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Tuesday, 26 June 2012
Page: 8112

Mr JENKINS (Scullin) (16:09): I invite member Warren Truss to come to my electorate to see modern telecommunications, but that is not what I am here for today.

Last Friday, I joined with the Aboriginal community of the electorate of Scullin in paying my respects to the Wurundjeri Wilam Clan, who are the custodial owners of the land on which we met for the official opening of the Bubup Wilam for Early Learning Aboriginal Child and Family Centre. Bubup Wilam means 'Children's Place' in the Wuywurrung language. Bubup Wilam, the first Aboriginal early years centre in the City of Whittlesea, received $8.2 million from the federal government's national partnerships agreement for Indigenous early childhood development and half a million dollars from the former Victorian state Labor government. The land was provided by the City of Whittlesea. This is a true partnership between the three spheres of government and, most importantly, the community itself.

This new, state-of-the-art modern and contemporary early learning centre is ideally located on Main Street, Thomastown, in the Main Street precinct among the library, recreational and aquatic centre and the local primary and secondary schools. The centre includes a combination of preschool and long day care places, four consulting rooms to be used by Aboriginal and mainstream partnership organisations to provide relevant services to children and families, and a multipurpose room that will cater to playgroups, elder and community meetings and training activities.

The centre aims to provide a thriving Aboriginal family based early learning centre that creates strong foundations through learning, health and wellbeing. The centre also provides a pre-prep program which will ensure that children are ready in every way possible for their primary school years. Since its opening in February this year, 60 Aboriginal children aged between six months and five years have been enjoying the benefits of this new centre. There are wonderful native gardens outside and a fireplace, where the smoking ceremony was conducted on the day.

Bubup Wilam is a tribute to the many people who have walked together over the past three years on a journey that has allowed this Aboriginal community to come together to celebrate its Indigenous connections, to be visible and to be valued. The shared vision of these people has ensured that the children from this Aboriginal community have a state-of-the-art environment in which to learn and explore their heritage. It is something that they richly deserve. I wish the centre every success in the future as they walk on a very long journey to make sure that our Indigenous Australians are not only appreciated but also given the opportunities that they perhaps have been denied in the past.

One of the reasons that there is an increasing Aboriginal community in my local area is that they are coming because they feel valued and services are being provided, and that is something that I cherish and celebrate. They want to live in our wider community because they feel valued.