Aboriginal family centre planned
A NEW Aboriginal child and family centre being planned for West Ballina will be the first of its kind in NSW.
The centre will be funded under the Closing the Gap initiative and Ballina Shire Council will provide land at Porter Park.
But there is still a lot of work to be done, according to the council’s strategic services manager, Steve Barnier.
He said community engagement, application assessment and the finalisation of leasing and management arrangements would be the next steps.
But Lenkunyar Roberts, who is on the Local Reference Group and has been lobbying for a centre for a long time, said it was great news that a site had been identified.
It is one of nine centres planned for NSW and one of only 35 in Australia.
“It’s great that Ballina will be the first to get a centre like this off the ground,” Ms Roberts said.
“It’s something that’s been needed for such a long time.
“The commitment and dedication to get this happening has come from the local Aboriginal community and the Local Reference Group.”
Ms Roberts said the vision was a place that fostered a ‘culturally strong community’ and was a place of belonging for Aboriginal children.
“This centre will bring with it real benefits for our community,” she said.
“Having a base at Porter Park will mean it will be in close proximity to low socio-economic areas.
“It will also create a number of new jobs and this will lead to direct financial benefits.
“The centre will provide close, accessible and affordable childcare.
“I see this centre as just the start of something more.
“This is a prime opportunity ... to improve the lives of our most vulnerable children.”
Ballina councillor Peter Moore said the centre was a ‘significant step forward’.
“We, I think, will be a unique community with the establishment of this centre,” he said.
Cr Sue Meehan said Ballina was privileged to get one of only nine centres planned for NSW.
“It’s going to be close to the people who will use it, it’s going to be accessible,” she said.
Ms Roberts agreed, saying the centre would target the needs of children and families.
“There is nothing else like it in the region,” she said.
“I want this centre to be here not only for my children, but for my children’s children.
“This is a long-term project for the local Aboriginal community.”