Julia Gillard painted a glowing picture of the East Kimberley’s future and was welcomed enthusiastically during a whirlwind visit last week, when she pledged millions of dollars for infrastructure and community projects.
Ms Gillard arrived in Kununurra last Tuesday, before meeting members of the “mums and bubs” group on Wednesday and planting a scarlet gum in Celebrity Tree Park.
She then made history as Australia’s first serving Prime Minister to visit Wyndham.
Crowds of children and their parents turned up for a colourful celebration as Ms Gillard officially opened the town’s new $1.7 million early learning activity centre.
Ms Gillard said it was important to invest in children early so they developed the skills they needed to succeed at school and beyond.
“What’s happening here is valuing the life of every child ... as a nation, we haven’t given every child the same start in life … the opportunity to pursue all of their dreams,” she said.
“To make a real difference with kids, we’ve got to make all of the connections with families – that is what this centre does.”
Ms Gillard announced an additional $100,000 for a new indigenous women’s leadership program at the centre – once an old donga next to the Wyndham District High School.
With funding from the East Kimberley Development Package, it is now a bright and breezy facility with multi-purpose rooms where women learn how to make nutritious meals and sew while their children enjoy educational activities and a safe playground.
Wyndham East Kimberley Shire president John Moulden said the centre was a great example of community spirit and represented the “heart and soul” of the town.
“I know this community is immensely grateful for the benefits that have flowed from the East Kimberley Development Package – this is one manifestation of it,” he said.
Ms Gillard also inspected the recent $10 million upgrade to the Wyndham Port.
Before leaving the East Kimberley, Ms Gillard announced $14 million towards the replacement of the Big McPhee Bridge on the Great Northern Highway.