LOCAL State and Federal members have thrown their full support behind the Bass Valley Children’s Centre project, with Bass Coast Shire Council also proposing to allocate well over half a million dollars to make the hub a reality. In what was a major turning point for the project, the council confirmed in its 2015/16 draft budget recently that $668,000 will be set aside in its new capital works program to fast-track construction. All that’s needed now, apart from detailed design work, is a government funding commitment, which Flinders MP, Greg Hunt, says he is “fighting hard” for. “I wholeheartedly support this project, which will provide a vital service for local families,” Mr Hunt said. “There are many families who are desperate to see this facility up and running and the group behind the project has been working hard for many years to ensure this is achieved.” Mr Hunt was scheduled to meet with the group and local families at the JLM Pre-School site at Corinella where the new hub will be built. He was unable to attend at the last minute, but has promised to meet committee representatives at the site later this month. “I have had many meetings and discussions with the group over the years and look forward to meeting them again to get an update on the project,” he confirmed. “I will continue to work with the committee and provide any assistance I can to ensure this valuable facility becomes a reality.” Bass MP, Brian Paynter, attended the JLM rally on April 20 to express his enthusiasm for the project. Speaking to the Sentinel-Times afterwards, Mr Paynter said he doesn’t view the hub as “a big cost item”. “The value of it is enormous, right up there with some of the best returns back to the community that I can imagine,” he said. Mr Paynter said the new centre wouldn’t just improve early learning and development opportunities for children in the Waterline area, it would also play a vital role in helping local parents get back into the workforce, due to a significant lack of childcare opportunities in that part of the shire. “We need to overcome any barriers to quality education and employment, and this (project) addresses both those,” he continued. Mr Paynter said he had recently been in talks with Mr Hunt about the initiative, adding that he will write to the Minister for Education and raise the matter in Parliament. BVCC Inc president, Christina Keeble, said the funding commitment from council is “extremely significant”. “This has allowed us to seek further financial support from other organisations and to have a stronger application when seeking State and Federal funding,” she said. “The children’s centre will allow families from our local communities to pursue job opportunities and to further their education knowing their children will be looked after in a safe, professional environment.” Christina said the reaction from community members at the JLM rally recently “reinforced the reason we are pursuing this project”. “Our community not only needs, but deserves these services, and their attendance at our event spoke volumes.” The total cost to build the centre is estimated to be between $1.9m and $2.1m.