New Outdoor Kinder Offering On-Country Learning for First Nations Children

29 January 2024


The Hon Linda Burney
Minister for Indigenous Australians


Senator Jana Stewart
Labor Senator for Victoria


Senator Raff Ciccone
Labor Senator for Victoria



First Nations pre-schoolers in a small Victorian Aboriginal community will return from the summer holidays to a new and locally-designed outdoor kindergarten, offering cultural learning activities and adventures on-Country, thanks to a grant from the Albanese Government.


Lake Tyers or Bung Yarnda, is on the south coast of Victoria, on the lands of the Gunaikurnai people.


The Commonwealth’s $45,000 investment means 3-5 year old kindergarten kids will have a tailor-made outdoor learning and playground, offering;


  • a bush tucker garden,
  • play equipment,
  • mud hut and yarning circle, and;
  • artwork, including a rainbow serpent mural path.


Works on the Lake Tyers outdoor kindergarten are almost complete, with kinder kids already excited to explore their new playground.


An official opening will take place next month after the kinder term resumes for the new year.


On-Country adventures including nature walks with Traditional Owners and Elders are also planned for 2024, giving the littlest First Nations learners in Lake Tyers the chance to strengthen their connection to Country, culture and Gunaikurnai heritage.


Mum Nicole Morgan says her three-year-old son Ari is already looking forward to going back to kinder with his friends in 2024 when the new cultural playground and outdoor learning centre is complete.


“Ari absolutely can’t wait to get back to kinder! The entire community is so excited to see our children develop their connection with culture and Country, while being able to play and explore their surrounds.

“As a family, we’re thrilled that Lake Tyers offers a culturally-led early learning kindergarten where the little ones can learn about their ancestors, the unique plants and animals - and be proud of who they are and where we live.”


Quotes attributable to Linda Burney, Minister for Indigenous Australians:


“The Albanese Government is committed to supporting locally-led and culturally-appropriate programs, including early childhood learning.


“The Commonwealth is proud to fund Lake Tyers Aboriginal Trust’s outdoor kindergarten, where the community, its cultural identity and heritage underpin the preschool’s early education program for the littlest First Nations learners, to thrive.”


Quotes attributable to Jana Stewart, Senator for Victoria:


“This is such an exciting investment. The Albanese Government is supporting local families in Bung Yarnda to ensure our youngest learners get the best early years education.  


“This funding doesn’t just give our littlest mob a new locally-designed kindergarten and playground, it will also help facilitate their connection to Country and culture.  


“The Gunaikurnai lands are a beautiful part of our nation, with a long and rich history. It cannot be understated how critical outdoor learning and On-Country adventures will be to First Nations children along the south coast.”


Quotes attributable to Raff Ciccone, Senator for Victoria: 


“The Albanese Government’s support for this locally-designed outdoor kindergarten in Lake Tyers will make a positive difference for First Nations pre-schoolers.


This $45,000 investment will support cultural learning experiences and adventures, and is another example of the Albanese Government’s commitment to supporting First Nations communities in regional Victoria.”


Quotes attributable to Natalie Beveridge, Lake Tyers’ kindergarten teacher:


“The Lake Tyers kindergarten is locally-designed to integrate Gunaikurnai culture and history, with practical ways for children to remain connected to Country.


“We’re building a bush tucker garden, a mud kitchen with a yarning circle and our Gunai Kurnai culturally-painted concrete serpent path to welcome the kids at the entrance.


“With the Commonwealth’s funding, this outdoor kindergarten is already bringing all of us – teachers, parents, community and of course the children – pride and joy.


“Having a dedicated, stand-alone kindergarten with outdoor learning creates an opportunity for the children to become adjusted to the structure of primary school. 


“Kindergarten plays a critical role in helping young children prepare for – and adjust to –school life, which is more structured.


“Having a fun, engaging and creative learning environment – outdoors and inside – is the perfect start for children’s education journey.”


Quotes attributable to Mikila Sharkie, CEO Lake Tyers Aboriginal Children’s Services:


“2024 will be a monumental year for Lake Tyers Aboriginal Children’s Services. For this first time since the childcare opened over 30 years ago, we’ve built a dedicated kindergarten for pre-schoolers, while the day care centre – where the kindy was until September 2023 – is now exclusive for the under 3-year-olds.


We know that early childhood education provides important opportunities for learning, development and social experiences; but what makes Lake Tyers kindergarten unique is the connection with Gunaikurnai culture, Country and history which are important foundations for little people to grow-up with a strong sense of identity and pride.


“That’s why the Lake Tyers community is so excited to be watching the final touches being added to the outdoor kindergarten, and seeing our little learners play, learn and develop their First Nations identity.”