Children from refugee backgrounds living in the Bankstown area will enjoy crayons, craft, free play and singing as they get ready for school in Australia thanks to Anglicare and their local Anglican Church.
Anglicare launched its Early Learning Through Play (ELTP) program this October in partnership with St Paul’s Bankstown Anglican Church with up to 16 children and their families now attending the program.
Assistant Minister at St Paul’s, Grant de Villiers, says the partnership has enabled the church to begin a playgroup ministry to an ethnically-diverse group of women.
“Many new migrant families and refugees are settling in Bankstown, so the program will help their kids transition to school,” says Grant. “We think this is an important way we can connect with and serve our community for Christ.”
The ELTP program uses play-based educational experiences to help children aged three to five years from refugee and migrant families prepare for the Australian school system.
Roberta Perkins, Anglicare’s ELTP coordinator, hopes to create a safe environment to support the entire family through the program as they settle in Australia also.
“ELTP gives parents an opportunity to improve their English skills. We can also give them practical support, and referrals to other services if needed. Importantly, we hope to provide a sense of belonging in their new home,” says Roberta.
The partnership with Bankstown Anglican Church is Anglicare’s first ELTP Parish project, with others anticipated to start next year. Each group will support up to 20 preschool aged children and their families. The ELTP Parish project is part of Anglicare’s Syrian Refugee Response.
“Refugees are among the most vulnerable people in our community and this is one way, an effective and practical way, to reach out to them with the love of Christ,” says Roberta.
The sessions are free for families and are held during school terms. Currently other Anglicare ELTP sites include Fairfield Schools for Community, Yennora Public School, William Dean Public School and South Granville Community Centre.