We would like to acknowledge the Noongar people
who are the traditional custodians of this land.
Sudbury House is based in the suburb of Mirrabooka which is an area of great diversity as well as an area of significance to Aboriginal people. Many of the surrounding suburbs are named using local Aboriginal words. Mirrabooka takes its name from an Aboriginal word used to name the constellation of the Southern Cross. The dreaming states the sky deity “Mirrabooka” was the name of an old man who was granted eternal life by the Biami spirit to help him watch over and care for the tribal lands. www.astronomy.pomona.edu
det.gov.wa.au www.wikepedia.com www.stirling.wa.gov.au
Sudbury House opened its doors to the community in 1986, providing and Education and Care Centre as well as a range of community access programmes. Supported by the funding by the State Government, it has a history of providing much needed services to the community of Mirrabooka and surrounding suburbs.
Back in 2011, things were not going as well as they had in the past, with circumstances and decisions bringing Sudbury house to a cross road. Despite positive intentions and a strong desire to succeed from the Sudbury House team, the Centre was at serious risk of closing its doors to the community. The situation required critical review and strategic intervention to support a shift in the operational direction.
As the pressure of this very stressful situation grew the Chairperson of the Sudbury House committee recognised the need for immediate and effective support and guidance, and so spoke to Jane Chilcott, CEO of Linkwest, to request assistance. As a member of Linkwest (the Peak Body for community neighbourhood and learning centres in Western Australia) Sudbury House was able to tap into Linkwest’s experience, guidance and wealth of knowledge. It was arranged that Jane would attend a Sudbury House Committee meeting.
Initially some committee members were hesitant about Linkwest’s involvement and were unsure of Linkwest’s purpose and intention regarding the future of Sudbury House, at the meeting, Jane was able to provide information and assurance about Linkwest and what they could offer.
This initial meeting was to mark the beginning of a shared journey based on real commitment from Sudbury House and Linkwest to re-establish Sudbury House as a strong community provider. Slowly goals began to take form; to build the capacity of Sudbury House as a strong community provider. Slowly goals began to take form; to build the capacity of Sudbury House as a sustainable organisation; and meet the identified needs of children, families and communities. The shared journey stimulated a process of critical review, learning and development for both organisations. ‘ I believe in working with Sudbury House we have successfully supported them from a state of crisis and high degree of negativity to a thriving and growing community service with a much more positive outlook’ Jane Chilcott CEO Linkwest(2014)
Linkwest and the Sudbury House Committee recognised that finding and recruiting the right person for the position of Sudbury House Manager was a critical first step. In 2011, Virginia Aden was appointed to the role of Service Manager. In addition to standout experience, skills, knowledge and a belief in meeting community needs, Virginia brought with her a strong work ethic, a passion for advocacy and a deep belief in the strength of individuals and community. She was, and remains to this day, committed to working with the team at Sudbury House to re-establish the Centre as a thriving community place that welcomes and values all who step through its doors.
The journey from that first meeting between Linkwest and the Sudbury House committee has not always been straight forward. There have been many hurdles to cross along the way, including staffing issues and financial restraints. As Virginia (now Sudbury House Executive Manager) shares ‘ When I came on board there were limited established professional networks or access to effective and consistent professional development for the team. I also felt the possibilities for up-skilling of the community were not being explored as well as they could be.’
It was also identified that the team in the Education and Care Centre at Sudbury House at that time was not as aware f ley changes in the Early Childhood Industry as they should have been. This was impacting on their capacity to meet new requirements and maintain a high quality child care programme. Having said that, the Education and Care Centre continued to be accessed by local families.
As Alzeena, one of the mothers using the service, shares; ‘As a single mum trying to study and earn an income I found Sudbury House child care was very supportive and accommodating of my family’s needs and I’m not sure what I would have done with them. My older son still talks about Sudbury house ad remember the fun he had there.’