An appeal has been launched to help Lutheran Community Care restore its Kwatja Etatha playgroup in Alice Springs, which was recently stripped of its funding by the Federal Government.
The funding cut has forced LCC to stop running the successful playgroup, which gave hundreds of disadvantaged children in Alice Springs a positive start in life.
Local families and the Lutheran community in Alice Springs have been devastated by the closure of this ministry, so it is hoped a one-off appeal can raise $200,000 to get it running again.
For 10 years, the playgroup focused on getting children ready for primary school and encouraged parents to interact with them through structured activities, supporting their learning and development.
The playgroup was held five days a week at Alice Springs Lutheran Church and targeted Indigenous children aged zero to four, but people of all backgrounds were welcome. About 30 children would attend each session at the church.
A mobile van also provided sessions to four town camps (Little Sisters, Hidden Valley, Karnte and Larapinta Valley) and the community of Amoonguna, 21km from Alice Springs.
Over the years, Lutheran Community Care’s staff worked incredibly hard to build up the playgroup to the benefit of many families. All staff in this ministry were Indigenous and had a deep knowledge of culture and understanding of language. Sadly, eight staff members, all local Aboriginal women, lost their jobs when the funding was cut.
Local knowledge and language were vital factors in providing a comfortable and welcoming environment. Many families also viewed the church as a safe, neutral place to meet, and this connection resulted in a number of playgroup children being baptised at the church.
Another reason for why the playgroup was so successful was that a bus could pick up and drop off families around Alice Springs, allowing those without vehicles to get involved. Children were also provided with healthy foods and were taught about daily routine, while parents enjoyed mixing with other parents.
Congregations are being encouraged to support this appeal during the SA-NT Convention of Synod in May. The offering at Sunday worship will be donated to the appeal and delegates/pastors can bring their church/parish donations with them.
Lutheran Community Care asks that you join your hearts with theirs and donate to this ministry, so it can continue to reflect God’s love in the Alice Springs community.
Individual donations can also be made to this appeal. If you would like to help give children in Alice Springs a positive start in life, contact Lutheran Community Care on (08) 8269 9333 or visit www.lccare.org.au/donate-now.
READ MORE STORIES ABOUT Central Australia