Jarjum Aboriginal Preschool breathe sigh of relief

STEPPING IN: Page MP Kevin Hogan joined Maurita Cavanaugh and her students at Jarjum Preschool to announce additional literacy and numeracy funding yesterday, effectively reversing cuts announced in March.
STEPPING IN: Page MP Kevin Hogan joined Maurita Cavanaugh and her students at Jarjum Preschool to announce additional literacy and numeracy funding yesterday, effectively reversing cuts announced in March. Ross Kendall

PARENTS and staff at Jarjum Aboriginal preschool are breathing a sigh of relief after Page MP Kevin Hogan intervened to block threatened cuts to funding.

The preschool was told in March its funding was to be cut, resulting in the loss of up to three hands-on staff members.

The staff is crucial to caring for special needs students and providing the school's Aboriginal cultural focus, Jarjum director Maurita Cavanaugh said.

However, Mr Hogan yesterday announced Jarjum would receive an extra $350,000 in funding over two-and-a-half years for literacy and numeracy programs.

RELATED: Federal funding cut to strip staff from Lismore preschool

"This is great news for Jarjum, its students and parents, and will help close the gap between our Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities," Mr Hogan said.

Mr Hogan said he had taken Assistant Health Minister Fiona Nash on a visit to the school.

"I wanted her to see the wonderful program the pre-school delivers for our children," Mr Hogan said.

Ms Cavanaugh said the new funding meant Jarjum could continue to "cater for the additional needs of the children and maintain the service.

"We can provide the individual programs the children need to make the transition to school," she said.

"We can do what we are trained to do, we can implement the programs we had before [the cuts]; it is good news for us."

Targeting preschoolers with numeracy and literacy programs was a good investment, Mr Hogan said.

"The statistics show clearly that early intervention works. If kids start primary school with age appropriate skills, their chances of success are increased," he said.

Warren Weirs, a parent of children at the school, said the Aboriginal emphasis within the pre-school was very important, and unique to the Lismore area.

Jarjum helped establish an Aboriginal cultural identity.

The preschool also offered an invaluable service to young children with special needs, he said.



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