In 2018 we will be focusing on the following:

    1.Continuing our playground upgrades and classroom upgrades.

  1. 2.  Completing a RAP for our organisation.

  2. 3.  Developing our partnership with CCSA to improve leadership and service management.

  3. 4.Extending on our programming to incorporate more reflection and parent involvement. and to make this learning more visible in the rooms.                              

Annual Report for Girrinbai  Community  Preschool for the year of  2017.

Annual Report for the Year 2017 A Year In Review Presented at our Annual General Meeting inMarch 2018.

Over the last few years since non-equity three year old children were not funded at preschool we have had vacancies at the commencement of the year. However with the implementation of Start Strong Funding we were able to significantly reduce our fees for the commencement of 2017which enabled our centre to fill all vacant positions. We welcomed this new funding increase which enabled us to open with full enrolments from the commencement of the 2017 year.

Along with this increased funding, there was a requirement that we must reduce our fees by 75 percent of the extra funded money that we received. This was a very welcomed funding package by our families as it enabled our centre to reduce our 4 year old children’s fees to $25.00 per day and reduce our Aboriginal and Low income families to $10.00 per day. This significantly helped to reduce the gap in ensuring that fees are not a barrier for Aboriginal and low income families. This funding requirement from the Government enabled our centre to return our fees for Aboriginal families back to what they were in 2015 .I was very pleased with this new funding to support or Aboriginal and low income families .

We were also able to provide more funding support to 3 year old children whom were no longer eligible for funding relief  unless they were an equity child (Aboriginal or low income). This enabled our centre to decrease fees from $68.00 per day to $42.00 per day which also helped to ensure that we had full enrolment capacity. We will need to continue to loby the Government to ensure that they listen to recent research which shows that all three year old children benefit  from attending a quality education and care service for two years.

Start Strong Funding officially commenced from the 1st July 2017. In February there was a new census to report changes to our operating hours. From the commencement of 2017 in line with Start Strong requirements we changed our core operating hours from 8.30 to 4.00pm instead of the traditional 9.00 to 3.00 programme. This provided greater hours for our families to achieve the required 600 hours that the State Government set in order to receive our funding. It also required us to make changes to starting and finishing hours of staff to cater to the extended hours.  I was anticipating receiving a further increase in funding after I completed the February Census Data Collection only to find that the Government had already taken our operating hours to be from 8.30 to 4.30 – which included our extended hours. I was disappointed in this as we clearly only operated our core hours between 9.00am and 3.00pm and offered extended hours outside of these operating times.  I raised my concerns here at a Departmental Meeting and found that this also effected other services too. Our extra funding that we were expecting was already included in our first funding agreement.

In 2017 I enrolled our centre in the start strong support programme. This enabled us to have specialized support to ensure that we passed on the 75 percent of funding increases to our families. Services were to be audited at the end of the year to ensure that we met the funding criteria. Whilst the funding increase was very welcomed by our service it also impacted on the service as we started our year with a major loss from the previous year and we could not use this increase in funding to overcome this loss.

Late in 2016 the management committee made a choice to seek professional support for the committee as the demands of managing an early childhood service was becoming too difficult. New regulations and laws pertaining to early childhood has significantly changed over the past few years which made volunteering on a committee very challenging for our families. Community Services Central Management was engaged by our service to ensure that we  were supported through the Start Strong Changes and to support the committee with proper governance issues. It was a wonderful welcome to me as a Director as I was provided with a professional network of Director’s who are also assisted by CSCM. CSCM have provided our centre with independent reviews of all the quality areas that we must adhere to. This support is excellent as it ensures an external body that specializes in Early Childhood is supporting our centre. It is a requirement for funding that services have a Quality Improvement Plan. CSCM have provided our service with policies and procedure to ensure we remain a viable service. As a service Director for over 30 years it is wonderful  to know that a not for profit early childhood body is providing Girrinbai with the professional guidance that is now required under the national law.

