp', are at much greater risk.

Being on the committee of a neighbourhood house means people need to have a good understanding of their role as a committee member, as well as having some understanding of the business of the centre. You are better to have a smaller committee made up of engaged, informed people than a large committee just to make up numbers.

The Australian Institute of Company Directors (AICD) have developed the Good Governance Principles and Guidance for Not-for-Profit organisations. They apply to any NFP, regardless of sector or size. 

Each principle will be summarised in our forthcoming newsletters. The full Guide can be found here

Principle 2: Committee/Board Composition

To be effective a committee needs the right group of people, with an appropriate mix of skills, knowledge and experience (e.g. professional backgrounds, sector experience, local community and business networks) that fits with your organisation's objectives and strategic goals. Committees which have an appropriate and diverse mix of skills and experience will be less likely to engage in “group think” or to have “blind spots” and they will be better equipped to deliver value and respond to challenges that may arise. It can be tempting to head-hunt new committee members that you believe will "fit in" with the rest of the committee; however, the risk is that the group will be unchallenged and become complacent, and not remain alert and aware of other - and potentially better ways - of doing business.  

So how diverse does your committee need to be? Committees should carefully consider what form and level of diversity is appropriate for their organisation’s circumstances. Ideally you will have a group of committee members that together comprise a range of skills and experience that will best assist your organisation achieving its goals. As such, personal qualities and behavioural skills are necessary considerations, as well as background and skills.

Some particular skills sets might include:
  • Strategic expertise – the ability to guide and review strategy through constructive questioning and suggestion.
  • Managing people and achieving change.
  • Accounting and finance – the ability to read and comprehend your accounts, financial material presented to the board and some understanding of the organisation’s financial drivers/funding and business model.
  • Legal – the committee's responsibility involves overseeing compliance with numerous laws as well as understanding an individual committee member's legal duties and responsibilities.
  • Managing risk – experience in identifying and managing organisational risk.
  • Specific NFP/neighbourhood house knowledge – passion for the cause, experience in similar organisations, sectors or industries.

Some committees use a skills matrix to identify what skills exist amongst their members. If this feels like it may be too much, it would still be valuable for committee members to think about and agree on the type of skills and personal qualities that will meet the organisation’s needs. It's also critical that committee members have a good understanding of the time commitment required for their committee role, and be able to give sufficient time and effort to the role to ensure they can deliver the benefits of their commitment and skills and effectively fulfil their legal duties and responsibilities.

Some questions for consideration
  • Is there a well-defined and transparent process for committee/board recruitment, including nomination and selection?
  • Has consideration been given to how the committee/board is composed (and/or refreshed)?
  • Are potential committee/board members able to commit the time required for their role?
  • Does your organisation have policies and procedures relating to the retirement or removal of committee/board members (eg limited tenure)?
Principle 2 will continue in the next newsletter, and cover the role of the Chair, and the relationship between the Chair and the Manager/Coordinator. 

Network update

The UMRNHN AGM was held in April. The new Committee is:
  • Chair: Ali Pockley (Yackandandah Community Centre)
  • Deputy Chair: Trish Dixon (Mt Beauty Neighbourhood Centre)
  • Treasurer: Karen Ramsay (Bandiana Neighbourhood House)
  • Secretary: Debbie Cooper (Yarrawonga Neighbourhood House)
  • Jude Doughty (Quercus Beechworth)
  • Amanda Crisp (Felltimber Community Centre)
  • Kathy Cohalan (Baranduda Community Centre)
A big thank you to retiring Committee members Sue Lees and Tanya Grant. It is great to see three new members step up into the committee role.

Upper Murray Regional NHN website was launched at the AGM. The website can be found here.

Attending AGMs is a great way for your Networker to get to know your House and your committee. Don't forget to add the Network Coordinator to your AGM invitation list. Click here - it's easy!


Ideas and innovations

How can you use technology to improve community engagement? 

"Studies show that a community's sense of belonging is directly connected with their ability to understand and help shape the vision for their community. Increasingly, citizens are looking less to their elected representative to create change in their communities. They want to be involved in creating the change themselves. They want to be engaged."

