Centipede at Glebe Public School Inc. is a community based, charitable organisation that has been providing ‘before and after school care’ and holiday programs for students at the Glebe Primary School since 1989. The care that Centipede provides includes meals, (i.e., breakfast and dinner) and social development opportunities for local Glebe Public Primary School children. It is not just a child-minding service; it is an accredited educational facility with trained early childhood educators in charge.

Since its inception Centipede has differed from most other Out of School Hours (OOSH) centres because it serves the particular needs of this special community. The children who attended were formerly drawn mainly from the Glebe Estate, and included a significant proportion of families which struggled to pay fees for the service. But here is where Centipede’s special care emerges; it has a policy of not turning any child away, even when their families are unable to afford to pay for their care.

Consequently Centipede, although in receipt of significant funding through government grants programs, was still struggling to pay staff adequately and provide some of the extras that better-funded private organisations could. With this in mind The Glebe Society Inc began and continues to run an annual fundraising event in support of Centipede, our Sunset Soirée. We are doing so this year on 12 October, and you may find details on the flyer included in this Bulletin.

Since the Glebe Society became involved in its supporting role Centipede has undergone significant development as a community service provider. Just as the number of families in Glebe and surrounding suburbs continues to grow, so the number of children attending Glebe Public School and consequently Centipede has also risen significantly. From an attendance of 25 at Centipede three short years ago, today there are over 70 children utilising the service. This figure is up from 50 children in just one year. Of necessity much greater demand has been placed on the provision of staff and facilities. But it is not merely the weight of numbers that is changing; it is also the ethnic and social composition of the children. Where children originally came mainly from the Glebe Estate, the school and Centipede now draw attending families from a much wider area. This includes children from Ultimo, Redfern, Chippendale and Central Park. Consequently there has been a commensurate increase in the diversity of family backgrounds amongst the student population. Today there are children from more than 30 different national origins at Centipede, including those from China, Brazil, Chile, Congo, Sierra Leone, the Middle East & Israel. Thus the diversity at Centipede reflects the diversity of the wider community, but the proportion of Indigenous Australian children attending is still between 20 and 30% of the service users.

While many of the newer families are able to pay fees in full there are still those who cannot. Just as Glebe has a significant number of refuges and interim housing facilities for families escaping domestic violence and other difficulties, so children resident with these service providers are frequently enrolled at Glebe Public School and Centipede too. As a result there remains a need to raise additional funds to ensure that all children attending this iconic Glebe service have an equal opportunity to benefit from the well-known advantages that early childhood education provides for the growing individual.

All contributions to Centipede at Glebe Public School are tax deductible due to its status as a charitable entity, but if you would like to support this Glebe Society community outreach why not take advantage of the fun and frivolity on offer at the Sunset Soirée on 12 October? The modest entry price of $20 per person can be credited towards the $100 annual membership of the Friends of Centipede subscription, which is one of the significant ways in which funds are raised. Please see the flyer for booking information, and I look forward to welcoming you at this delightful event. Let’s keep Centipede sustainable!