In mid 2005, the word spread that the Westerfield Drive Kindergarten and Long Day Care Centre was being amalgamated with other Kindergartens by its operator, Child and Family Care Network, onto a site on Ferntree Gully Road. A visit to Council staff by members of the Notting Hill Action Group, as it was called then, confirmed the Westerfield site would be vacant by mid 2006, and in all probability put up for sale for townhouse development.
As the Kinder site possesses one of the few, and the largest, play areas on the estate, several mothers of young children from the Action Group, arranged a meeting with firstly Don Cameron, then Andi Diamond, of Monash City Council to plead for the retention of the site for use by the community. Thankfully for Notting Hill residents and the wider community, Ms Diamond was able to grant our wish for a meeting place to call our own by late 2005.
Then came the brainstorming of how to make the best use of the site. Running classes and clubs seemed to be a good way to go, but none of the Action Group had experience in organising a Neighbourhood House, and as State Government funding wasn’t available for starting new Houses at that time, we weren’t sure how to proceed.
Enter Margaret Harris of Mulgrave Neighbourhood House. Following phone calls to several Neighbourhood houses in Monash to ask how each operated, contact was made with Mulgrave. Margaret’s enthusiasm for our venture, and expression of interest in helping set up this Centre by sharing her expertise, has brought our plans to fruition. By using Notting Hill’s community centre as an annex of Mulgrave’s House, we were able to gain experience in operating a Neighbourhood House. Best of all, the residents of Notting Hill and the wider community had access to a wide array of classes and interest groups in their local area.
Following on from the initial successful collaboration with Mulgrave, it was recently decided to reposition the Notting Hill Neighbourhood House as an annex of the Waverley Community Learning Centre.
Our overall goal is to use this community centre to bring people together, and build stronger community ties through shared fun and learning.
The House was opened in July 2007 by the Governor of Victoria, his
Excellency Professor David de Kretser. (Picture here with his wife and Marian from the Community Association at the microphone.)