Bubup Wilam Aboriginal Child and Family Centre 

Bubup Wilam Aboriginal Child and Family Centre 

20 September, 2022

A child and family centre located in Thomastown has become a pillar of the community for First Nations Australians.  

Bubup Wilam means Children’s Place in Woi Wurrung language and for the local Aboriginal community, the centre has become a hub for families to seek support, find advocates, and strengthen culture. It’s an innovative service that takes holistic care to a new level and strives to make positive change in the community. Located in Thomastown, Bubup Wilam Aboriginal Child and Family Centre is an Aboriginal Community Controlled organisation which walks alongside families, supporting them with education, health, and life skills.

What really sets Bubup Wilam apart is its wrap-around services, for the children and their families. The centre’s 76 place long day-care supports children aged 6 months to 6 years with its early years’ program, and 3 and 4-year-old kinder programs which run for 40 weeks a year. Not just a long day-care centre – the programs’ aim to instil and strengthen children’s sense of their Aboriginal identity and personal self-esteem as their foundation for lifelong learning, health, and wellbeing. This equates to children, with the support of their parents and extended family, taking a lead responsibility in owning and developing their play, learning, interactions, and engagement with others in a confident and supported way. Guided by the teaching staff, the centre aims to ensure children begin the journey of reaching their full potential right from these pivotal early years into transitioning to local school programs. Once leaving day-care, children and their families receive follow-up by the centre until they are 8 years old, with the engagement designed to strengthen that sense of community and support.

Bubup Wilam’s focus on early intervention integrates engagement with a range of health professionals who provide a holistic service for the children and their families. Through collaboration, a rich learning environment that emphasises participation and inclusion has evolved, promoting health and wellbeing. Social and emotional wellbeing and resilience are embedded in identity and sense of belonging. The funding that EMPHN provides to Bubup Wilam ensures preventative initiatives are right there – eliminating the constraints of waiting lists for community funded services such as speech pathology, children’s health checks, occupational therapy services and hearing screenings.

Between July 2021 and June 2022, a total of 952 engagements were made with the Health and Wellbeing team which was accessed by 182 children. One of the most commonly accessed services was speech pathology, with a total of 756 speech pathology appointments. Funding allows children to be seen at the centre in comfortable and familiar surrounds. During the 2021 lockdowns, families were also provided support by the centre’s social and wellbeing program, accessed by 192 families including 67 families from Thomastown who were supported with food supplies, groceries and vouchers during COVID-19.

When single dad, Roy* took on the care of his two children full time, Bubup Wilam played a key role in wrapping around him to build his confidence in parenting, assist him get his driver’s license and advocate on his behalf with many government departments. Bubup Wilam provided a safe place for the children and facilitated their social, emotional and education development in many ways, including: in-depth discussions around choices and assistance with self-regulation, a rich language environment at home and kindergarten, discussions around solidarity with others and caring for self, others, and Country.

Bubup Wilam strives to instil and encourage self-determination in addressing change for Aboriginal people to ensure their voices are heard and they have control over what happens to their children and their community. Self-determination, along with a strong sense of Aboriginal identity and heart, is the cornerstone for maintaining the health and wellbeing of the children and their families.

For more information on Bubup Wilam, you can visit their website

You can learn more on our Aboriginal Health and Wellbeing Program here

*Name changed