Budget cuts hit Bubup Wilam Children and Family Centre

The future of the Bubup Wilam Aboriginal Children and Family Centre is up in the air following the Abbott government’s Budget of wrong choices and wrong priorities, which did not renew ongoing funding. 

The Bubup Willam centre in Thomastown Victoria, is one of 38 centres around the nation which face oblivion when the National Partnership Agreement (NPA) on Indigenous Early Childhood Development expires on 30 June 2014. 

Shadow Minister for Indigenous Affairs, Shayne Neumann, together with Member for Scullin, Andrew Giles, visited Bubup Wilam to talk to management, staff and families and hear first-hand how they will be affected by the funding cuts.

“We know early childhood education is at the heart of our efforts to Closing the Gap in Indigenous disadvantage,” Mr Neumann said. 

“The Bubup Wilam centre has been essential in educating young children, while instilling and strengthening their sense of Aboriginal identity and self-esteem in this region. 

“Tony Abbott’s refusal to commit any funds to centres such as Bubup Willam will have devastating and long lasting effects which threaten to undermine our efforts to Closing the Gap in Indigenous disadvantage. 

“Tony Abbott’s choices show he does not recognise or value the important cultural and social relationships that underlie all of our efforts to Closing the Gap.” 

The National Partnership Agreement committed $564 million for the establishment of 38 Children and Family Centres, which deliver early childhood education, antenatal care programs and maternal and child health services. 

The centres provide quality, culturally appropriate, community-based integrated support services for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and families. 

“Tony Abbott has abandoned the families and community, which rely on the Bubup Willam centre to access a whole range of vital health and family services,” Federal Member for Scullin Andrew Giles said. 

“Aboriginal children are the most vulnerable group of children in the community and Bubup Wilam is helping to reduce the high levels of disadvantage they currently experience to give them the best start in live. 

“It provides integrated child and family services with a focus on quality early learning, child care and parent and family support. 

“Furthermore, the centre employs 25 people who now face the prospect of unemployment as a result of Tony Abbott’s priorities.” 

Bubup Wilam was built as part of the Council of Australian Government’s approach to Closing the Gap, which seeks to reduce the gap in developmental outcomes between Indigenous and non-Indigenous children by addressing the needs of Indigenous children in their early years. 

It is one of two such centres in Victoria. The other is in Bairnsdale in regional Victoria. 

Bubup Wilam, which means meaning ‘Children’s Place’ in the Woi Wurrung language, has been operating successfully since 2012 and is at its capacity enrolment of 74 children. It is rated as meeting National Quality Standards, and exceeds these standards in several areas.

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