In 2017 we welcomed Fleur Robinson to our centre. Fleur commenced the year as an Early Childhood Teacher working on a Monday and a Tuesday in the Coral Room. Fleur previously taught overseas and at the Grammer School in Sydney. Fleur holds a Bachelor of Early Childhood as well as a Master’s of Special Education and as we support several children with additional needs in our service Fleur’s extra qualifications in special education will assist  our centre in the development of programs and resources over time for our children with additional needs.

In 2017 due to funding changes and changes in our operational structure Girrinbai also said goodbye to our Office Secretary Neen Searle. Neen had worked at Girrinbai for 17 years and during that time Neen had supported me in my role as Director working in partnership with me to achieve the centre’s goals. I want to thank Neen for the 17 years of service to Girrinbai and I know that she will be successful in her future career.

During  2017 we also said goodbye to Amanda Harvey as our funding had been decreased and we could not offer Mandy a permanent position at Girrinbai. Due to this Mandy decided to pursue a more permanent position at another service. Mandy had worked at Girrinbai for 8 years and during this time she had worked with many children in the role of inclusive educator. Mandy was excellent in this role and she provided individual support over the years. Mandy also was our technical officer and created many innovative projects during this time. Our beautiful ipad tables were a result from Mandy negotiating with the Men’s Shed at Belmont to achieve the wonderful tables in design.

At the conclusion of 2017, After much thought and discussion, Jenny Maguire  also decided that she would submit her resignation from a permanent position at preschool to work in a casual position due to lifestyle changes.  Jenny was an outstanding educator and I am so glad that she will still be continuing her work at Girrinbai in a casual role.

The hardest role of a manager is developing and nurturing quality staff but also allowing them to spread their wings when the time arises.

In  2017 Karen Johnstone applied to many grants in order to increase our funds to purchase additional equipment in the centre such as the new round tables and all chairs within the classroom. Various funds were also raised to purchase a new cover for the sand pit area.  At the conclusion of 2017 we were notified by the Communities Partners Programme that we were successful in obtaining funds to be able to repair and replace the soft fall in our playground. This is very much needed.

In 2017 our preschool was selected to contribute to the National PDSP Training Programme for Early Childhood Services.  This was a wonderful accolade to our service and in particularly to our talented Educators working with additional needs children. It also endorsed the way the parents are supported in our service through our programmes and procedures before enrolment and  throughout their engagement with us. Our contribution was related to the way that we support families with children with multiple disabilities and the strategies used to support families and the child through inclusive practices.

In 2017 I applied for funding through the Lake Macquarie Council to support NAIDOC Week. This application was successful and unfortunately Steph from Buudja Marrung due to family circumstances could not present the NAIDOC activities as planned so Steph helped us to organise  ‘Working in Colour” to come and perform workshops with our children on dance and art. We are hoping that in 2018 Steph will be back on board with us again.

In 2017 I was invited to attend the NSW Educational Standards Authority to develop modules to help support beginning teachers on their progress to becoming proficient teachers. In NSW Early Childhood Teachers (In our service Fleur, Gillie and myself) have to continue to develop our teaching skills and complete many hours of teacher supported courses to be able to continue teaching in NSW. It was a privilege to be invited to represent a small number of teachers to develop these modules.

Training is essential for continuity of learnt skills and throughout the year staff attended many training events.

We commenced the year with a wonderful workshop with all staff and CSCM presenting training regarding our centre’s philosophy. This workshop enabled us to develop a new philosophy for our centre and then seek parent input on changes to this philosophy. Our philosophy board was developed to showcase how we embed our philosophy in our practice.

We also participated in a behavioural workshop  in the April school holidays which enabled us all to refresh our training in supporting children with behaviours of concern and reinforcing positive behavior. The training enabled staff to look at reasons why behaviours occur. We always focus on the positive in children and guide the children in what to do at preschool. This training helped us also to discuss overcoming any bullying that we see in the preschool years.

