Located on the oldest Aboriginal reserve in NSW, Nanima Preschool is an Early Childhood Education service that is rich in culture and deeply committed to the children and families of the community in which it sits. For the past five years, Nanima Preschool has maintained its Exceeding NQS rating. Director of Nanima Preschool Deanne Towney shares how her service supports children’s health and safety, specific to Quality Area 2.
18 November 2021
Could you tell me a bit more about Nanima Preschool and the importance of culture at your service?
Nanima Preschool is situated on Wiradjuri land and we are proud with our connection to Culture and community. All of the staff are local Koori people and already have that connection with culture, our people, the land and community. It is important for our preschool children to learn, connect and belong to our environment and community. Connecting with people, places and community is what we strive to achieve so our young ones can grow into confident individuals ready to take on the world. We are all treated equal and support one another in any way we can. We participate in Aboriginal dance, language, art and craft.
Being situated on an Aboriginal reserve gives us a sense of peace and calmness from the time you step in the front gate. Being greeted by our Aunties/Uncle on the bus or at the front door is important to build those trusting relationships. Our culture is one of caring, sharing and supporting each other and we at Nanima Preschool do this well.
In 2019, the Nanima Preschool children performed a traditional Aboriginal dance at the Wellington Eisteddfod. It was the first time the Wellington Eisteddfod had seen an Aboriginal dance group/school perform this type of cultural dance.
Why is it so important for Nanima Preschool to promote a healthy lifestyle for children?
A lot of our children at Nanima Preschool are from low-income families or sole parent families in a small community with a high population of Indigenous people.
Promoting health and wellbeing at Nanima Preschool isn’t just limited to healthy eating or physical activity. Accessing services such as health that a lot of our larger communities take for granted can be quite hard and waitlists are long. Because of this, we coordinate full health checks yearly for each child at our service.
Our children also have access to professional health services who visit our preschool on a weekly basis, which includes Speech Therapists, Occupational Therapists, Early Intervention Specialists and our local Aboriginal Health service – all of which plays a vital role for our families and community.
Healthy Eating is promoted by all within our service. We have two Nutritional Educators who plan and cook our healthy menu according to the required nutritional daily intake and in consultation with the Munch and Move team from Dubbo. Our Nutritional Educators are highly valued staff in our team, involved in educating the staff, children and families on healthy eating and healthy choices.
At Nanima, it is important for us to have new fruit and vegetables introduced to the children regularly, sometimes the children will be tasting them for the first time.
All of our children and staff eat these healthy meals together every day – role modelling is not only by staff but by other children in the class.
How do the children respond to such a healthy focus at the service?
All of the children are treated equally and involved in our nutritional program. It is great for us to provide the healthy lifestyle so our little champs can educate others at home.
The children at Nanima Preschool instigated the implementation of our gardens through children voices and the self-assessment document. They love our garden area and growing their own food; from planting seeds, to watering and watching them grow through their life cycle. Children are learning how to care for our environment and how they can live off the land. The children enjoy picking their fruit, veges and herbs and taking them in to our Nutritional Educator to serve up that day. It’s connecting us back to our culture.
How are you engaging children at Nanima Preschool in physical activity?
Nanima Preschool has a large outdoor area and gardens that have recently been updated. The children have the space to play games, run, explore our yarning circle, along with our stepping stones and logs.
Our bike track with its own roundabout assist in the development of our gross motor skills along with learning the road rules, direction, language development and safety. The obstacle course in the centre of the school is always set up and our gardens are always buzzing with the children watering, weeding and picking. Our veranda area has quiet activities for children wanting time out or quiet time. We have our very own outside craft studio for those artistic children wishing to continue their craft during outdoor play times.
We also run a great indoor program offering dance, yoga, hopscotch, and a corner area with a hut for quiet time or reading.
One of the elements of Quality Area 2 is Incident and Emergency Management. How is Nanima Preschool prepared in case of an emergency?
Here at Nanima Preschool, we have really strong partnerships with our local community and stakeholders. Our emergency evacuation plans and emergency evacuation booklet are put together in consultation with Nanima Preschool, Wellington Aboriginal Lands Council and Dubbo Council Emergency Services.
By working together, if an emergency does happen at Nanima Preschool, the preschool, families, Nanima Village and council all know the procedures and evacuation meeting points.