Provider in Focus - Dame Nellie Melba Kindergarten
The Sector > Practice > Preschool > Provider in Focus – Dame Nellie Melba Kindergarten

Provider in Focus – Dame Nellie Melba Kindergarten

by Freya Lucas

March 03, 2023

Dame Nellie Melba Kindergarten is an Exceeding-rated 55-place sessional kindergarten which provides education and care for three and four-year-old children in the Melbourne suburb of Richmond and surrounds. 


The kindergarten was one of the first purpose-built kindergartens in Melbourne, with opera singer Dame Nellie Melba as patron, and is a not-for-profit incorporated association managed by an elected committee of parent volunteers who are elected each year at the Annual General Meeting. 


The committee is made up of the following roles:


  • Executive committee (president, vice-president, treasurer and secretary)
  • General committee members
  • Human resources
  • Grants and submissions
  • Policies and procedures
  • Newsletter
  • Maintenance
  • Marketing
  • Information technology (IT)
  • Working bee coordinator
  • Historical records.


There are also sub-committees, including events, social and fundraising.


The history of Dame Nellie Melba Kindergarten


On 23 July 1915, due to the inadequacy of the local crèche, a committee was formed to establish a free kindergarten at St Stephen’s Jubilee Hall. The founding committee resolved to ask Madame Melba to be patroness and they applied for affiliation with the Free Kindergarten Union (FKU). The kindergarten commenced operations shortly after. 


During the war years, Dame Melba was a regular visitor to the kindergarten and she presided over the Annual Meeting in 1918. In 1919, to mark the peace celebrations, all the children received a commemorative medal. 

In 1928, when the Church Hall had become inadequate, the Goodwood Street site was purchased, construction commenced and the new building was opened by Lady Somers in 1930.


“Our kindergarten has been part of the Richmond community for over 100 years,” a kindergarten spokesperson said.


“We aim to reflect what makes Richmond a vibrant and interesting locality, and is much like the suburb itself: both old and new, exciting and quiet and celebrating a diverse culture.”


What is the Dame Nellie Melba vision and approach to learning? 


Celebrating imagination, curiosity and play


“We have a holistic view of children’s learning and development and celebrate the wonderful ability of children to play and turn seemingly small discoveries into opportunities for creativity, joy and learning. A fallen tree branch can become a rocket ship, a raised block might be a galleon travelling over the high seas and holes dug in the sandpit can form a new civilisation,” the spokesperson said.


Promoting young spirits’ self-discovery


The kindergarten believes in promoting children’s individuality and their ideas and abilities. The team encourages autonomy and independence and celebrates the certain special magic each child brings to the early-learning environment, instilling in every child the belief that they can achieve all they want and extending children’s expectations of themselves.


“We value the flexibility and creativity of an evolving curriculum where the children’s interests and passions set the foundations for learning outcomes that are relevant, interesting and functional for them,” the spokesperson added. 


“With purpose and passion, we promote independence and agency, empowering children to have input into and ownership over the world and the home and away from home, that is their kindergarten.”


Supporting purposeful, educator-led learning


The Dame Nellie Melba team believe that play is also the context in which children learn. Educators ensure this learning incorporates music, science, mathematics, language, motor skills, creativity as well as social skills. 


“Maria Montessori wrote that ‘play is the work of young children’ and Erik Erikson maintained that ‘the playing adult steps sideward into another reality; the playing child advances forward to new stages of mastery.’ Our educators guide this process and invite children to investigate, explore, share and delight in the sheer joy of learning,” the spokesperson added. 

Are there any unique aspects to the Dame Nellie Melba Kindergarten offer? 


As well as offering a sessional service program, which offers early learning experiences during school terms, Dame Nellie Melba Kindergarten offers extended hours sessions, a playgroup program, and Bush Kinder options. 


There are two three-year-old programs – the Honeyeaters (Mondays and Wednesdays) and the Kookaburras (Tuesdays and Thursdays) which run from 8:30am – 1:30pm, and two four year-old programs – the Rainbow Lorikeets (Mondays and Wednesdays) and the Currawongs (Tuesdays and Thursdays) which run from 8.30am to 4pm.


After the kinder sessions, parents can opt to utilise the extended-care programs (Wattlebirds) as well as the Friday Robins program.  


To learn more about Dame Nellie Melba Kindergarten, visit the website

Download The Sector's new App!

ECEC news, jobs, events and more anytime, anywhere.

Download App on Apple App Store Button Download App on Google Play Store Button