MERNDA’S capacity to host events and support its multicultural community got a boost last week when Minister for Multicultural Affairs Ros Spence announced $100,000 in funding to extend Mernda Community House.

The house, operated by Whittlesea Community Connections, is part of the North East Neighbourhood House Network – a group dedicated to supporting community diversity and inclusion.

The extension will include the construction of a new kitchen and shared meals area, accessible toilets and two community meeting and work spaces, which will be used for programs and training.

Ms Spence said the extension would help create a unique meeting space for multicultural communities once COVID-19 social distancing restrictions were eased.

“Our government recognises the invaluable social, economic and cultural contributions of our multicultural communities. These facility upgrades allow multicultural communities to meaningfully celebrate, preserve and share their traditions,” she said.

Member for Yan Yean Danielle Green said the funding would improve Mernda Community House’s facilities while creating jobs.

“With the City of Hume and the City of Whittlesea being so hard hit by this pandemic, there is going to be a real challenge to maintain community connectedness,” she said.

“Neighbourhood houses will have such an important role, particularly for our women and our young people who have been disproportionately impacted in their employment.”

Whittlesea Community Connections chief executive Alex Haynes said the funding represented how important Mernda Community House was to residents.

“We were funded leading up to the last election to create the house, and the fact that we’ve already outgrown it and need more space really highlights the need in our community for this sort of thing,” she said.

“It is going to be a fantastic resource for the Mernda multicultural community and allow us to grow.”

Ms Haynes said the house would host a virtual multicultural dinner party via Zoom on Saturday night, with dancing, music and comedy throughout the event.

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