Wallan Neighbourhood House is nominated in the 2023 Community Achievement Awards for Victoria, which celebrate individuals, communities and businesses throughout Victoria.
Wallan Neighbourhood House has been operating since September 1983 to deliver programs to the community when it first started from the Wallan old library.
Manager and coordinator Pauline Cornish started volunteering at the neighbourhood house about 25 years ago.
Prior to her coordinating role, when the future of the house was unclear, Ms Cornish was called to return after taking a step away to support her family.
She was voted in as treasurer to help turn around the neighbourhood house’s direction.
“For me, [the deb ball at Wallan Bowls Club] is a highlight. That turned the neighbourhood house around, that turned into getting out of debt, and getting on track again,” Ms Cornish said.
Ms Cornish has been at the house since its changed buildings, when they lobbied three tiers of government and moved in its current space in 2009.
The house has become known for its lifestyle programs and events alongside wider industry groups and associations, especially its apprentice program that Ms Cornish introduced 15 years ago to give students a head start.
“They’re treated as part of the team, they’re the same as everyone else. We’re all the same, we’re all the team – they become part of the team,” she said.
“They help us as well, they bring all the young ideas … they have to balance everything, they miss out on a school day a week, so they have to balance their schoolwork and their modules.
“They do a great job … with their balancing act, and especially during COVID.”
Ms Cornish said each day at the house was different, with new challenges to face.
“Since I’ve been involved in the neighbourhood house it’s taught me a lot of things, it’s taught me a lot more life things … it has helped me with a lot of things – it’s just amazing, I can’t describe it.
“I love the community, the people and the programs and everything we have in there. All the people, the community and you can help people, and they help you as well. You can have a coffee and a chat – it just brings people together.”
Judging is on October 11 with winners announced at an awards presentation on December 1.