The Melbourne University Family Club is a small parent-led childcare centre, founded on the belief that each family contributes to the success and growth of the centre and its programming. Families take great pride in being active members of our community, knowing that their contribution helps us to enhance and enrich the learning not only of their own child, but of every child in our centre.
We are proud to offer a considered learning environment that caters for a diverse range of children and their families. With our emphasis on ensuring that the co-op is a safe and caring place to be, children are able to grow and express themselves happily and confidently.
Our educators work to the best-practice Victorian Early Years Learning and Development Framework, and support children’s learning by using a play-based curriculum that focuses on the children’s interests and passions. In this way, our educators are able to devise learning activities that promote and extend all areas of development; our approach is not only educational, but fun and interesting.
We are a proud co-operative and believe that family plays an important role in a child’s learning and development. When a child and their family become part of our centre, they become part of a community of learners. We encourage families and educators to work in partnership to create a learning environment that encourages children’s growth through self-awareness, self-discovery, self-regulation and an overall feeling of self-worth.
The Family Club emerged out of circumstance rather than design. First established as a crèche in North Carlton in 1965, the Melbourne University Family Club was at the time a leader in the area of providing parent-managed childcare to families from the university as well as from the neighbouring community. The club incorporated as a co-operative in 1968 and has been in the same building on Cardigan Street in Carlton since 1971.
The co-op has a strong history of providing significant support and information to women who had families and a career in the late sixties and early seventies — a time when these services were not readily available in the wider community.
The original motivators for The Family Club were advancing career opportunities for women, combined with a belief about the best way of raising children.
The key proponent was a resourceful medical student, Fedora Trinker. Her school careers advisor had discouraged her from accepting a position at the university, because she was a woman and – so went the thinking of the time –would want to leave the workplace once she was married; this advice, duly ignored, inadvertently led Trinker into a long career of resisting advice about what was impossible.
While studying, Trinker had married a fellow medical student, and as she neared the end of her degree, she became pregnant. Trinker did not want to step away from her degree, which would only have served to confirm the view that women should not take up degrees with limited quotas. Trinker found ten other families at the University of Melbourne in a similar situation. These families met for the first time on 26 May 1964, and formed the Melbourne University Family Club as a society of the University of Melbourne Union. The Family Club then operated as a day-nursery and kindergarten for children, run by the commitment and voluntary labour of its members. By the end of the 1960s, the club had transformed from a voluntary organisation based around improvised management into a viable centre with professional operations.
"The small group sizes and high ratio of staff to children enable staff to take the time to really get to know each child and offer them plenty of opportunities to extend their learning from the earliest of ages."