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Moving Forward Standing Strong

A History of Early Childhood Education in South Australia

Exhibition 3 - 27 October 2023

photos from de Lissa collection

Early childhood education in South Australia has a remarkable history closely tied to the women who understood and fought for the right of children to have an education. From the first public kindergarten demonstration in the garden of a house in Medindie to Australia’s first Aboriginal woman principal, South Australia has strong ties with early childhood education. Explore the history of the Kindergarten Union of South Australia (KUSA) and its influence over changing social and political ideals. Learn how teachers were taught to teach. Discover how persistent advocacy from leading educators in South Australia brought quality early childhood education to generations of our children.

Some of the extraordinary women included in the exhibition are:

  • Lillian de Lissa - a key figure in the establishment of the Kindergarten movement in South Australia;
  • Doris Beeston - the first paid General Secretary of the Kindergarten Union of South Australia;
  • Kathleen Mellor - the foundation director of the Lady Gowrie Child Centre in Thebarton;
  • Nancy Brumbie - South Australia’s first qualified Aboriginal kindergarten director;
  • Alitja Alice Rigney - Australia’s first Aboriginal woman principal; and,
  • Amy Levai - South Australia’s first qualified Aboriginal teacher in the education department.

The exhibition features items from the University of South Australia Library's de Lissa Association Collection and History of Primary Education in South Australia Collection along with memorabilia from UniSA Education Futures and the families of Alitja Alice Rigney and Amy Levai. Explore this rich history through historic photographs and memorabilia along with books, toys and other teaching objects used in classroom.

Exhibition details

3 - 27 October 2023
Open weekdays 9am - 6pm
Free entry

Kerry Packer Civic Gallery
Hawke Building Level 3, UniSA City West Campus
55 North Terrace Adelaide

Presented by The Centre for Research in Educational and  Social Inclusion with The University of South Australia Library

Photographs of items from the de Lissa Association Collection, UniSA Library 2023