History of ANHCA
The Australian Neighbourhood Houses & Centres Association (ANHCA) was originally incorporated as the Collective of the National Link of Neighbourhood Houses and Community Learning Centres (known as National Link) in 1986 to develop a national identity for Neighbourhood Houses and Community Learning Centres, to facilitate the exchange of information and support among the Neighbourhood Houses in each state and to promote Neighbourhood Houses at the national level.
National Link grew from an informal association of state wide organisations representing neighbourhood houses and community based learning centres which first came together in 1986. Little happened with National Link for about 3 years until a National Conference was held in Queensland in 1989.
This same year National Link received a modest grant of $8,000 from the National Agenda for Women Grants Program through the Office of the Status of Women to employ a worker and conduct a subsequent national conference. The grant also enabled National Link to become incorporated in February 1990 under the Victorian Associations Act. The constitution adopted provided for a collective management structure with the business of the Association being conducted by a secretariat made up of a representative from each State and ratified through general meetings. The 1990 conference was held in Adelaide where the first National Link Annual Report was presented.
National Link received funding from the National Agenda for Women Grants Program from the Office of the Status of Women for the next three years (1991, 1992 & 1993). Over these years, National Link was able to support three National Neighbourhood House Weeks, conduct four National Annual Conferences, hold quarterly meetings of the National Link Secretariat, conduct bi-monthly teleconferences, circulate a national newssheet and provide support to Neighbourhood House state associations.
Loss of this funding after 1994, along with paucity of resources and changing staff at the state peak level limited National Link’s activities for a number of years – with bi-monthly teleconferences and an annual face to face meeting continuing to be its principal activities.
Despite the lack of funding, after conducting a national competition, National Link officially launched its first logo in 1995. The logo was promoted extensively and made into large metal signs which now still adorn the outside of many Neighbourhood House and Centre buildings across Australia.
At the annual meeting in Tasmania in 2002 a renewed commitment to the future of National Link was made by the state peak and representative organisations. A strategic plan was developed together with a vision for its future that stated:
National Link values community development. It is an active and respected national body, valued by its constituency. National Link is united and inclusive, offering professional development and shared resources. It operates as a responsible, accountable and sustainable organisation.
A strategic action plan was developed and agreed to at each subsequent face-to-face meeting with 6 weekly teleconferences held between state & territory personnel to monitor its progress. Although increased resources at state levels enabled more activity for National Link, the lack of core funding and no national worker continued to limit the achievement of all goals in the plan. Never-the-less, National Link with the state & territory peaks drove a number of initiatives, including:
• continuing to coordinate the annual National Neighbourhood House week;
• supporting ANHLC (Victoria) to pursue DGR status for the whole sector;
• and debating and discussing at length a new national brand.
The formal adoption of a new name – The Australian Neighbourhood Houses & Centres Association (ANHCA) – and a new constitution took place in early 2009. This constitution now sees the National Board elected from its State and Territory member organisations. This time also signalled an even stronger commitment from the state & territory organisations leading to the commitment of resources to employ a national worker.
The vision and purposes of ANHCA have remained the same over its 25 year history and today ANHCA continues to be a vital national voice for the NH&C sector.