Mr BROADBENT (McMillan) (19:55):  The spirit of a country community skyrockets when they are doing something for their children. Representatives from all over Korumburra and district gathered to celebrate the opening of the Karmai Community Children’s Centre. This was indeed a long-awaited and thrilling event for all of Korumburra. Having had the honour of turning the sod on 24 November 2015, it was a thrill to be there for the official opening on 10 March 2017. When we turned the original sod the then mayor—a very popular mayor, Councillor Bob Newton—and director of community services, Jan Martin, celebrated the long-awaited start of this project. Jan was a dedicated officer of the shire, and this was a pet project for her.

Last week the new mayor, Councillor Ray Argento, along with the president and vice -presidents of the Karmai Community Children’s Centre committee, Bronwyn Beach and Rebecca Marriot, excitedly presided over the day. It was an remarkable community event  with representations from local schools, the service clubs and the Karingal ladies—who provided the most lusciously delicious lunch as only country women can.

Mr Hartsuyker:  Did you have scones?

Mr BROADBENT:  We had scones and all! We had the lot. By the way, congratulations to Bev and Max Hall, who celebrated their 44th wedding anniversary that day. And many others from the Korumburra district were there to enjoy the day.

It was also important to have present Jan Parry, Pam Ireland and Del Johnson, as well as Peter and Carol Ferguson, Heather and Les Cruickshank, Jan Dixon and Denise Cosgriff – all members of the committee that was responsible for the original kindergarten in Korumburra. Also present in the crowd were two kinder teachers with nearly 80 years of service between them: Lyn Stein, who after 42 years at the Korumburra kindergarten can boast of having taught three generations of young children, and Debbie Arnold, who taught for 35 years at the Loch kindergarten.

The total cost of the centre was an incredible $5.345 million. It was under budget, and they were able to access, through the department, further furniture for the building, which really set it off. It really is a magnificent building. It will provide quality accessible child care, kindergarten, maternal child health care and out of school hours care to South Gippsland and will also offer vocational education and training opportunities for childhood educators. The budget included $1.6 million from the feds, $1.6 million from the Victorian government and $2 million from the South Gippsland Shire Council. But, importantly, what do you reckon Korumburra put in themselves? It was $100,000, raised by Karmai Community Children’s Centre

I would like to offer my sincere congratulations to TS Constructions and in particular Tony O’Connell and Mark Patterson. Construction commenced in December 2015 and was completed in December 2016. These guys  do just an amazing job. They are artists in the way they go about it. And the former Leader of the National Party of Victoria, Peter Ryan, put his heart and soul into this project. I know when someone intervenes on behalf of a community, and this guy intervened on behalf of Korumburra. Thanks, Pete. A special thanks must also go to the Rotary Club of Korumburra, who, through the Robyn Holmes Foundation, donated the outside playground equipment to the centre.

What is most exciting about this project is that the Karmai Community Children’s Centre Inc. has advised me that 21 jobs were created during its construction and there will be 40 ongoing jobs in operating the centre, which is great for Korumburra. Particular congratulations must go to the Karmai Children’s Centre Committee, who fought so hard to ensure the construction of this vital community asset. I would like to acknowledge Bronwyn Beach, president; Rebecca Marriot, vice-president; Matthew Hams, treasurer; Jenny Enbom, secretary; Shelley Fixter, South Gippsland Shire; Rachael Currothers; Laura Muranty; Kam Whyte; Louise Cruickshank; Louise Wilson; Pee Wee Lewis and operations manager Sue Richie.

When you go to a day like this in a country area and you think about the times when our kindergartens were built—they were tiny; they were effective, but they were tiny—these days this magnificent facility, built in the heart of Korumburra, really is a sight to behold. They have cut it into the side of a hill. They did not know how they were going to do it, but they cut it beautifully into the side of the hill. We had a smoking ceremony at the beginning of the whole process, which would have been unheard of even five or 10 years ago. It was a magnificent event, and as a local member you just feel enriched, you just feel like you are in a place and a time that will not happen again. But this will be ongoing, and it will be for the benefit of the children of Korumburra.