Bubup Wilam - Speech in Parliament

Bubup Wilam is an Aboriginal child and family centre established under the former national partnerships, located in Thomastown in the Scullin electorate. I have often spoken about Bubup Wilam in this place because it is so important to the Indigenous communities of Melbourne's north. I am incredibly proud of the work that Bubup Wilam does not only in terms of supporting early childhood education and young families but also as a hub for Melbourne's north's expanding Aboriginal population.

On Friday I was very pleased to be able to attend the annual Funfields day that Bubup organises with staff, children and parents from the centre. This day was made possible by Bubup Wilam's CEO, Lisa Thorpe, securing donations from generous community members. It was great for the kids to visit Funfields and also great for the parents to have the opportunity to catch up with one another and engage with Bubup Wilam's staff in respect of any concerns they have about the children's progress.

It was a day in which there was much to celebrate through the achievements of the year, the growing resilience of children and the strengthening of families. There was much to celebrate, but all of this celebration takes place under a significant cloud of uncertain funding arrangements. Bubup Wilam not only provides child care and early childhood learning to a community which faces some challenges but also provides important health and financial services which pull the community together. It is making a huge contribution to the communities of Melbourne's north, particularly the Aboriginal community, but it is a presence which is visible right across the communities that I represent. It is teaching Indigenous children about culture and heritage and, through a particularly tailored curriculum, helping these children solidify their proud Aboriginal identity. It is also a place which is employing a number of Aboriginal workers: nearly 50 per cent of the 47 staff there are Aboriginal.

But it is facing a very significant cost shortfall, and the federal government has, unfortunately, tried to pass on funding responsibility to the state. Since the election of the Andrews Labor government we have seen a state government working hard to try and close this gap, but without certainty over core funding Bubup Wilam staff are uncertain of their future and are unable to set-up a business plan into the future. This is unsatisfactory. Since the cessation of the national partnership, this government has refused to give funding certainty. This government needs to put its money where its mouth is in terms of its commitment to closing the gap and meeting school attendance goals. Bubup Wilam is a community run and delivered service, catering to the growing Aboriginal communities of Melbourne's north in a way that is unique. If it is unable to secure meaningful federal support, these services will simply disappear. This will be a tragedy for Thomastown and the wider communities of Melbourne's north. I am hopeful, because I hear good signs from the minister, that progress can be made, but I want the Indigenous communities of Melbourne's north to know that I will not rest until funding has been secured.

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