The precarious future of two Aboriginal Child and Family Centres — and the impact their closure would have on local children, families and communities —has been highlighted in an article by Geoff Bagnall published in the National Indigenous Times.
The Baya Gawiy Buga yani Jandu yaniu u Centre in Fitzroy Crossing, WA, and the Bubup Wilam Centre in Thomastown, Victoria, are two of 38 new ACFCs across Australia that face uncertain funding futures following the end of the national partnership agreement between the Australian and state-territory governments in June 2014.
Centre Manager at Baya Gawiy, Sarah Cleaves, told the National Indigenous Times the centre’s closure would have severe implications on children, families and the entire Fitzroy Crossing community, impacting community health, education, and employment.
The centre has received a letter from Federal Indigenous Affairs Minster Nigel Scullion suggesting they may be able to apply for funding under the Indigenous Advancement Strategy (IAS), although Ms Cleaves believes even if their application is successful the amount and duration of the funding would remain unclear.
“[The IAS] is a four year agreement but there is no guarantee we’ll get the funding for four years because the amount of money and the time allocated is at the sole discretion of the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet.”
Lisa Thorpe, Chief Executive of Bubup Wilam, sees the new system of Aboriginal funding as a pot of money anyone can dip into.
“They’re going to assimilate us, and we’re going to have to compete,” Lisa said.
“How many of the 38 still exist as Aboriginal service?” she said. “We are down now, I think, to about 12 or 15 — the rest have been assimilated.”
“They say Aboriginal children can use this, but it is for all vulnerable children. They built it on black money but then they took it straight away.”
“Aboriginal organisations still need support; you can’t erase 226 years of destruction in a government term.