By Cam Lucadou-Wells
Greater Dandenong Council has given the tick for new independent managers at the scandalised Noble Park Community Centre.
The former committee and centre manager Brian Woodman resigned under a veil of secrecy in 2019 after an internal financial audit.
In a period of “significant turbulence”, a committee from Springvale Neighbourhood House stepped in to provide governance and oversight, Cr Tim Dark told a council meeting on 23 March.
“They’ve put structures in place to ensure what happened with the previous manager doesn’t happen again.”
New oversight would ensure that the centre’s executive would “actually understand their roles and responsibilities”.
Cr Dark said though he didn’t foresee any issues, the council was now able to intervene if the indicators weren’t met.
“The previous committee still have a lot of questions to answer, especially with the significant governance flaws that we found,” he later told Star Journal.
Councillor Peter Brown paid tribute to the new committee chaired by Heather Duggan who “stepped up at very very late notice to take over a very very difficult problem”.
He said the council and the community were indebted to Ms Duggan, Berry Wilderman former mayor Roz Blades and interim centre manager Robyn Coslovich.
The council investigated whether to manage the centre ‘in-house’ or retain the community management model.
It kept the status quo in the form of a two-year license agreement between the centre and the council with “closer oversight”.
The current model offered “community ownership and empowerment” and an ability to attract significant external funding, a council report stated.
“Risk of governance and financial management concerns would be managed by closer oversight and monitoring of key governance performance indicators.”
Noble Park Community Centre receives public funding from Greater Dandenong Council, the Department of Health and Human Services and Neighbourhood Houses Victoria.
The independent, incorporated body is based in a council-owned property on Memorial Drive.
It 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.