This paper by Lisa Attygalle discusses how new technologies are lending fresh perspectives and putting power back into the hands of communities. You can find it here.

Random Acts of Kindness - this is what "community" is all about! No act is too small or too big - pay for a coffee, help carry groceries, volunteer for a day or say hello to a neighbour. There's a RAK in Albury Wodonga -

Bequests to community houses - a group of neighbourhood houses in the Mallee area are considering developing a flyer that highlights the benefits of bequests for neighbourhood houses. Is this something you've considered promoting for your house? It is a way for people in the community to leave a lasting legacy after they have died.

Hackerspaces - are the latest in a long tradition of community spaces that offer opportunities for informal learning. Hackerspaces, sometimes called makerspaces or fablabs, are places where people gather to invent, create, learn, and support each other through creative DIY. These spaces are open to anyone who wants to work on DIY technology or creative projects. Check this website for more information.

Coming up

The next UMRNHN Network meeting is on 8th September - the venue is yet to be confirmed. On the agenda:

  • Member update - what have been the highlights and challenges for your centre? Share the highs and lows and debrief amongst colleagues who understand!
  • Collective Agreement - will we, won't we?
  • Presentation of Network data - how you can use this for your own marketing and lobbying
  • Supervision - do you have a formal supervision or mentoring arrangement? What are the benefits?
What ideas do you have for our November agenda? Click here to let me know.

ANHCA DGR webinar 

Having DGR status opens up your scope for fundraising, and to apply for philanthropic funds. But it's difficult to get DGR status for your own organisation. Neighbourhood Houses can now access this through the ANHCA Public Fund for DGR. 

The Australian Neighbourhood Houses and Centres Association (ANHCA) is holding a webinar on 16th August to help you understand more about the fund and what it offers.

Click here to find out more, and to register.

The Future of Communities: People to the People Conference

This event will be held 14-15 September, 2016 in Melbourne. Mark the dates of this popular annual Conference, jointly organised by the Municipal Association of Victoria and the Bank of I.D.E.A.S.

For more details contact Peter Kenyon (Bank of I.D.E.A.S.) or John Hennessy (MAV).


Learn Local Conference - Learning from the Past: Planning for the Future

Date: Tuesday 30th and Wednesday 31st August
Venue: Rydges Melbourne CBD, 186 Exhibition Street, Melbourne

This two-day conference will provide an opportunity for Learn Local organisations to reflect and share the successes of the sector, network and participate in professional development opportunities. 

The conference is funded by the ACFE Board and is designed to support and develop the work of Learn Local organisations. Featuring a keynote presentation by Mr Peter Kenyon, the engaging program will focus on the theme; Learning from the Past, Planning for the Future. Click here for more information.


Child Safe Standards

Do you run programs for children at your centre?

Children have the right to feel safe and be protected from sexual, physical and emotional abuse. Victorian law requires organisations that work with children to meet the Child Safe Standards by 1 January 2017.

The Commission for Children and Young People can help organisations to meet the Child Safe Standards and create a culture of child safety. To help, they have produced a suite of resources, including a guide and tip sheets.  Click here to find out more.


Neighbourhood House Coordination Program Guidelines 2016-2019 and sector information

Have you downloaded your copy of the new NHCP Guidelines? You can find them here.


AGM coming up?

You can find some quick tips from the ACNC on running your AGM here.

Collective Impact

Collective Impact is a framework to tackle deeply entrenched and complex social problems. It is an innovative and structured approach to making collaboration work across government, business, philanthropy, non-profit organisations and citizens to achieve significant and lasting social change. 

Neighbourhood Houses are in an ideal position to take up the Collective Impact framework because they:
  • are independent
  • are close to their community
  • have strong community networks
  • receive recurrent funding (NHCP)
To find out more about Collective Impact, click here.

Our mailing address is:
628 Upper Ryans Creek Road
Upper Ryans Creek, VIc, 3673

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