Hilton Children and Family Centre opens in Fremantle, serves as vital community hub
The Hilton Children and Family Centre, operated by Meerilinga Young Children’s Foundation, had its official opening last week, with the local Fremantle community welcoming the service as “a vital hub” for the city.
A number of dignitaries attended the opening, including:
- Simone McGurk, Western Australian Minister for Child Protection, Women’s Interests, Prevention of Family and Domestic Violence, Community Services;
- Andrew Sullivan, City of Fremantle Deputy Mayor;,
- Frank Mofflin, City of Fremantle Councillor; and,
- Bruno Camarri, President of the Meerilinga Board.
The service construction and fit out was made possible thanks to a $371,855 Lotterywest grant, presented by Ms McGurk in 2019, which allowed Meerilinga to restore the unused Kulunga Aboriginal Kindergarten, at 85 Rennie Crescent Fremantle, into a brand new community facility.
The Foundation worked collaboratively with the City of Fremantle, local organisations and businesses, and in consultation with local Elders and families, to create a modern, welcoming environment in the space, which was first built in 1955.
Hilton Children and Family Centre will offer playgroup sessions, early learning services, parenting support, and an inclusive space for City of Fremantle locals to use.
The facility will also be utilised to train up to 30 new early educators per year, across both the Certificate III in Early Childhood Education and Care and the Diploma in Early Childhood Education and Care.
Ms McGurk said it was vital for children and family centres such as these to exist in Perth, saying they embody the opportunity found in communities to create welcoming and positive spaces for people to access support.
“In our modern community, we don’t have these opportunities all the time, we live in our little boxes, we live in our little homes and we have very structured lives. We’ve got to find places where people feel that they can come forward and ask for support, meet people at a playgroup or just have a cuppa and a chat. That’s what this centre is all about.”
She also commended Meerlinga’s strong history, dating back to 1911, of working with families, understanding the challenges they face, and helping them to unlock their potential and identify opportunities for growth.
“Understanding the break-neck speed at which development happens in the early years, and the opportunities we have to nurture young people – and those people who are caring for young people and their core supports – is very crucial,” she said.
“From everything I have seen, Meerilinga not only believes in that to its core, but is committed to doing that work out there in the community.”
“We had a very difficult 2020, and here we are with the building refurbished. With the [neighbouring] PCYC and the Child Health Centre, the Hilton Harvest Community Garden and Hilton Primary School, it’s the perfect precinct here. It’s a great honour to officially open this new centre, and I’m looking forward to coming to meet some families here and having a cuppa.”
Image features, L-R: Bruno Camarri AM, Simone McGurk, Gail Mongoo, Marie Taylor, Mihi Betham, Lesley Moreschi, Betty Garlett, Cr Andrew Sullivan