Small NSW town revived with young families
The Sector > Economics > Affordability & Accessibility > New life in tiny NSW town thanks to early learning and young families

New life in tiny NSW town thanks to early learning and young families

by Freya Lucas

October 26, 2023

Young families are bringing life back to the small south western New South Wales town of Pooncarie, with seven students transitioning from early learning to the local school, a signal that the town’s future is bright. 


During and after the Millenium Drought, which ran from 2001 to 2009, the population of Pooncarie halved, families left the community, and the local primary and preschool were forced to close. 


Since that time, however, young families have started returning to the town, and the school has reopened. Last week seven young children participated in transition visits, which help children to move from early learning to the world of school.


Caitlin Hickey is one of the young families who have moved to Pooncarie from Broken Hill with her husband two years ago to run the local pub. She spoke to The ABC to share her story. 


“Neither of us had ever been to Pooncarie before that and we didn’t know anybody in the town moving here but the publicans at the time mentioned the school had reopened and that there was a preschool set to open the following year,” she said. 


Between 2016 and 2021, the town experienced a “baby boom” with the number of families in the town growing from 27 to 37. 


There are already so many children, Ms Hickey said, “and there are so many in the future to come, and still so many babies being born,” she added.


When the primary school reopened last year, only two children were enrolled in kindergarten, but this year there will be eight, with projections that the school will have 20 students by 2028.


School Principal Allison King said the presence of the school and preschool in the community was a powerful driver for families to remain in the community. 


Without the school, many parents would have faced the prospect of travelling up to an hour each way to the next closest primary school or opting for remote learning.


To access the original coverage of this story, please see here

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