Bermagui Preschool is a not-for-profit community-based centre that has just received $476,252 from the Bushfire Local Economic Recovery Package to create a therapy and counselling room.
The room will provide one-on-one trauma and resilience counselling for children, families, and educators.
It will also offer a space for children to work with speech, occupational therapists, vision and hearing screenings and child psychologists.
The space will be set up to also be able to be used for a quiet retreat for overwhelmed children and will have cubby nooks, soft furnishing, sensory spaces, and resources.
Bermagui Preschool provides four integrated services for around one hundred local children. They offer preschool programs, long day care, before and after school care and vacation care for children between the ages of six weeks until 12 years of age.
Director Narelle Myers said that the long-term aim of this project is to provide much need mental health service to strengthen the resilience and well-being of their community, specifically targeting vulnerable children and families.
Bermagui and the surrounding communities have limited access to face-to-face professional counselling and therapy and this new facility would aim to increase the ability for regional areas to access mental health support and services.
Psychologists and counsellors will be regularly visiting the service to provide much needed support on a regular basis and guest speakers will include representatives from NSW Southern Area Health, Head Space, Save the Children and other counselling services.
There will also be specifically designed sessions for children attending the service such as therapy-based art, storytelling, play therapy, cooking, and gardening.
"When our children learn this at such a young age then these lifelong skills will help them with any future stress, anxiety and trauma that may present in their increasingly complex lives," said the preschool in a statement.
The grant money will also be used to create an outdoor weather learning area will make the Preschool building and premises more resilient to the ongoing affects of drought, floods and bushfire threat.
It will also improve access for children in wheelchairs and give children more autonomy to choose a learning area regardless of environmental factors.
To support the mental health and well-being of the preschool teachers, part of the funds will also be used to create an educators retreat for the purposes of lunch breaks and respite, a study desk and access to a separate outdoor courtyard.
A bathroom refurbishment will also provide toilet access to those using these spaces. The current bathroom for children is over 40 years old, with many of the original fittings.
The inclusion of a separate cubicle will give privacy and dignity for older and shy children, as well as their increased number of educators and visitors.
With only one adult toilet currently within the Preschool, the addition of another toilet cubicle will expand our capacity to cater for increased number of adults using the service.
All of these projects will increase the value of this community building and asset.
"We are delighted and thrilled with the funding approval and the acknowledgment of the importance of Early Education and recognition that quality programs targeting under 5 year olds have long lasting positive impacts for the children, families and the broader communities they live in, said the preschool in a statement.