The pivotal role of Neighbourhood Houses in Carlton and beyond

The pivotal role of Neighbourhood Houses in Carlton and beyond

In an average week, around 200,000 Victorians step through the doors of a Neighbourhood House, seeking connection, learning, and support.

This figure, reflecting more than 10 million visits annually, underscores the indispensable role these centres play in our communities. Yet, despite their pivotal contribution, many remain unsung heroes in the public eye.

Neighbourhood Houses, including the Carlton Neighbourhood Learning Centre (CNLC), are more than just community centres; they are vibrant hubs of growth and connection. Tailored programs address diverse needs, from education and wellbeing to social inclusion, with each initiative designed to empower and uplift.

At the Carlton Neighbourhood Learning Centre (CNLC), diverse programs like Alive and Active transform lives of people with disability, illustrating the unique impact of Neighbourhood Houses.

Denys, a refugee from the Ukraine, credits CNLC for his new start in Australia, encapsulating their transformative power.

In times of crisis, such as operating as a “Cool Centre” during heat emergencies, their value is unmistakable.


Neighbourhood Houses are powered by the spirit of volunteerism, with 6940 volunteers weekly dedicating their time and skills. This volunteer effort, combined with the work of 5460 staff, not only supports community services but also contributes significantly to the local economy.


The sector’s ability to generate $6.80 of value for every dollar of funding received showcases its efficiency and the immense value it adds to the community.

After 15 months leading a Neighbourhood House it’s clear to me that their value can’t be replicated or duplicated. They reach people and groups of people that other organisations can’t and are perfectly positioned to assist local councils, governments, and philanthropic organisations to achieve outcomes in a wide range of areas.

Despite their critical contributions, Neighbourhood Houses face ongoing challenges, including funding constraints and the need for greater recognition. It is time for policymakers, leaders, and the public to rally behind these vital institutions.

Supporting Neighbourhood Houses is an investment in the heart and soul of our communities, an investment that yields immeasurable returns in wellbeing, social cohesion, and economic benefits. •

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