On 10 May I represented the Minister for Housing, who is also the Minister for Local Government and minister responsible for neighbourhood houses in the other place, in opening the extension of the Hamilton community house. It was a joyous event, attended by Mr Koch, a member for Western Victoria Region, Mr Delahunty, the member for Lowan in the other place, and many locals.
Many of us know the importance of neighbourhood houses in embedding a sense of community and translating that into something tangible and meaningful into a local community. In May last year the Department for Victorian Communities conducted a survey which highlighted a number of key factors within the electorate that I represent.
In just one year the combined 27 neighbourhood houses in the Barwon South region supported 23 800 volunteer shifts, they were used by 236 200 participants and 30 560 people dropped in to them.
The neighbourhood houses are highly utilised places where people feel comfortable to be able to learn skills, volunteer their services, receive help, and gain referrals; and they provide a venue for regular and ad hoc social gatherings. None of us can underestimate of the worth of neighbourhood houses and the layers of positive and social economic empowerment they provide each and every community. I wish Debra King, Beverly McCallum and all volunteers in Hamilton well in utilising their new space.