Queenslanders will be able to access more services and supports at their local neighbourhood and community centres, with the state’s network of 127 government-funded centres to receive the single biggest funding increase as part of record funding in the 2022-23 State Budget.
Overall, the State Budget provides total additional funding of $125.6 million over four years to increase the delivery of vital community and social services for Queenslanders in need.
Minister for Communities and Housing Leeanne Enoch said the significant investment in neighbourhood and community centres of $115.8 million over four years in the State Budget meant that communities would be better supported with more services and supports and new and improved centres.
“Neighbourhood and community centres are the cornerstones of their communities,” Ms Enoch said.
“We’re delivering a record funding increase to our network of 127 government-funded neighbourhood and community centres, enabling them to hire more support staff and deliver more services for Queenslanders.
“It includes the greatest single increase in operational funding for neighbourhood and community centres, a rise of $51.8 million over four years, to lift the minimum base funding for existing government funded neighbourhood and community centres to $230,000 per annum, up from the current minimum of $124,000.
“What we’re announcing in the budget today will be life-changing for the thousands of Queenslanders who seek assistance at our neighbourhood and community centres every year – including people experiencing domestic and family violence, people at risk of or experiencing homelessness, First Nations Queenslanders, people with disability, people impacted by disasters and families in financial stress.”
Following a successful trial of 12 Community Connect Workers in neighbourhood and community centres, the Queensland Government will expand the program as part of the 2022-23 State Budget to 20 workers in select neighbourhood and community centres across the state.
“We want to build on the success of the Community Connect Workers program, so we’re investing an additional $9.33 million over four years to place 20 workers in even more of our neighbourhood and community centres,” Ms Enoch said.
“These workers will provide assistance to vulnerable people and families facing issues such as domestic and family violence, homelessness and financial stress, and connect them to other local services that can provide specialised supports to meet their needs.”
The State Budget includes an investment of $39 million to deliver new neighbourhood centres and make significant improvements to existing centres.
This is in addition to an existing commitment of $7.2 million to build two new neighbourhood centres in Rockhampton and Yarrabilba.
This year’s State Budget also includes investment of $29.8 million over four years to support initiatives to specifically assist young people experiencing or at risk of homelessness in Queensland.
Ms Enoch said the Queensland Government was committed to helping young Queenslanders experiencing or at risk of homelessness to find safe, secure and affordable housing.
“This significant funding commitment in the State Budget complements our efforts to assist young people to overcome challenges they might experience in obtaining housing and sets them on a pathway to achieve their social and economic independence,” she said.
“We know that the current rental market pressures and cost of living pressures are affecting many Queenslanders, with young people at increased risk of homelessness due to a range of factors including lower incomes and lack of rental history.
“Through the Queensland Housing and Homelessness Action Plan 2021-2025, we have committed to developing a policy and integrated framework of housing with support for young people in Queensland.
“We are currently working with young people with lived experience of homelessness and the housing and homelessness sector to understand the challenges faced by young people to inform opportunities and enhance our responses.”
The Palaszczuk Government is continuing to deliver the four-year $1.9 billion investment in social and affordable housing under the Housing and Homelessness Action Plan 2021-2025 announced last year – the largest concentrated investment in Queensland’s history.
The Action Plan is supported by a $1 billion Housing Investment Fund, a long-term fund with returns to drive new supply to support current and future social and affordable housing needs.
The 2022-23 State Budget includes $441.3 million for capital purchases and capital grants through the Queensland Housing Investment Growth Initiative to deliver new social homes and upgrade existing dwellings for vulnerable Queenslanders.
The State Budget also includes funding to underpin the Queensland Government’s response to the recent Parliamentary Inquiry into Social Isolation and Loneliness.
“We know this is a significant issue in Queensland and the recent Parliamentary Inquiry gave us valuable insight into the causes and possible solutions for social isolation and loneliness in our communities,” Ms Enoch said.
“In addition to delivering record funding to state-funded neighbourhood and community centres at the frontline of combatting social isolation and loneliness, the State Budget includes significant funding for us to begin to act on the recommendations out of this inquiry.
“This includes $4 million over four years for a new Innovation Fund, that will provide grants to support innovative community-led projects to address social isolation and loneliness in Queensland communities.
“We’re also investing $2.1 million to support the further development of plans and initiatives to address social isolation and loneliness, including development of training and resources to support workers and volunteers in the community and social services sector.”
Ms Enoch said this record funding demonstrated the Queensland Government’s commitment to support Queenslanders in need.
“We know that every dollar we invest in our community and social services sector will make a real difference in the lives of Queenslanders who need additional services and supports to overcome hardship,” she said.
“Our investment in the State Budget will make a real difference in improving the social and economic wellbeing of all Queenslanders.”
Other 2022-23 State Budget highlights for the Department of Communities, Housing and Digital Economy include $50 million over four years to support the delivery of Grow 2022-2026, the second action plan of the whole-of-government Creative Together 2020-2030: A 10-Year Roadmap for arts, culture and creativity in Queensland.