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We were lucky to have the opportunity recently to chat with all-round dynamo and warm-hearted Director of the Acacia Fitzroy Crèche, Deniz Dilruba. Acacia Fitzroy Crèche is located in the heart of Fitzroy (inner city Melbourne) where staff provide a high-quality, inclusive and nurturing program to children from 40 different cultural backgrounds. It was an absolute joy to speak with Deniz, and we hope you enjoy this conversation where she champions her team, her community, and how she uses School Stream as a platform to support inclusivity and communication between her families and staff. 

*Edited for length and clarity.

A massive “Thank you” to Deniz for taking time from her hectic day to share her insights. 

Support an inclusive school community with School Stream with our gold-standard translation feature. See what we do.

Thank you so much for taking time out of your day today. I know how busy you must be. 

I am happy to have a chat and to celebrate School Stream. Oh, can you hear that? That’s my kindergarten teacher. She’s saying, “We love School Stream!” 

How many children are at your centre in Fitzroy? 

We have 55 children every day. 

As a community-based organisation, the way you work at Acacia seems very much grounded in inclusion. Is that a fair observation? 

Yes, yes. Definitely. 

What does that look like in action for your staff and for the families in your community?

It’s not just that we are located near the towers*, (*Editor’s note: The high-rise public housing in Fitzroy is home to more than 2400 people and approximately 60 language groups are represented.), we have a lot of other professionals who have come to Australia to work, and they are vulnerable too. Vulnerable in that they are new in Australia and don’t know the services available to them in this community. People need to know that there are services for families, for parenting… For example, if your child needs the dentist there’s a dental hospital around the corner where they see children for free – even if they are not residents. That’s the kind of thing I post on School Stream. 

So, Brad says you’re an absolute champion with School Stream.

(Laughs) Brad is my mentor! We use the platform to get information out and we are very mindful about how we upload the content because we want families to translate it into their home language. I understand that PDFs don’t (translate on the app), so when we speak to community organisations, we ask them to send any information in a Word document and then I can tell new families or families I don’t know well how they can translate it. We do this for holidays, if there is a gastro outbreak, that kind of thing. 

As the Centre Director, how do you use School Stream?

When we first got School Stream, everybody said I need to be the only one to post and be the final person to read everything. But I really don’t like that. I don’t hold myself up as the ‘pinnacle’. I trust my staff, and if you trust somebody with a role, then you know they are going to post things that are appropriate. I want to get our staff used to the idea that they can post things that are important to our families, children and community. What I do encourage is that one other person needs to look at it to make sure the grammar is correct. 

I believe in my team. We’re very good and we have zero turnover (of staff). I have a lot of women and men who work here who come from vulnerable communities. When they come to work, we need to be able to arm them with things that are easy – not dumbed down – but to provide platforms they can work on.   

Fantastic. You mentioned that you really love sending notifications, and you’re obviously using the translation feature. What else are you doing with the app?

One of the things that we’re also using School Stream for is when our educators observe children through the week, they’ll look at the experiences, new knowledge and any other ideas that are coming through and the educators can communicate (via School Stream) to our families that this is the learning taking place here, and from there, we like to engage families to participate in the educational program.   

On the staff side, we’re really growing the use of School Stream as a staff portal. We use it almost like a resource library. Just before we talked today, I set up an amended staff roster there, and we include any training that’s coming up. We have family folders and, as you know, we have three centres, so I can send information to all of them or just our centre – which is great.  

What would you say to other centres or schools that are thinking about using School Stream as their communication platform?

I looked at other apps before we made the decision to go with School Stream. Even though other apps were more expensive, I looked at the way the app translated information (into other languages) and it wasn’t as good – and that was one of the most important things for us. 

The biggest thing that helped me make the decision to take School Stream was the team that comes with it. Whoever is doing the hiring at your end is doing a fantastic job. Everyone is really good and believes in what they are doing. The team is wonderful and so supportive. With so many other platforms the level of support is just not there – but with School Stream, you know you can call someone and the person in your office will take the time to help you. 

I wanted a platform here that everybody could use, regardless of their level of competency with IT and technology. I have a woman working here who is 65 years old and she’s just learning to use a computer – and she can use School Stream! So that was another important thing for us. 

It sounds like you’re providing a really connected, safe place for the kids in your area.

It’s an amazing place. This is a great community, and it has so much to offer its people – I absolutely love it. I grew up in this area, so I am really passionate about it.

Thank you again to Deniz from Director of Acacia Fitzroy Crèche for chatting to us.


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