Murrin Bridge Preschool now open
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Murrin Bridge Preschool Community Hub officially open for business

by Freya Lucas

November 02, 2023

The Murrin Bridge Preschool Community Hub was officially opened last Thursday after a five year period of design, consultation and construction. 


Murrin Bridge, near Lake Cargelligo, in the NSW Central West, is a former Aboriginal mission that is home to less than 100 people.


An innovative project, the Hub is the result of joint efforts between the Murrin Bridge Local Aboriginal Land Council (MBLALC), The Murrin Bridge Preschool Association, The University of Technology Sydney (UTS) and Multiplex Construction, after funding was secured by UTS via a Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet grant.


The Hub will provide residents with a range of services, a place for cultural activities, and a space for community gatherings. Centrelink, health, family, youth, housing and employment services have all been consolidated within the building, which was designed by a number of UTS academics, including UTS School of Architecture Senior Lecturer Urtzi Grau and former UTS Lecturer Guillermo Fernandez-Abascal, UTS Senior Lecturer in the School of Architecture, Dr Campbell Drake, alongside Supercontext’s Andrew Daly.


As a result of the works the preschool will now cater for up to 57 children, up from 25.


“The emphasis is on enhancing cultural strengths, improving access to essential services and, ultimately, boosting education, employment and community health and wellbeing,” explained Murrin Bridge LALC CEO Judy Bartholomew.


A number of workshops were held with the community to understand the needs of the people the facility would serve, including consultations with preschool students who crafted scale models of their ideal classrooms, Dr Drake explained. 


“These young voices played an important role in creating a space that embraces their needs and aspirations.”


Three landscaped zones are found in the outdoor space of the hub, and much of the design was guided by Aboriginal Elders in collaboration with UTS Landscape Architecture lecturer Saskia Schutt.


“It was really important to ensure the design created a safe and appropriate setting for the Aboriginal community, and that’s only possible if you deeply engage with the cultural needs,” shared Allan Teale, who worked as an Indigenous Academic Lead and Advisor for the project.


“There’s an edible woodland featuring mixed small trees and shrubs like quandong and wattles, a craft zone and a medicinal, ceremonial, and spiritual zone comprising mixed small-medium trees and shrubs like Native Apricot, Wilga, and Emu Bush.”


Mr Teale discovered his First Nations heritage at 40 years of age, which traced back to Murrin Bridge. He has since made lifelong connections within the community. 


“My background is in property development, and I wanted to find a way to use my skills to help bring about meaningful change for the community,” he explained.


The Murrin Bridge project was also a way for TAFE NSW students to gain real world experience, with 12 First Nations trainees gaining a Certificate II in Construction whilst working on the project, with Ms Bartholomew likening the facility to “a symbol of unity and community progress.”


“The community’s been heavily involved from day one in the planning of this, and that means it really belongs to the Murrin Bridge community and is designed to meet our needs.”


This piece draws on coverage from Architecture and Design, UTS and the ABC, which may be accessed using the links provided. Pictured: UTS students with Murrin Bridge residents. 

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