The concept for a Neighbourhood House was first identified in 1992 in the Portarlington/Indented Head Structure Plan, then again in 2005, and again in 2006 when the City of Greater Geelong sought funding for a Virtual Community Learning Exchange.
However it was at the Community Opportunity Workshop organised by the Community Building Initiative in 2007, that the NH was one of five projects (neighbourhood house, ferry service, better bus services, community health centre, old age facility) identified by the Portarlington Community. From this work the PNH project team was formed, consisting of 18 community members. This team was acknowledged at the 2022 AGM and is recognised by a plaque in the PNH foyer containing the following original project team member names.
PNH Project Team 2007
Robert Bain Marie Baggiee Anne Brackley
Jackie Cavicchioli Pat Crotty Maria Cuda
Lois Davey Pam Edwards Alex Eagleson
Catherine Eagleson Lesley Gordon Tina Grimes
Linette Harriott Catherine Hearse Athalie Moss
Lorraine Stokes Michelle Verso Heather Williams
Many surveys of community needs were undertaken by the group – the community told them they wanted (1) a library, and a place where you could (2) attend educational and training programs and (3) meet others.
The group had established a relationship with the Committee at the Senior Citizens Centre, which involved shared use of their buildings by way of an MOU and a Hire Agreement for certain periods of time each week, and a small space was found in the Centre for a Neighbourhood House office. Initially the PNH was auspiced by Springdale Neighbourhood Centre until it became incorporated in 2008, and the Project Team became the first Portarlington Neighbourhood House Committee of Management.
In November 2008, members of the Arlington Masonic Lodge asked PNH to become tenants at the premises in Brown Street. Much work was undertaken, and eventually Portarlington Neighbourhood House (PNH) was officially opened by The Hon. Lisa Neville MP, member for Bellarine, in August 2009. It was to remain in those premises until the conclusion of its 10-year lease.
During this time, Sue Wilson, who had originally been a member of the Community Building Initiative Team, joined the committee, and was to become a long-standing (nine years) and hardworking President of PNH.
In September 2019, PNH moved to Parks Hall under a sub-lease agreement between Bellarine Bayside and the City of Greater Geelong. In March 2020, PNH celebrated its 10th anniversary. A speech was delivered by long-term member Jenny Macaulay, and the Hon. Lisa Neville was again in attendance, assisting the then-President Marg Jucker in the cutting of a cake.
Parks Hall is a shared space, and while most activities are those conducted by PNH, the House collaborates with other groups who also use the space for large community events and festivals.
In 2022, the City of Greater Geelong took over ownership of Parks Hall from Bellarine Bayside, and a new lease will be negotiated with PNH. What the future enhanced premises of PNH will look like is currently the subject of a Community Facilities Scoping Survey funded by the City of Greater Geelong.
The Portarlington Neighbourhood House would not exist without the work of its staff, volunteers and Committee of Management. While members of this voluntary committee have come and go over the years, it has always been steered by a succession of tireless Presidents, as listed below. PNH is ever thankful to them for their energy and vision.
Presidents of Portarlington Neighbourhood House
2008: Linette Harriott / Robert Bain 2016: Sue Wilson
2009: Lorraine Stokes 2017: Sue Wilson
2010: Lorraine Stokes 2018: Sue Wilson
2011: Sue Wilson 2019: Sue Wilson
2012: Sue Wilson 2020: Marg Jucker
2013: Sue Wilson 2021: Marg Jucker
2014: Sue Wilson 2022: Margaret Belfrage
2015: Sue Wilson 2023: Margaret Belfrage
is welcome to come along and take a seat, to connect with others, learn new skills and enjoy being part of the community.
'Rainbow Lorikeet in Silver Banksia' (Artist Sai Neoh). Funded by a Healthy & Connected Communities Grant 2021, CoGG