Noble Park boss ’under investigation’

Brian Woodman

By Cam Lucadou-Wells

Noble Park Community Centre’s manager Brian Woodman has been temporarily stood down while the centre undergoes an independent financial audit.

Mr Woodman, who declined to comment, is the subject of an “internal investigation” at the centre which receives funding from the Department of Health and Human Services, Neighbourhood Houses Victoria and Greater Dandenong Council.

The centre’s Committee of Management – an elected body that oversees the centre – “instigated” the investigation and appointed an independent auditor to review its financial records, according to the DHHS.

“The Community Centre’s Committee of Management have advised that they are conducting an internal investigation to respond to issues that have been brought to their attention,” a Department spokesperson said.

“We are liaising closely with the Committee of Management as the investigation proceeds, and working to ensure neighbourhood house programs and activities continue to be available for the local community.”

The centre’s committee president Silvester Hipik declined to comment.

Greater Dandenong councillor Maria Sampey said the investigation was best handled by the DHHS or an independent body, rather than the centre’s committee.

Further, community centres were also better run by the council itself, such as the Jan Wilson Community Centre in Noble Park, she said.

“These are big government organisations fobbing off their responsibilities to volunteer Committees of Management.

“They set up these committees of people who haven’t been trained up and don’t know what their responsibilities are.

“They haven’t done a director’s course. They are running a company but they are just lay people volunteering to help.”

The centre has been the long-time home of an annual community art show, a community garden and a meeting point for scores of ethnic, sports, hobby and seniors groups in Memorial Drive.

It receives funding from the DHHS through a Neighbourhood House service agreement. The funds support community development programs and activities at the centre.

City of Greater Dandenong provides funds to the centre to run programs and manage the council-owned facility.

A council spokesperson said the DHHS and Neighbourhood Houses Victoria were best placed to speak on the matter.