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Bubup Wilam: building a strong future for Aboriginal children

At the First 1000 Days Australia Summit in Brisbane last week, the power of strengths-based approaches for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children was a strong focus.

Among the presenters was Lisa Thorpe, CEO of the Bubup Wilam Early Learning Aboriginal Child and Family Centre in Victoria, who described the positive impacts of working with children’s strengths and of nurturing a strong sense of connection and identity (see more in the tweets beneath the article below).

Yet, just a year ago, the future of the service was under a funding threat, as Summer May Finlay reported for Croakey at the time.

In the article below, Finlay gives an update on a recent funding announcement for the centre.


Summer May Finlay writes:

In September 2016, Bubup Wilam, the award-winning Early Learning Aboriginal Child and Family Centre was looking for funding.

Just over a week ago, the funding wait ended. The Federal Minister for Indigenous Health Minister Ken Wyatt AM and the Eastern Melbourne PHN (EMPHN) announced that Bubup Wilam will receive $842,000.

Funding uncertainty has become common place for many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations – and not all manage to secure funding like Bubup Wilam.

Bubup Wilam is an Aboriginal organisation in the northern suburbs of Melbourne that works to improve the lives of young Aboriginal children and their families by putting the focus on strengths, empowerment and self-determination.

The new funding will help build on the organisation’s range of services which bring together health, housing, welfare and education support to improve opportunities for children and their families.

In a statement issued jointly by the Eastern Melbourne PHN and Australian Government, Minister Wyatt praised the model implemented at Bubup Wilam and the positive impacts it is having on health and wellbeing.

“Bubup Wilam is a place of gathering and community engagement and this funding will enable the existing proven initiatives to be boosted and consolidated to provide a joined up approach that will make an even bigger difference in the lives of local children and their families,” Minister Wyatt said.

“Having all these services in one location which is trusted by the community is vital for improving Aboriginal health.”

EMPHN CEO, Robin Whyte, said funding Bubup Wilam is part of EMPHN’s commitment to culturally appropriate care and supporting continued development of a locally accessible service hub.

“Self-determination is a fundamentally important part of Aboriginal health, and we want to support Bubup Wilam to strengthen their work to improve the health of Aboriginal children and their families in connection to community and culture,” she said.

“EMPHN’s funding aims to address barriers to increased uptake of primary health care and other support services.”

Bubup Wilam President, Tony McCartney, said it’s been a long road, but it’s good to get the recognition of the great work the Board, staff, and families put in to give our kids every chance of a positive future.

“Bubup Wilam for Early Learning Aboriginal Child and Family Centre provides critical support for Aboriginal children and families, and access to employment and training for Aboriginal people,” he said.

Positive results

Bubup Wilam CEO, Lisa Thorpe, said:

With the funding from EMPHN, we can now deliver the services from here based on the strengths of our children and to ensure that access and knowledge for the families is at the front and centre of everything we do, fulfilling our vision of ‘Children who are proud and have a strong Aboriginal identity as their foundation for lifelong learning, health and wellbeing’.

We are already seeing positive results in the lives of our families.

Bubup Wilam is vital for our Community because Aboriginal people are at the bottom of every health and social indicator.

We have to try a different approach and support our families to take charge of their lives for change for their future.

Aboriginal children are almost twice as likely to be developmentally vulnerable in health and wellbeing, and through our strengths-based approach which recognises our children as strong competent and capable, this is where our work begins and where change is made.”

This service is supported by funding from the Australian Government under the PHN Program.

Minister Ken Wyatt AO, Bubup Wilam CEO, Lisa Thorpe; Bubup Wilam President, Tony McCartney; EMPHN CEO, Robin Whyte; and EMPHN Chair Jim Swinden at the funding launch
Minister Ken Wyatt AO, Bubup Wilam CEO, Lisa Thorpe; Bubup Wilam President, Tony McCartney; EMPHN CEO, Robin Whyte; and EMPHN Chair Jim Swinden at the funding launch

About Bubup Wilam

According to the statement, Bubup Wilam integrates health and early childhood education, ensuring that children who need support access the right services.

Bubup Wilam meaning ‘Children’s Place’ in Woi Wurrung language seeks to underpin and strengthen their vision through the philosophy of instilling and strengthening children’s strong sense of Aboriginal identity and personal self-esteem as their foundation for lifelong learning, health and wellbeing.

This ensures children, with the support of their parents and extended family, take a lead responsibility in owning and developing their play, space, interaction, learning and engagement with others in a confident and supported way.


Tweet reports from First 1000 Days Australia summit

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