I wish to start by acknowledging the traditional custodians of the land on which we meet today, near the banks of the Djarlgarra, the Whadjuk Noongar People of South-Western Australia and pay my respects to their elders past and present.
I’m always so glad to come down here to the Champion Centre, one of the most unique community facilities not only here in Armadale, but our country.
But I’m especially proud to join you all here today following such an historic day.This year the Government will hold a referendum to embrace the Uluru Statement from the Heart, including a constitutionally-enshrined Voice to Parliament.
Yesterday we learnt what that question will read:
“A Proposed Law: to alter the Constitution to recognise the First Peoples of Australia by establishing an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice. Do you approve this proposed alteration?”
Constitutional recognition through a Voice is about two things: recognition and consultation.
Recognition of the 65,000 years of shared history and continuous connection to this land by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians.
Consultation through Voice, because listening to communities leads to better policies and better outcomes.
And I hope you will join with me in answering the invitation of First Nations people. The 2023 referendum will be a unifying moment for Australia – it’s about taking this country forward, for everyone. This is the best chance we have had to address the injustices of the past and create change that will deliver a better future. Which brings us to why we’re here today.
We’re here to deliver a better future for children and families here in our community. The first four years of a child’s life are absolutely critical for positive life outcomes. The Early Years Partnership we’re here to celebrate today aims to improve the well-being and school readiness of children before they turn four. On behalf of the Federal Government, I want to thank all the Early Years Partners who are here today – the WA State Government, Minderoo Foundation, Telethon Kids institute and our local community.
The Commonwealth Government is a supporting partner of this program, with funding to support backbone infrastructure here in Armadale through Connected Beginnings. Connected Beginnings is an Australian Government grants program aimed at giving First Nations children the best start to life.
The program draws upon the strength and knowledge of First nations communities to increase children’s and families engagement with health and early childhood education and care.
I was lucky to join my good friend and colleague Anne Aly, the Minister for Early Childhood Education and Youth in Port Hedland recently, to meet with the elders, the Aboriginal community and local services to discuss how we can all better support children in the early years through Connected Beginnings.
That meeting was underpinned by a collective understanding that communities are best placed to identify, develop, and manage solutions to meet their needs and should be supported to make informed community-level decisions… and that’s why I’m so glad to see you all working so closely together to support children and families in our community.
It’s the same principle of the voice – that listening to communities leads to better policies and better outcomes. It’s your collective knowledge that’s helped establish the what the strengths and gaps in current services are, ultimately informing how the Early Years Partnership and the community can address the priority areas identified in this plan. The Government is committed to making early childhood education and care more affordable and accessible for Australian families.
So thank you all for the work you’re doing now – and have been doing through the years, looking around today I see so many familiar faces – this is a long time coming for so many of you. Thank you all for working to make this fantastic program a reality and I look forward to continue to work with you on improving child wellbeing and school readiness in our community.