Queanbeyan and 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. The Preschool was later renamed the Margaret Donoghue Memorial Preschool, in recognition of the late Mrs. Donoghue’s endeavors as president and later as patron of the Association, however, the Preschool is still known in the community as Harris Park Preschool.
The growing demand for Preschool education in Queanbeyan was met by the opening of a second Preschool – South Queanbeyan Preschool, in November 1973. This Preschool was later renamed Waratah Preschool. The Preschool was built with funds raised by QDPA, whilst Queanbeyan Palarang Regional Council retains ownership of the land.
The demand for Preschool places continued to grow in Queanbeyan and this led to the opening of White Rocks Preschool, which operated from the YMCA building during the late 1970’s and early 1980’s.
In 1980 it became apparent that the maintenance effort at Harris Park Preschool was becoming unattainable, and it would require a great expense to bring the building up to the standards required in the 1980’s. The Association investigated the possibility of constructing a new and larger Preschool centre on the original site. With an estimated cost of $180,000.00 the association approached Queanbeyan City Council for assistance. An agreement was reached between QDPA and council, with the Association contributing $30,000 toward the cost of a new building and undertook an agreement to pay commercial rent to Queanbeyan City Council for the use of the building. A new two classroom Harris Park Preschool building was opened in November 1983.
Also, in 1980 the Association became known as the Queanbeyan & District Preschool Association (QDPA), with the establishment of a Preschool at Captains Flat. The White Rocks Licence was transferred from Queanbeyan YMCA to a site at Captains Flat. This Preschool was originally operated from the old Picture Theatre at Captains Flat, which was being used as a Community Hall. In 1990, after fundraising by QDPA a new purpose-built Preschool was established at 27 Foxlow Street, Captains Flat on Crown land and the Preschool was moved. In 1990 the Preschool was renamed Jingera Preschool. However, in 2016 after years of running at a loss, Jingera Preschool at Captains Flat was closed by QDPA.
In 1987 QDPA 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 premise from the church.
The demand for Preschool places continued to grow and after years of lobbying various state governments, QDPA was finally successful in gaining a grant of $850,000 to expand Harris Park Preschool. In 2012 Harris Park Preschool was extended into a 4-unit Preschool and the four classrooms began operation in January 2013. Due to the continued growth of the Association, in January 2016 the Association elected to employ an Executive Officer to oversee operations of Preschools across QDPA.
In 2020, the Association purchased a former Family Day Care and a Community Centre located at 181 Cooma Street, Karabar. This was made possible through years of careful budgeting and fundraising by the Association and extensive searching for a suitable site. In 2021, renovation/construction commenced on the fourth Preschool comprising of three Preschool classrooms. Following consultation with Ngambri Land Council and seeking community input, the name Mura Preschool was selected. The ability to progress with this project was assisted by receiving a capital works grant of $600,000 from the NSW Department of Education.
Mura Preschool received its licence and opened in March 2022.
The Association holds future plans to include the construction of a fifth preschool within the Association in the future as the region continues to grow and develop.