A 40-year community legacy

By Evie Drinnan

A group of local women created a lasting impact when they founded the New Farm Neighbourhood Centre (NFNC) 40 years ago.

They saw the need for a food co-op and set up the NFNC in Hawthorne St, before it moved to its current location three years later.

These days, the centre connects people to services and each other, runs a buy one, donate one coffee cart, and holds daily activities such as tennis, yoga and board games.

The NFNC is a place of universal access, and everyone is encouraged to visit.

The purpose of neighbourhood centres is to respond to general community need; however, disaster relief work often falls on them too, such as flood, frontline mental health and homelessness support.

While they have versatile skills, they often lack the funding and resources needed to do these issues justice.

NFNC Coordinator Miranda Woods said: “We are lucky because we don’t face much ‘not in my backyard’ mentality in New Farm. Those who are privileged want to support us.”

The Patrons of New Farm are a major donor to the NFNC, and Ms Woods encouraged people to join them, as their membership fees directly fund community organisations.

“We can make $100 go an incredibly long way, we could feed 50 people. We do it all the time,” she said.

Ms Woods has noticed a large increase in the number of people seeking help for homelessness and living costs, particularly people referred to as ‘new poor’ who have not needed support in the past.

“With the cost of living at the moment, people are paying $800 a week rent, which is $1,600 if you’re two weeks behind because something unexpected happened. There’s no service that has $1,600 for the number of people who need it,” she said.

“Back in the day when rent was $200, some services would be able to find $400 to keep someone in their home. People are in disbelief that it can all be taken away so quickly now.

“But it’s more about systemic change. We need to be asking why an unliveable property costs $800 a week…

“The biggest way you can support us is by buying our coffees. Ideally, we would have 25 people buy a coffee so we could give away 20 and keep the cost of the other five as donations. It’d be incredible,” Ms Woods said.

The NFNC 40th birthday celebrations will be held in 2026 to coincide with the 40th anniversary of their incorporation.

Ms Woods encouraged anyone who has NFNC stories or who has contributed to the NFNC in the past to share them via email to nfnc@communify.org.au.

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