Baya Gawiy Children and Family Centre

“We, as a community made up of the Bunuba, Gooniyandi, Walmajarri and Wangkatjungka peoples wanted a place of beauty for our young children and their families to be able to come to, to engage with elders, seek advice and access high quality early childhood programmes.”
June Oscar, CEO

The Baya Gawiy Buga yani Jandu yani u Centre opened on the 10th September 2012. In its physical form the purpose built facility reflects the baya gawiy, the fresh water sting ray of the Fitzroy River. The curved walls, organic forms and vaulted roof gives it the sense of “country” reflecting the elements in the landscape that are important to the community members who occupy the building. Buga yani Jandu yani u is the Bunuba wording for ‘all the children and their families’. We are a welcoming gathering place which brings the beauty of the Fitzroy Valley and the voices of our ancestors into our walls. Our community suffers from many traumas, but we believe, that by forming a centre of excellence for our children and their families, we can begin to heal the wounds of the past and the pains of the present.

Fundamental to the care, support, activities and education we provide, is Indigenous ways of knowing and doing. To help our children and families grow and learn, we must live our philosophy in all we do and provide. We invite all members of the community – parents, elders, sisters and brothers – to participate in the services the centre provides. With the support of everyone, all community groups, Indigenous and non-Indigenous, we can feel a strong sense of pride in our heritage and belonging to this culturally and ecologically rich country.

Baya Gawiy Buga yani Jandu yani u Centre is managed by Sarah Cleaves, who has an extensive background in the not for profit and government sectors with expertise in public health and early childhood policy. She is committed to working in partnership with the local community and staff to improve outcomes for children and their families in the Fitzroy Valley which are built around the principals of Indigenous ways of knowing and doing, cross-cultural partnerships, life- long learning and collaboration with families and other key stakeholders in early childhood.

Sarah supports and motivates a talented team of staff who bring their varied skill sets to Baya Gawiy Buga yani Jandu yani u Centre which includes expertise in education, language and culture. Our local staff bring their extensive knowledge of their social and cultural environments to the centre. They offer advice and feedback on how best to incorporate Indigenous ways of knowing and doing into the centre’s educational framework.

In addition to the dedication of staff, our work at the centre has been possible through the generous donation of time from our expert panel members which includes experts in language, culture, the arts, education and paediatrics. Our expert panel focus on sharing their knowledge and skill and encourage the development of best practice delivery in early childhood education and health and well-being for families and their children. We are also grateful to other member of the Fitzroy Valley language groups, the Fitzroy Futures Early Childhood Development Sub-Committee and other early childhood stakeholders from around Australia, the Local Operations Centre, philanthropists and friendships we have formed around Australia. Our wider community has been central to imagining and creating this beautiful and much needed facility.