The idea for a woman’s neighbourhood house came from the City of Northcote Recreation Policy 1983. The Policy identified that there was little support for women in the community, whether they be newly arrived migrants or stay at home mums. Any funding for recreation was focused primarily on funding male dominated sporting groups.
After investigation the City of Northcote felt the best way forward in engaging both women and the increasingly multicultural growth of the area was the establishment of a Women’s Neighbourhood House. It was to be a service by women for women.
In 1985 the City of Northcote and the State Government jointly purchased a property at 131 Shaftsbury Parade Thornbury for use as a neighbourhood house. The neighbourhood house was officially opened on 7 December 1985.
In 1986 Ursula Harrison became the house’s first coordinator, a role she would hold for the next 27 years. Early courses offered included creative writing, crafts and cookery. As the Neighbourhood House established itself it began to reach into other areas, including providing assistance to migrant groups and tackling difficult social issues like family violence.
In the early 1990s funding issues hit the Neighbourhood houses hard. State Government funding was drastically cut and the Neighbourhood houses were forced to compete with each other. There as further changes to funding in 2011 which forced even further rationalisation of services. In 2016 the Thornbury Women’s Neighbourhood House joined with the Preston Neighbourhood House to create a strong management strTucture moving forward.
With over thirty years of service, the Thornbury Women’s has a proud history of supporting and empowering the local community. It has laid the foundations for continuing support into the future.