Labor promises funds for Children’s Forest facilities

David SalvaireSound Telegraph
Baldivis Children’s Forrest members with Labor’s Mark McGowan and Reece Whitby.
Camera IconBaldivis Children’s Forrest members with Labor’s Mark McGowan and Reece Whitby. Credit: David Salvaire

State Opposition Leader Mark McGowan has promised $200,000 in funding to the Baldivis Children’s Forest if WA Labor is successful at the March State election.

The election commitment is for the construction of a classroom and administration area at the site, which is currently run out of a sea container.

The Baldivis Children’s Forest sits on 19ha of revegetated bushland in the heart of one of the fastest-growing suburbs in Australia and is the only United Nations award-winning environmental organisation in WA.

The organisation’s board chairman Tim Hill said he was excited about the possibilities the funding could open up for the group.

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“We’re a grassroots organisation but we operate on a much bigger scale and we’ve struggled over the years to keep up with the demand that’s coming in,” he said.

“We need a structure at the forest that will enable us to do work around the year and that will increase our capacity to deliver to more kids.

“Our ethos here is ‘conservation through education’, and a lot of the work we do here is focused on actual scientific studies.”

The forest, which was previously farmland, was established in 2000 and is managed through a partnership between the City of Rockingham and the non-government organisation.

Flanked by Mr McGowan at the site, WA Labor’s Baldivis candidate Reece Whitby said the grant would make a “huge difference” and increase the organisation’s reach.

“Children from all around the world … continue to come here, and while there is a great shelter, we need a permanent facility,” he said.

“There’s interest all over Perth for this organisation and the success of this will hopefully breed forest centres all over Perth and WA.”

Mr McGowan echoed Mr Whitby’s comments and said the site was important because children were increasingly becoming disconnected from nature.

Baldivis Liberal candidate Malcolm George questioned Labor’s ability to pay for its promises.

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