Early birthday

AN old wooden sign at the front of the building hints at its multicultural background, but the now-rebadged Fremantle Early Learning Centre celebrates its 30th anniversary this week.

Originally opened as the Beaconsfield International Child Care Centre, it was ground-breaking in its day for catering to the city’s diverse ethnic background.

Kids would put on shows for the Italian aged care facility down the road, while former parent and committee member Zita Pal told a senate hearing in 1996 that there were 45 different cultural backgrounds in the playground.

“[My son] can sing Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star in Japanese and do an Aboriginal brolga dance,” Ms Pal told senators.

“But, more importantly, I have had the choice of being able to put him in an environment that fosters tolerance and understanding of diversity.”

• Former FELC staffer Marta Gonzalez with her three grandkids Patrick (10) William (6) and Matthew Leahy (4) who currently attend. Photo supplied

Budget mess

Her appearance came as the federal government was considering ending the centre’s childcare subsidies, and recently the FELC has been fighting another battle, with the McGowan government helping to mend its budget mess by withdrawing rental support.

But that’ll all be forgotten on Sunday as the centre opens its doors from noon to 3pm for an open day aimed at kids aged up to five years old, with free nature play and local entertainment.

Chairperson Danielle Loizou-Lake says the nature play, building a sense of belonging and careful nurturing, along with loyal, long-term staff have been behind the centre’s success.

“The values which our staff live and breathe are: nature, nurture and belong,” she said.

“As a not-for-profit childcare centre we reinvest funds into improving our outdoor nature play areas, learning through play resoures and professional development for our educators and assistants.”

by STEVE GRANT

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