In 2006, Father Don Edgar and Yolette De Zilwa, were becoming increasingly concerned about the educational difficulties experienced by secondary school-aged children of families with language backgrounds other than English.
They were particularly concerned with those students from Sudan and the Horn of Africa, who had recently arrived in Footscray and surrounding areas. Many of these children had only had minimal, or severely disrupted, formal schooling. They needed significantly more time than was allocated (by the Government) at English language schools, to acquire the basic concepts and skills necessary for successful transition to mainstream education at an age-appropriate level.
River Nile Learning Centre was founded in 2006. The Centre began providing education services to students from Sudan and the Horn of Africa from its original campus in Footscray in 2007.
Since then, River Nile Learning Centre’s focus has broadened to young refugee women, especially those who are pregnant or have small children.
At the start of 2012, River Nile Learning Centre moved from Footscray to Queensberry Street, North Melbourne.
In late 2013 and through 2014, it piloted an Asylum Seeker Program in response to an approach from the Red Cross.
To provide for growth to meet the strong demand for unique our service, we moved to Capel Street, North Melbourne, in late 2015.
In late 2016 the River Nile School was established and given authorisation by VRQA to run an Independent Specialist School offering Senior VCAL to girls of school age in a major step forward for the organisation.
Father Don Edgar OAM
Don has been an Anglican priest for more than 40 years. He has both a passion for, and background in, education and has worked extensively with the Sudanese community.
Don is a founding member of both the River Nile Learning Centre and its Committee of Management. Don was awarded an Order of Australia Medal in 2009 for services to the African community.
He supported RNLC until retiring in 2013 and remains active in the Sudanese community.
Judie Bainbridge OAM
Judie Bainbridge practised as a solicitor, managed a specialist medical practice and, until November 2009, managed the Sudanese Welfare Office at St. John’s Anglican Church in Footscray.
She was a member of RNLC’s CoM from its inception in 2006 until 2013. She was RNLC’s Director from 2009 until 2013 when she retired. She continues working with the Sudanese community in Melbourne.
Judie was awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) in 2015 for service to the community, particularly to refugees and human rights organisations.