Mitcham Community House has been operating since late 1975, when a playgroup was the first activity arranged. At a meeting convened by the Nunawading Child Care Association in August 1975, it was brought to notice that Mountview Uniting Church had offered the use of Mountview House (property next to the church and used only at weekends) for community activities. Originally the house was to have been modified for use as a daycare centre for children, but they abandoned these plans after funding for such activities ceased in 1975.
Among those present at the original meeting was Paul Bucci, then the Community Recreation Officer for Nunawading Council. Mr Bucci was very keen to establish the House as a Neighborhood House and helped to get this idea off the ground. Questionnaires were printed and were deposited at various community locations (e.g. shops, schools, kindergartens, churches) and after two weeks these were collected and the need for such an establishment was confirmed by the results. There would have been over 100 replies.
The early movers and shakers were Lyn Mason, Joan Burgess, Pat Bryant, Anne Kline and Kay Wylie.
The Committee was enthusiastic and worked long hours. As the number of activities grew – things became hectic.
By 1998, we employed four office staff for various part-time hours and the services of over 40 wonderful teachers. But we must not forget the continuing dedicated “unpaid” efforts of the wonderful committee, playgroup leaders, and volunteers who gave their time and expertise so freely.
The number of participants, adults, and children, has grown from less than 100 per week in 1975/76 to over 1000 in 2005, mostly from our local community.
Many changes have developed over the years, as we try to keep in touch with the needs of the community
* The extended family is not available for many people
* Neighbours are rarely seen
* Local shopping has largely been replaced by impersonal shopping centres
* People need venues and activities to fill their leisure time
* The economic climate makes it harder to find jobs
* Skills need updating for job retraining
Besides the friendliness, the laughter, the warmth, and the companionship available in the House, we keep the classes at a minimal cost.
For all these reasons – Mitcham Community House – has continued to grow and provide a venue for bringing people together as a community. A glance at our timetable and a visit to the House any weekday is “proof of the pudding”. We offer over 80 different competitively priced activities each week, alongside information sessions and one-off workshops.
The strength of the House is its openness and flexibility. The committee is always aiming to respond to Community needs and offers of support. The Committee aims for an informal style which will encourage active participation. It is hoped that people will, through the House use, develop and enrich their lives, recognise their strengths and weaknesses and be accepting of the differences between people.
With re-location to purpose-built premises at 19 Brunswick Road, Mitcham in 1996, the House is now running at nearly full capacity and although it is a struggle financially; we keep the fees as low as possible. Credit for the success of the House must go to the people on the Management Committee who have worked tirelessly over the years entirely voluntarily.
Past and present coordinators, staff, Tutors & volunteers’ contribution to the smooth running of the house is immeasurable. In writing about the House we must not forget the extremely caring and attentive childcare workers. Our childcare is the heart and soul of the Community House.