The new Aboriginal Child and Family Centre at West Ballina.
The new Aboriginal Child and Family Centre at West Ballina. Patrick Gorbunovs

Limited funding leaves new $3m childcare centre in doubt

THE future of the Ballina Aboriginal Child and Family Centre is in doubt, with funding to operate the $3 million facility due to run out on June 30.

The state-of-the-art childcare centre and preschool was opened with much fanfare at Ballina's Porter Park on Saturday.

The opening was the culmination of a four-year battle for the Bunjum Aboriginal Co-operative to realise its dream of a local childcare facility for Bundjalung "jarjums".

Collaboration between local, State and Federal governments saw the centre, administered by NSW Family and Community Services, built with federal funding on council-donated land.

The co-op's general manager, Nita Roberts, indicated at the centre opening she hoped funding could be secured beyond the next three months.

The family centre is running at more than 60% capacity in its third week of operation, and can accommodate 59 children per day in childcare.

Mrs Roberts did not return calls from the Northern Star for comment.

Ballina MP and Minister for the North Coast Don Page said the childcare centre was part of the Indigenous Early Childhood Development National Partnership Agreement, which is federally funded.

"However, the state provided assistance in the design and delivery of the facility," he said.

Mr Page said both tiers of government were working to find a solution.

"I understand discussions at the moment are occurring between the State and Federal governments and within the State Government, given there are a number of agencies involved, regarding funding," he said.

"I am optimistic about finding a solution that will allow this important facility, which is delivering good outcomes for Aboriginal children and families, to continue in the years ahead."


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