First Preschool – Harris Park Preschool
Queanbeyan & District Preschool Association (QDPA) was formed in May 1950, when a public meeting was held to elect a management committee that would work towards setting up a preschool centre in Queanbeyan. For a cost of £1900 ($3800), a weatherboard building was constructed on the grounds of an existing park in Queanbeyan named Harris Park. The preschool was officially opened in March 1952 and later renamed the Margaret Donoghue Memorial Preschool, in recognition of the late Mrs Donoghue’s endeavours as president and later as patroness of the Association. However, the preschool is still known in the community as Harris Park Preschool. Harris Park Preschool was then expanded into two classrooms and upgraded to meet higher building code standards in 1983.
The growing demand for preschool education in Queanbeyan was met by the opening of a second Queanbeyan & District Preschool Association Preschool – South Queanbeyan Preschool, in November 1973. The preschool was later renamed Waratah Preschool. The preschool was built with funds raised by Queanbeyan & District Preschool Association, whilst the land remains the ownership of Queanbeyan-Palerang Regional Council.
In 1987 Queanbeyan & District Preschool Association commenced negotiations with Karabar Housing Co-operative to establish a preschool within the new community complex being constructed at 191 Cooma Street, Queanbeyan. As a result, Karabar Preschool was opened in September 1988. The building was later bought by St. Matthew’s Church and QDPA currently rents the premises from the church.
The demand for preschool places continued to grow in the Queanbeyan region and after years of lobbying various state governments, Queanbeyan & District Preschool Association was finally successful in gaining a grant of $850,000 to expand Harris Park Preschool. In 2012 building work was completed at Harris Park Preschool and the preschool was extended into a 4 unit preschool – the four classrooms began operation in January 2013. Due to the continued growth of the Association, in January 2016 the Queanbeyan & District Preschool Association Management Committee elected to employ a Managing Director to oversee operations of preschools across Queanbeyan & District Preschool Association.
The purchase of the Mura Preschool site in 2020 was made possible by many years of sound financial management of QDPA, and fundraising conducted during this time. The renovation/extension of the buildings in 2021 was made possible by
- Funding received by the Department of Education through the Start Strong Capital Works Program in the amount of $600,000
- Funding received through the Community Building Partnership 2020 in the amount of $25,000 for bathroom renovations
- The QDPA Building Fund for the balance of the cost of the works
Mura Preschool received it’s Service Approval and opened in March 2022.