Proposed amalgamation of Bellingen and Urunga Neighbourhood Centres

Bellingen and Urunga Neighbourhood Centres are excited to announce that their organisations are seeking to amalgamate.

The purpose of the proposed amalgamation is to strengthen community services and projects across our shire and to better position the neighbourhood centres and our other services to secure additional funding.

Bellingen Neighbourhood Centre Inc and Urunga Neighbourhood Centre Incorporated are local membership-based community organisations. Each organisation is formally governed by a separate management committee of volunteers who reside in the shire. The organisations currently share various resources including a manager and a book-keeper. The management committees also meet jointly every second month.

Both play a vital role in generating community connection and wellbeing. Urunga Neighbourhood Centre Incorporated auspices the Urunga Men's Shed and manages Bellingen Shire's mobile resource playgroup service and the neighbourhood centre in Urunga, which provides access and assistance to link people with the help they need and offers a venue for outreach services and community groups and activities.

Bellingen Neighbourhood Centre Inc manages the Bellingen Centrelink Agency, Bellingen Shire Youth Services, Dorrigo Youth Centre and the Bellingen Shire No Interest Loan Scheme in addition to its core project, the neighbourhood centre in Bellingen. The centre facilitates emergency relief and enables people who are experiencing financial difficulty to pay off their fines by participating in specific approved activities.

The existing neighbourhood centre buildings will remain in use and continue to deliver important services and facilitate community development activities and events under the new structure. Both management committees are extremely positive about the proposed unification and are working closely together to ensure that the new structure will benefit the whole community.

President of UNC Inc, Bernadette Kelly, says "I think the proposed merger makes a lot of sense because it will provide shire residents with access to more programs and activities. We will be much more likely to continue to attract government funding if we unite to create one organisation that covers the whole shire".

Currently the two organisations receive a separate mix of state and federal funding. However, future funding is becoming more and more precarious, as funding providers increasingly use complex assessment tools to determine whether small organisations have capacity to deliver community services and programs.

"The proposed amalgamation is a strategic move for our shire and for our organisations to help mitigate future funding challenges says Bellingen Neighbourhood Centre Inc's President, Kerry Child. "If we combine human and financial resources, we will be in a much better position to secure ongoing funds for our current operations and to more broadly serve communities across our shire".

Members of both organisations will formally vote on the amalgamation at their respective AGMs in late October.

For more information about the proposed amalgamation, contact Leanne Collier on 0429 778 706 or at bncunc2020@gmail.com