Herdsman Lake Wildlife Centre faces closure

Children's freshwater life scooping activities at Herdsman Lake Wildlife Centre.
Children's freshwater life scooping activities at Herdsman Lake Wildlife Centre.

WHILE a number of recent education funding cuts were reversed after community pushback, the Herdsman Lake Wildlife Centre still faces potential closure.

The centre receives $165,000 annually from the Education Department, enabling the WA Gould League to fund two staff positions.

About 6500 students participate in WA Gould League programs every year, and volunteers educate the broader community outside school hours.

WA Gould League president Professor Kevin Kenneally said the situation was grim.

“The loss of the centre to the children and community of WA would be immense,” he said.

“Politicians need to be reminded that children’s education should never be a starting point for budget repair.”

Prof Kenneally said the WA Gould League had an 80-year history of direct involvement with the Education Department and had been running the centre for 34 years.

A spokeswoman from the City of Stirling said the City did not contribute funding to the centre because it was on land under the jurisdiction of the state government.

“The centre serves a useful role in community education and providing an introduction to the biodiversity and other natural values of the Herdsman Lake Regional Park, and is a regular attraction to school and community groups and tourists,” she said.

Education Minister Sue Ellery said every program across every agency had to be reviewed given the budget situation the Government faced.

“This has not been easy but when the dollars are stretched to the limit, the state government – like every responsible business and household – has to do things differently,” she said.

“The Gould League has been advised that the contract will be extended for another year, and the Department will assist them in finding alternative sources of sponsorship.”

Greens MLC Alison Xamon called the decision to cut funding to the centre “outrageous” and said the announcement of the funding cut during the December break was “heartless”.

“(The Herdsman Lake Wildlife Centre) provides an excellent out-of-classroom experience for thousands of children every year,” she said.

“There is a recognised need for these services; environmental education is vital for WA’s future sustainability.”

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