Lady Forster Kindergarten (LFK) was established in 1924, originally in the Salvation Army Hall in Spring Street East, Port Melbourne to ‘advance the welfare of the children of the local community.’  

Lady Forster, the wife of the then Governor-General of Australia, officially opened the kindergarten in December 1924 and had a particular interest in the establishment of early childhood centres across Australia.  

The Free Kindergarten Union,  presided over at the time by Ada Mary A’Beckett, was instrumental in the formation of Lady Forster Kindergarten and was at the forefront of the early childhood education movement in Melbourne.  She had a major role in instigating many significant early childhood initiatives including the establishment of the first Kindergarten Teachers College (now part of Melbourne University), the formation of a national association for early childhood (which evolved to Early Childhood Australia) and was one of the original trustees for Lady Forster Kindergarten.  

Ada Mary A’Beckett was described as having a ‘single-minded devotion’ to work for the preschool child.  She was credited with building the preschool movement in Victoria and establishing public interest to the needs of children before they started school. 

We think both our namesake, Lady Forster, and the woman behind the establishment of our beautiful kindergarten, Ada Mary A’Beckett, would both be immensely proud of our continued focus and dedication to enriching the lives of all children who have graced our kindergarten over the last century.  

Throughout its history, Lady Forster Kindergarten has been a proudly community-based kindergarten.  From its establishment in the 1920’s to this day, we operate with the dedication and assistance of our broader community. Dances, fetes and fundraising efforts for the kindergarten were ever-present in the establishment and ongoing legacy of the kindergarten, and these kind of community activities are still enjoyed by our children and families today.

Lady Forster Kindergarten Today

We think our benefactress, Lady Forster, would be proud of her association with the Kindergarten and the rich history of nearly 100 years of operation.

Lady Forster Kindergarten today maintains its vision of providing children with a play-based learning program that nurtures a sense of fun and discovery, and encourages children to learn from a self motivated place of wanting to understand. Our team of dedicated and experienced staff is led by our Director, Allison Prasser and the LFK Committee of Management. LFK is a not-for-profit community kindergarten and is a registered charity.

We run two parallel kindergarten programs. In one room is the 4 year old sessional and 3 year old sessional programs and the other room is the 4 year old extended hours kindergarten room. There is a very large outdoor space where children enjoy games with bikes and rickshaws, have fun in the sandpit, make creations in the mud kitchen, get hands on with the vegetable garden and enjoy room to swing from the monkey bars, play ball games and explore our creek-bed and native planting. The children love having the space to freely enjoy – particularly as many of them live in small houses and apartments where yard space can be limited.

Ada Mary A’Beckett
Lady Forster Kindergarten -Lady Forster Photo
Lady Forster
Lady Forster Kindergarten - Historical Photo 1

LFK is an amazing community of nurturing empowerment where the kids are allowed to grow and learn and, be free to be kids. Meanwhile the grown ups are given the opportunity to contribute, network and support the community on all levels. It ticks all the boxes and then some. I could never have dreamed of such an ideal place.

Narelle Glanfield (2014)



Lady Forster Free Kindergarten is officially opened by Lady Forster, wife of the then Governor-General, in the Salvation Army Hall building in Port Melbourne in December 1924.  It is regularly attended by 56 children.

The kindergarten was established with the help of the Free Kindergarten Union, headed by President Ada Mary A’Beckett and kindergarten founder Captain Derham, whose family owned the Swallows and Ariel biscuit factory in Port Melbourne, one of the largest food producers in Australia and a major employer in Port Melbourne at the time.


Lady Forster Kindergarten serves around 65 children every day with a waiting list of at least 30 more children until funds can be raised for a new premises. It takes between about £300 and £400  a year to maintain their work (around $30,000 – $40,000 today!)


With funds raised for a purpose-built facility, largely gained through fundraising and philanthropic efforts of local women and the kindergarten’s committee, Lady Forster Free Kindergarten is officially opened by Lady Somers in June 1928 on the middle section of ‘lagoon land’ at the corner of Liardet St and Esplanade West, Port Melbourne.

Lady Somers opening the door for Lady Forster Kindergarten at Port Melbourne yesterday afternoon, The Argus 29 June 1928

Some of the children who attend the Lady Forster Kindergarten at Port Melbourne, pleasantly occupied with picture books, The Argus 29 June 1928


The kindergarten serves 90 local children and is used as a training centre.  The building itself is ‘free of any debts’, quite an achievement given it had only been built the year prior.


Generous donations from the Metropolitan Milk Council enabled children to receive half a pint of milk each day at kindergarten. This continues on well into the next decade and beyond.


Hot dinners are regularly provided for children at lunchtime.

The Daily Telegraph Sydney 19 February 1947


A toddlers group is introduced two afternoons a week for children to become used to the kindergarten environment with their mothers.

The Age 18 November 1954


Designs for a new building are created by Kevin Borland as the original building is sinking into the old lagoon land.


New building opened and remained in place until 2012 when the kindergarten moves to its present day location in Elwood.


LFK celebrates its 75th birthday.


Following a three year campaign, Lady Forster Kindergarten is relocated from their Port Melbourne origins to the current location on Elwood foreshore.  The conclusion of that campaign saw the transfer of the management of the Crown land allotments, which the kindergarten had successfully managed since 1926, to the Port Phillip City Council.


State Government policy indicates Lady Forster Kindergarten will be relocated from Elwood at the end of 2023 because of their location on Foreshore Crown land that may come under threat due to climate change.  LFK’s next campaign commences to remain in their established beachside location.

In March 2019, Lady Forster Kindergarten hosts a delegation of 18 educators from South Korea as guests of the Department of Education (DE).

Our kindergarten was selected by DE to showcase ‘play-based learning’ and nature programs to the delegation.

With support from a Bendigo Bank Community Grant, the City of Port Phillip and the hard work of a parent working bee, the kindergarten establishes a Kitchen Garden at the rear of its site. Within no time the garden is abundant and provides children with an opportunity to harvest and sell the produce back to families, raising funds for local charities.


Lady Forster Kindergarten is rated as ‘Exceeding’ the National Quality standard – again!  This rating was achieved across all seven ‘Quality Areas’ without exception – an exceptional result for everyone involved.


With the support of the City of Port Phillip and the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning, Lady Forster Kindergarten signs an extended lease to 2029 to remain at our current premises in beautiful bayside Elwood.

Lady Forster Kindergarten - Historical Photo 3
Lady Forster Kindergarten - Historical Photo 2
Lady Forster Kindergarten: History and Philosophy


At Lady Forster Kindergarten we acknowledge the Boon Wurrung people of the Kulin Nation,
the traditional custodians of the land on which we teach and learn.

We strive to create a nurturing environment where children can navigate their early childhood years with happiness and confidence.

We foster a love of active learning via our play-based philosophies to enrich each child’s learning experience and provide a foundation of sustainability, responsibility and care for our coastal environment. 

By providing beautiful, natural play spaces children can feel a connection with the land and
are encouraged to build their socialisation skills and develop self-esteem.


At Lady Forster Kindergarten, we value:

  • Inclusiveness and equity
  • Community
  • Culture
  • Environment
  • Quality

Children who engage in quality play-based early learning have well-developed memory skills, language development and are able to regulate behaviour leading to enhanced school adjustment and academic learning.