Vanessa Parker, Teearn Bruce, and director Maurita Cavanough from Jarjum Aboriginal Preschool are hopeful a new site has been found for the centre. Photo Cathy Adams / The Northern Star
Vanessa Parker, Teearn Bruce, and director Maurita Cavanough from Jarjum Aboriginal Preschool are hopeful a new site has been found for the centre. Photo Cathy Adams / The Northern Star Cathy Adams

Jarjum Preschool get new land, but fight not over

LISMORE City Council on Tuesday unanimously passed a motion to make land available at Clifford Park in Goonellabah to Jarjum Centre Inc for the purposes of building a new preschool.

The embattled preschool is now a step closer to relocating from its Rifle Range Road location, where regular lock-downs, vandalism and daily sweeps for littered syringes have become the sad reality.

The 100-year-old donated weatherboard building does not pass building code and struggles to cater for the children’s special needs.

Jarjum Preschool Director Maurita Cavanough said she was ‘very excited’ at the prospect of relocating to Clifford Park. A volunteer architect has designed a beautiful school, so the project is nearly shovel ready.

It is hoped the new site will forge stronger community connection through an alliance with Northern United Rugby League Club and help promote health and fitness, Ms Cavanough said.

“It would provide a greater chance for the community to take ownership. Real change only takes place when it is community-led,” she said.

However, there is a long way to go in making their relocation dream a reality. A crowdfunding campaign has only managed to attract $2500 of the $1.8 million needed to build a n preschool.

Jarjum Preschool priorities children that are most vulnerable in the community, she explained.

A petition to Nigel Scullion, Minister of Indigenous Affairs has called for federal funding for the preschool.

A spokesperson for Kevin Hogan’s office said they were aware of the petition and open to discussing funding with the preschool.

Greens candidate for Page, Kudra Falla-Ricketts, was first to react to the Clifford Park news and with a call for the federal government to also commit to the community preschool.

“This preschool fulfils a vital community need by providing educational opportunities to a generation of local children who would otherwise fall through the gaps.”

“Providing assistance to young children at the preschool level is a proven way of ensuring better lifelong outcomes and Jarjum preschool is a vital service for closing the gap for local indigenous children.”

“Federal government cuts to indigenous education programs have severely reduced the Jarjum preschool’s capacity to operate, despite having a waiting list of more than 20 children,” she said.

Greens councillor Vanessa Ekins also congratulated the Lismore Council. “I’m delighted at the decision and and I’m hopeful that the council go further by offering the land to Jarjums on terms that fully reflect the Centre’s importance to the local community and its not-for-profit status.”

To donate to a new preschool:

https://chuffed.org/project/help-us-build-a-new-preschool-for-aboriginal-children



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