Community building NATIONAL NETWORk

A NATIONAL NETwork of community builders



Neighbourhood Power
is an initiative of the City of Wodonga in north east Victoria. It is a practical exercise in devolving power to neighbours that deserves to be replicated in communities around Australia.

Tracey Farrant coordinates Neighbourhood Power in Wodonga. This is how she describes the project:

"Imagine a city that is rich with neighbourhoods  – I:\Community Development\Community Planning\Neighbourhood Power\Project Management\Website\Photos\Tree Planting.JPGParents help each other with child minding, potluck dinners on Friday nights, at a different house each week. Families take turns at updating the neighbourhood notice boards with local birthdays, activities and bits of news. A street that owns a set of pink plastic flamingo’s that turn up in a different front yard each week and children make great detours walking to school to include this street in the journey because it’s so  much fun finding the flamingos. Adults and teenagers working together to fix the neighbourhood children’s broken bikes. Young people giving impromptu concerts in local parks on weekends.

In Wodonga, we acknowledge that the potential for this fantastic picture already exists within the imagination, skills and capacities of our local neighbourhoods.

But instead of the traditional approach of “harnessing” all this potential and “leading” our people forward, Neighbourhood Power is putting the leadership and power firmly back into the hands of our residents. It’s up to our residents to come forward with their visions and dreams and plans – our role is to walk along side our community people and act as guide, enabler, facilitator and capacity builder. Quite a different approach!

One of the key tools to this new development approach is our matching grants scheme. The concept of matching grants is acknowledging that communities are full of fantastic assets, skills and talents.  With a few dollars, and courage on council’s behalf to get out of the way and let people get on with their own projects, not only does the city get infrastructure and community development outcomes, but also improved relationships, real community ownership of the city and a higher level of democratic involvement.

What is a matching grant?

To qualify for a matching grant, a group of neighbours come up with a project, request a grant, and match the grant dollars with a contribution of their own.

For example, 4 neighbours decide that there are a number of new people in their area that they don’t know. They get together one Saturday afternoon and plan a bbq event...They can apply for up to $x from the matching fund to supply food, entertainment, decorations etc.

This same concept works for activities such as playground upgrades, traffic calming activities, environmental projects, public art projects. The list is as long as the imagination.

We are thinking long term with this project and so have also developed a young neighbour fund to build and motivate the interest of young people in civic engagement. The fund provides funding for young people to receive education, training or mentoring that will give them the skills and confidence to participate in their local neighbourhood.

We have received some great advice and support from Jim Diers from the Department of Neighbourhoods in Seattle and are motivated and enthusiastic about growing this program into a way of life in Wodonga."


We would like to hear from individuals and organisations around the country interested in pressing their municipality to introduce Neighbourhood Power.

Our aim is to get 50 local councils across the country to take up Neighbourhood Power.

Further information will be posted in the members section of the Community Building National Network, including resources and contacts for people sharing this interest and wanting to work together.

Register your interest in participating by using the form below.Community Building National Network

Further information:

Vern Hughes
03 9824 4713

Registration Form



Phone  (bh)     Phone (ah) 



  I would like to participate in Neighbourhood Power in my community.

  I would like to participate in a campaign to get 50 local councils
(including mine) to take up Neighbourhood Power.


Tell us about yourself and your interests


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