Banyan Park – Building project update
The last few months have been a flurry of activity for everyone involved in Banyan Park, and saw the completion of phase one of the Banyan Park redevelopment, the ‘big move’ of all the resources and equipment to the new building and relocation of the original Banyan Park building.
The Norfolk Island Pistol Association and a team of builders prepared the original building so that it could be relocated to its new home at Anson Bay. The building was cut into 5 sections and moved over 4 days, which of course took centre stage through town over that period. We thank the Pistol Club, the relocation team, the police and the community for their patience and support throughout the process, which was emotional for many.
Two community groups have mutually benefited from this relocation! The Pistol Club gained an indoor range, and space has now been cleared so the 4th Banyan Park pavilion, accommodating children 0-3 years old, can complete the ‘Awas Letl Salan’ project. This construction phase has just begun and should be completed by December.
The New Facility
The new buildings are everything we hoped for. An official opening won’t take place until the entire centre is complete, so informal (pre-arranged) visits are welcome!
The new centre includes two new play rooms, a fantastic children’s bathroom, commercial grade kitchen (a requirement under the incoming regulations), staff rest and programming space, laundry and bathroom facilities and an entry hub with Director’s office and storage.
The playground, though still a work in progress has come together beautifully and draws inspiration and materials from natural elements on the island. A creek bed meets a huge sandpit, and a wooden tee pee and stepping gum tree trunks are nestled amongst the native trees. It has easily the best view of any early learning centre, anywhere (we think)!
The new facility has been purpose-built for early childhood and provides facilities which suit the children, and the staff who educate them. Importantly, it has ensured local parents are able to access the much-needed fee relief associated with early childhood education and care. We have reached a record 50 total enrolments, with the centre already at capacity (35 daily enrolments) on several days per week. The quick uptake of positions is due to the reduced cost, and increased quality of care and education enabled by the new facility.
The project has been funded by the Australian Government's Building Better Regions Fund, along with a significant contribution by the Tony Redstone Foundation, which was donated to Banyan Park several years ago
With growing enrolments, the team of staff at Banyan Park has also grown! Our Director, Emma, has accepted a permanent position with Banyan. We feel fortunate every day for her experience in leading our centre, and the creation of such a high quality learning environment has enriched the preschool education provided. Vinnie, Sandi, Leilani and Lisa have also continue to provide amazing commitment and care to the children, and went more than the extra mile during the busy April school holidays - packing, cleaning and moving, as well as providing the ‘business as usual’ child care and vacation care at the school – a challenge in itself. A huge thank you to the team who do so much for auwas letl salan. We are also very grateful to NICS and Principal, Brett Carr, for so generously allowing us to use their facilities during our transition period.
Paige Adams has recently joined us as a Certificate III qualified educator. One of our goals in creating the new centre was to encourage our young salan to return, with the prospect of employment in a high quality and purpose built facility. We’re overjoyed this has happened already, and we hope it will continue! Banyan also gains Ally as a casual staff member. She comes to us from Melbourne, and also holds a Certificate III in Early Childhood Education and Care. As we move into accommodating the 0-3s, we will need quite a few more educators on the team, so get in touch if this is something that might interest you!
Thank you to the Norfolk community
The project team and Banyan's management committee are grateful to the Norfolk Island community for their continued positive feedback, support and ongoing commitment to Banyan Park. Banyan Park has become a rite of passage for most locals - a ‘place’ where most people have attended as a pre-schooler for the past 40 years. Through this process of redevelopment, it will be a place awas letl salan gwen continue to groe en lern thru plieh into the distant future.