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In the Welcoming Business

Grass roots organisations like Neighbourhood Houses are similar in structure to many incorporated associations, but their relevance comes from their uniquely place-based approach which is recurrently supported by the State Government.

This recurrent funding provides houses with some surety about income each year, enabling them to focus on understanding the diverse needs of their community and then on how to respond to that using existing resources, or via growth or partnerships.

How a House Operates

Each house in Victoria is led by a committee or board of governance, with a paid coordinator or manager, and a staff of contractors and volunteers.  Houses are funded for a set number of hours each week. 

Our Approach to Programming is Key

In Clunes we are funded to provided 30 hours of activity a week, but through an adaptive and distributive leadership approach to programming, we support activities that happen 7 days a week out of 6 different venues.

This approach to programming is critical to a Neighbourhood House’s capacity to contribute to the connections and liveability of a neighbourhood.  Armed with a strategic plan and principles that make it clear what a house is trying to achieve, and how they’ll go about it.  There are also guidelines and processes (often developed at a statewide level via the Neighbourhood House network – so are tried and true!) that help ensure the equitable, safe and sustainable implementation of activities or services via a Neighbourhood House.

In Clunes, our programming approach is informed by Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs.  Clunes Neighbourhood House’s vision is for a community able to care for all people and place.  We have three clear strategies we use to help contribute to this; focused on building the capacity for belonging, welcoming all people and reducing barriers. 

When it comes to programming activities, these strategies mean that we work closely with the many active and motivated people and groups in our town who want to share ideas, connect with others through shared interests or progress an idea that is of benefit to the town.  

Many of these activities are aimed at the higher levels of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs.  Clunes Neighbourhood House shares our resources through our community-led programming or auspice approaches to help cover the risk, provide venues or promote these opportunities.  That then means we can direct the bulk of our resources towards addressing barriers or gaps through the services deliver, or the projects we undertake.

Approach Builds Capacity and Sustainability

This approach is common across many Neighbourhood Houses.  While it’s inherently flexible allowing each community to respond as needed, to effectively cover risks it and ensure what is delivered is sustainable the processes that underpin it remain constant. 

If you are interested to see how Clunes does it, you can see our rationale and the processes – such as planning or promoting an event – on our website at

‘Stronger Together’ is not just the outcome of communities working together, it’s at the heart of how a House operates.  Welcoming everyone and helping community-led projects or activities to evolve as they mature isn’t always straight forward but it’s an exciting part of what Houses can do because of this adaptive and distributed approach to programming.

Did you know?

  • The Clunes Neighbourhood House committee includes Neil Newitt (President), Kira Annear (Vice President), Peter Chandler (Treasurer/Secretary), Fiona Patton, David Shields, Vik Bach and Sean Mc Laughlin

  • Clunes Neighbourhood House has supported more than 32 different community-led projects or activity programs in the last decade.  Many of these activities are still part this town’s social calendar today or have seeded ideas in other places. 

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