Jarjum Centre Lismore - Strengthening Early Childhood
Jarjum Centre is an Aboriginal preschool that has provided accessible and inclusive early education and support in Lismore for the last 40 years. Jarjum’s wraparound services include more than education for local children and families.
Jarjum offers culturally appropriate services for Aboriginal children, who comprise 95% of their enrolments, promoting a strong sense of identity and connection to culture. A trauma-informed program is implemented through additional supports including allied health service delivery onsite. Jarjum families are also assisted with parenting support, family conflict and court matters, hospital visits, financial literacy, crisis support and advocacy, all of which contribute to reducing instances of removal to out-of-home care.
“The Jarjum relocation project is a great example of non-traditional partnerships working together, with the best interest of community groups in mind. It’s been a privilege to see our vision come to reality through this process.” Maurita Cavanough, Director, Jarjum Centre
Jarjum is highly respected and valued by the Lismore community, and community members are affectionately referred to as ‘Jarjums’ long after they have attended the preschool. The Centre is led by Maurita Cavanough, a Bundjalung woman well-known for her passionate approach to community capacity building, early childhood education, transformative Indigenous education and mentoring.
For many years, Jarjum operated in a sub-standard building without the space or capacity to meet the local demand. In 2019 Jarjum acquired a block of land in a peaceful suburb, and prepared to construct a new, purpose-built centre for their children and families to stay safe, learn and thrive.
Including VFFF, six funders came together to back the $1.8 million construction project; the NSW Department of Education, the NSW Department of Communities and Justice, Social Enterprise Finance Australia (Sefa), CAGES Foundation and the Indigenous Land and Sea Corporation.
With the new Centre, Jarjum is able to enrol their waiting list, and triple their capacity to prepare Jarjums for successful transition to kindergarten. The Centre opened in early 2022.
“Sefa met Jarjum in 2016 and since then has worked with Maurita and a range of dedicated partners on building an applied social impact framework and blended capital structure to triple the centre’s capacity. Many of Sefa’s blended deals require patience, persistence and a good measure of passion but this one is very special to the entire Sefa team. We have been alongside Jarjum on their journey to set up a new home from the very beginning and are immensely proud to see the centre opening its new doors to welcome many more students in the years to come.” The team at Sefa.
“The Jarjum relocation project is a great example of non-traditional partnerships working together, with the best interest of community groups in mind. It’s been a privilege to see our vision come to reality through this process.”
Maurita Cavanough, Director, Jarjum Centre