Little Yuin Aboriginal Preschool director Lea Sutherland feels she can now retire thanks to the preschool being in the best financial position it’s been in years.
After more than 30 years in the early childhood education sector, including the past 11 years at Little Yuin, she is finally ready to retire and move on to a new chapter in her life.
But she wants to make sure the preschool remains in good hands and started a search for a new director to take over when she leaves in December.
“A lot of people think Little Yuin will close its door when I leave but I would like to put it out there that the preschool is in the best position its been in the entire time I’ve been working here,” Ms Sutherland said.
“It’s a great time for me to leave because the preschool is in a really good financial position. Before its been difficult for me to leave because I have been worried it would close its doors. It’s great that it is in this position after we have struggled to keep it open over the years.”
The preschool has filled out all its licenced places with 20 youngsters currently enrolled and a waiting list for others. Ms Sutherland is proud that it is the last Aboriginal managed preschool on the Far South Coast.
“It’s really important to find a great replacement but I am confident we can find someone wonderful, not only to take my place but allow Little Yuin to reach its full potential. It’s got lots of room to grow,” she said.
“It’s important for this community and for the Aboriginal people of Wallaga Lake that they’ve got a preschool on their land.
“We’ve started to advertise for the position and we are casting the net far and wide to find the best person.
“It’s been a real joy working with the children in this lovely setting and Little Yuin really does have a lovely feeling about it. When people walk through the door, it has a family feel and its been a mother to a lot of children.
“Aboriginal people are wonderful to work with – they really are resilient and open to everything. I’ve really enjoyed the challenge of working in this community as well.
“We have a long-term and committed team of educators here. We’ve got really good staff and the preschool is really committed to the children.”
Merrimans Local Aboriginal Land Council chairman Ken Campbell thanked Ms Sutherland for her hard work over the years and said the Wallaga Lake community was sad to see her leaving.
“She’s done a good job and she’s stuck with it. Our grandkids have all been there, as well as a lot of other Koori kids and other kids,” Mr Campbell said. “It’s been good and we want to keep it going.”
In other changes at the Wallaga Lake Koori Village, Merrimans land council CEO Anne Greenaway has this week retired.
Mr Campbell also thanked Mrs Greenaway for her work and said the council was about to advertise for a new CEO.
“Hopefully we can get someone as good as Anne,” he said. “She’s fixed up our books making them up to date, which is what we’ve needed.”