Gillie, Fleur and Lyn participated in several in-services throughout the year in line with Teacher Accreditation requirements.

All staff participated in first aide training at the end of 2017 to ensure that they are kept up to date with current first aide training methods.

QIP Plans

In 2017 our main focus areas were:

1.To develop a new safety checklist in line with our new playground areas.

2. To engage the whole team in developing an understanding of at risk assessments and how to complete this.

3. To review our service philosophy due to staffing changes.

4. To increase the safety of the children within the service by identify areas that require extra supervision and greater staff support. To make posters to support our staff’s awareness here as well as support casuals when they attend our service.

5. To embed sustainability in our programme- with a broader focus other than just with recycling.

6. To increase our governance in our centre through a partnership with Community Services Central management.

As part of our connection to community Gillie organised a wonderful walk-athon to support Motor Neurone Disease. We all dressed in blue and with the support from Jewells School we were able to use the large playground for our fun walk! The day was perfect for us….What a wonderful cause.

We also supported Naidoc and Sorry Day with our families. Connection to country is very important to our preschool. We introduced a daily pledge and acknowledgement with our children. We encouraged the children to learn about Country in all of our daily aspects.

We continued to develop our wonderful relationship with Jewells Primary school. Being included in the Teddy Bear’s Picnic, Easter Parade and other events at the school is important to support a smooth transistion to school. We are so lucky to be in the grounds of the  primary school and  to develop this partnership for our community.

The successful operation of a preschool needs a wonderful collaborative staff team and through our projects over the year and support through CSCM with revising our philosophy we achieved wonderful outcomes for the preschool. Our team of educators and Teachers are very committed to ensuring that the highest care and education is provided to or community and they do this year after year. Thank you all for your wonderful innovative ideas throughout the year.

I would also like to thank Amanda Archer /Kerry Bradley and CCSM  for all of your support in my role as a Director. Having CSCM on board has enabled me to broaden my skills as a manager and also provide a professional early childhood  centre knowing that we have an independent professional group guiding our practice and helping us to achieve outstanding results for or community.

Finally in closing I would like to thank the management committee over the year for all of the time spent in managing the service in your own time.  A tremendous amount of work has taken place in the background of the centre due to many changes in legislation. Thank you Melanie Rao , Karen Johnstone, Kellie Rose, Maree Browning , Sue Walters and Alexis Lowe for everything that you have done over the past few years. Whilst 2017 had its challenges and changes were made to our operating hours and staffing…these changes were necessary to keep in line with national frameworks and standards.

As part of the new standards- governance training and support for management committees are now required and with the ever increasing demands placed on a voluntary committee the move to joining cluster organisations as suggested by the DET is a positive for Girrinbai.

This will mean that our service will continue to be a community preschool and not for profit. Our service will be supported by a professional organisation and it will enable our parents to now focus on the fun projects at preschool to keep our centre a viable and vibrant centre in our community.

I am sure that we all are looking forward to a productive and professional year working with CSCM in 2018 and beyond.


Lyn Best



President’s Report for 2017

President’s Report for 2017

2017 was a challenging year for the Management Committee, as we faced the need to respond to the changes of the Start Strong funding requirements and make significant changes to our preschool in order to secure our longer-term future. This year’s Management Committee faced tough decisions regularly throughout the year and put enormous amounts of personal time in to ensure Girrinbai’s ongoing success.

2016 saw us file a deficit of more than $37,000 for the preschool, with clear instructions from the external auditor that our financial position had to be improved in 2017, or we risked closure of the preschool. As a result, in November 2016, the Management Committee engaged the services of Community Services Central Management (CSCM) to provide governance and management support to the Committee and our Director Lyn Best. CSCM undertook an analysis of our financial position and operational practices and presented us with a framework for changes to ensure we were meeting our funding obligations and legislative requirements and also to reduce spending to improve our financial viability.

