The Montessori Children’s Foundation furthers Montessori’s vision for children by supporting projects in Indigenous and Remote communities throughout Australia. Programmes empower both children and adults through Assistants to Infancy, parent education, Primary, and Elementary classes. Tuition and scholarship assistance is available to train community members to staff these programmes. The Montessori Children's Foundation (MCF) has been established to Champion the Cause of all Children and to: Uphold the rights of the child in society and make known the child's importance for the progress of civilisation Promote the Montessori approach as a means to achieving peace and social reform Raise funds and allocate them to projects that are designed to alleviate hardship faced by children and provide opportunities for children to develop to their full potential.
Aurukun, Cape York, Queensland
A school holiday programme has been run twice yearly in Aurukun since 2009, for children between 3 and 6. The programme was warmly welcomed by the Aurukun Council, and given solid support by the Koolkan Childcare Centre. MCF is engaged in discussions for the future expansion and operations of the Childcare Centre to meet the needs of an expanding population of pre-school aged children. The needs are particularly acute in relation to babies. The core of the proposal is to establish a 0-3 programme, with provision of training and mentoring to Aurukun workers, with the likelihood of being able to increase the range of programmes over time.
A partnership has been established between MCF, the Pormpuraaw Council, Pormpuraaw Paanth (the organisation currently running the community's childcare centre) to jointly improve and operate the Pormpuraaw Childcare Centre, with the support of the Queensland Department of Education and Training, and the Queensland Office of Early Childhood Education and Care. The support of mentors and the provision of training have resulted in new work arrangements and a rapid transformation of the physical conditions of the centre, as well as establishing some clear routines and activities for children each day, based on a Montessori approach to early childhood education and care.
Torres Strait Islands, Queensland
In 2008, extensive consultations were held with Tagai State College, and with the Thursday Island community, including offering of a Montessori assistants' course led by an international Montessori trainer, to ensure that the Montessori approach to early childhood education was well understood. In 2009, the first Montessori early childhood programme was established at Tagai catering for students aged three and a half to four and a half, constituting a Montessori alternative to the pre-prep programme also offered by the school. The programme commenced in January with more than twice the anticipated number of enrolments. The programme was expanded in 2011 to a second 3-6 classroom and the establishment of a 6-9 programme.
Also in 2009, Tagai State College applied for and secured Commonwealth funding to trial a support and development programme for children in the earliest years of life and their parents and carers as part of the Far North Queensland Families First in Early Education project. The Tagai programme, implemented in 2010, was modelled on Montessori principles, and combined a playgroup approach with parent/carer education and support within a specially prepared environment designed to foster children's development across all domains.
Following a detailed consultation with all of the island communities to seek their support, the Torres Strait Islanders' Regional Education Council (TSIREC) voted to proceed with an early childhood programme in partnership with MCF, and secured Commonwealth funding to open new Montessori 0-3 programmes on a further six islands in 2011. A Memorandum of Understanding between TSIREC, MCF and Tagai State College was developed to guide the partnership. The programme, known as Strait Start, is now in operation on Thursday Island, Badu, Malu Ki'ai, Kubin, Erub, Poruma and Iama.
Kiwirrkurra, Western Australia
Kiwirrkurra, a tiny community in the western Gibson Desert, home to some 200 people, was established as recently as the 1950s, for Pintupi people who had only recently made their first contact with Europeans. It is the most remote community in Australia, set in the vast surrounding desert country, stunning in its beauty and variety. Through the wonderful initiative of the junior school teacher, a Montessori 3-6 programme has been established, with materials and professional development support provided by MCF.
Redfern, New South Wales
The Gamarada Playgroup commenced in 1998 on Eveleigh Street, Redfern and has relocated over the years to Redfern Public School, Bourke Street Public School and now the Redfern PCYC. A new Board has been recently appointed to assist the Gamarada programme in Redfern. Barbara Stephen, Director of the Gamarada Redfern Montessori Learning Centre devotes her life to promoting the wellbeing of children across all cultures and is dedicated to quality education to enhance the human potential. In 2003, Barbara was awarded "Citizen of the Year" by South Sydney Council for her tireless contribution not only to local early childhood education but also to the community at large.