Bunbunarik children’s centre, Heathcote

Minister’s Statement

I rise to inform the house on the progress of the Andrew’s Labor government’s record investment in early childhood infrastructure. So far we have invested $76.4 million to support local governments and other service providers to invest in early childhood infrastructure to ensure that we have kindergarten programs alongside other key services such as maternal and child health and playgroups.

As part of this commitment, recently I was pleased to announce $650 000 for a new children’s centre in Heathcote. I was very pleased that a member for Northern Victoria Region, Jaclyn Symes, was able to represent me in recent weeks to turn the sod on Heathcote’s first long day care and early learning centre. As has been reported in the McIvor Times, the children’s centre will be named Bunbunarik, a term from the local Taungurung clan which means ‘children’. It has been particularly heartening to see the overwhelming reaction and enthusiastic support from the Heathcote community for this new centre, which will mean local childcare services and early years services not only for their local community but for the surrounding region as well.

Not only that; it will also go towards creating new jobs for that local community. We can see how important these facilities can be, particularly in regional communities where there may be no other childcare services available. I understand that the Heathcote community has not had child care close to home for local families up until now, and so this is a very significant addition to local community services. I want to congratulate and thank Jaclyn Symes for being a fierce advocate for this local community and for having supported this project from the very beginning. I have no doubt that this new centre will mean Heathcote families will be able to access quality early learning services closer to home.