Following the implementation of these changes, further analysis was undertaken by CSCM. This identified a need to streamline and re-organise our teams to better enable us to grow, develop and maintain our financial sustainability moving forward.

The Committee agreed to re-organise the structure and outsource full Operations Support (including office administration and accounts) to CSCM. This was hoped to improve our ability to manage funds and also help us to manage our service through changes to the regulatory requirements by the Early Childhood Education Directorate (ECED) in the NSW Department of Education, under the leadership of CSCM.  

In August 2017, the Committee implemented a second phase of re-structuring which outsourced all of the administrative functions of the preschool. This was to:

Reduce the costs to the organization and improve our financial viability; and

Improve financial management and administration processes by joining a larger organisational framework (CSCM) that has expertise in these areas.

This also allowed us to receive additional management and committee support through the new package. As a result of these changes, the role of our Office Administrator, Janine Searle, became redundant. Janine worked for Girrinbai for 17 years and was sadly farewelled by staff and families alike. In addition, Amanda Harvey’s role in the office was no longer required. Mandy was offered a continuing educator role but declined the position to pursue other opportunities and took a redundancy package. 

Kerry Bradley from CSCM was appointed to manage our service and has provided valuable assistance to the Committee, Lyn and her staff in ensuring we are in compliance with the rapidly changing regulations and National Standards and better balancing our budget. All of office functions were outsourced to CSCM and a payroll officer from CSCM spent time with Lyn during the year to assist with the transition to this system.

Financial Position

The financial position of Girrinbai Preschool at the end of 2017 is much improved compared to the previous year. Whilst the auditor Graeme Pritchard again indicated that our cash reserves are “just adequate” to meet our liabilities, the 2017 deficit of $11,697 was much lower than the previous year (2016 deficit $37,862). During 2017 we had substantial payments in the form of redundancy payouts arising from the re-structure, however the corresponding liabilities for employee entitlements were also reduced.  Graeme also indicated that the re-structure and new accounting systems were headed in the right direction and an improvement on past years systems, and recommends that the preschool make a surplus in the 2018 year. CSCM have advised that after many years of sustained over spending on staff costs (compared to funding received) we need to continue to be very diligent in cost savings and financial monitoring as we still do not operate with a surplus. Our cash balances at the end of the year was $201,760 (2016 $269,706), which is adequate to pay our liabilities.

Comings and goings:

Staff: Jenny Maguire resigned from her full time position after many years but continues to work with us on a casual basis. Fleur Robinson commenced as an Early Childhood Teacher and has contributed greatly. 

Our Committee Treasurer, Karen Johnstone, resigned in November after several years serving on the Girrinbai Management Committee due to other commitments. Karen has provided hundreds of hours of volunteer time in scrutinising our accounts and balancing the books. Karen has also been invaluable in her support to me, as President and I am deeply grateful to her for her service at Girrinbai. Karen has successfully applied for many funding grants during her time on the Committee and in 2017, was successful in obtaining a grant of $20,000 from the Communities Partners Program to continue playground improvements and a further $1,000 to replace tables and chairs for the children.


The Management Committee also held numerous fundraising activities throughout the year, including an Easter raffle, Mother’s Day and Father’s Day stalls, and a Bunnings Barbeque and the end of year Christmas party, all of which combined raised approximately $7,000 for the preschool.


I would like to thank the Management Committee of 2017 for their unwavering support and dedication to both myself and Girrinbai Community Preschool. Without the hard work and commitment to change that they showed this year, the preschool would not be in the strengthened and hopeful position that it is in now for 2018. The work of the committee this year has been a team effort and I’m sincerely grateful for the support and hard work that everyone put in to ensure the success of Girrinbai into the future. I would also like to thank Amanda Archer (ex CSCM) and Kerry Bradley (CSCM) for their commitment and dedication to assisting the committee and the Director, through some difficult times. Without their support the changes we have made would not have been possible.

Melanie Rao

President 2017

Girrinbai Community Preschool Incorporated


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