Mr SOUTHWICK (Caulfield) — I raise a matter for the Minister for Multicultural Affairs regarding the Jewish Holocaust Museum and Research Centre. The action I seek from the minister is that he visit the Jewish Holocaust centre with me with a view to providing additional funding for the centre’s much needed redevelopment.
The world-renowned Jewish Holocaust Museum and Research Centre was established in 1984 as a small grassroots initiative by a group of Holocaust survivors. It encompasses a museum, a research centre, an educational institution and a memorial place. The centre is a special place of memories and learning. Its programs and exhibitions are a tribute to the survivors and volunteers who have contributed to its development. The centre still has over 30 Holocaust survivors who actively volunteer in programs, and each student who visits the centre gets to share in their stories. Unfortunately it is becoming harder to get the volunteers to the centre, and so many of their stories are being digitally recorded in order to ensure their memories live on.
Over the past five years the centre has experienced a significant increase in student visitation, with 20 000 students from over 750 schools across Victoria now visiting annually, and growth is projected of 20 to 25 per cent over the next five years. The centre is absolutely bursting at the seams. Of the 20 000 students who visit the centre every year, 80 to 90 per cent come from schools across Victoria, and most of those are from non-Jewish schools. In these times of extremism, the sorts of programs offered by the centre around social cohesion and inclusiveness are more important than ever. We need to get these stories out to students from all backgrounds. I have had the privilege of hosting a number of members of Parliament from both sides of the house over a number of years on visits to the centre.
As I said, I understand the minister has been to the centre a number of times himself with his family and that he understands the important work that the Holocaust centre does.
The redevelopment would include new classrooms, a display for middle school students, an upgraded main auditorium, commemorative and contemplative places and an additional facility for temple exhibitions. Under the former government we had a commitment of $500 000 to help the further development of the centre. The centre is going to cost millions of dollars in its initial development, but a contribution from the government would certainly help the centre. It would help it fundraise the further dollars that are much needed, and it would ultimately benefit every Victorian in assisting the redevelopment of the centre. I look forward to the minister’s response to my invitation to visit the Holocaust centre in the future to see the great work and to hear about the future plans it has.