The Butt ‘n Ben Ilse Mueller’s Guide to Staying Sane during the School Holidays


​​​13 January 2017

“I dread the six-week holidays.” “You’re not the only one!”

Imagine paying 50 cents for someone to entertain your child for a 10 hour period!

This was the cost of daily vacation care when it was first introduced to Kwinana residents by Ilse Mueller and staff at Orelia Primary School.

​​As a long-time resident of Kwinana, Ilse Mueller has been recognised as a Medina Marvel for her dedication to identifying and responding to needs in the community and organising solutions where possible. In 1976, after volunteering to look after the neighbours’ children one summer, Ilse was inspired to create Kwinana’s first community-run structured school holiday programme.   Initially operating out of a single room at Orelia Primary School with activities aimed at children between the ages of 5 to 13 years old, the service grew to include domestic skills training workshops and became known as the Butt-n-Ben: Kwinana’s first youth centre.​


Image: Orelia Primary School, April 1970.

The name Butt-n-Ben is believed to be a Scottish colloquialism meaning “Little House”

Throughout her life, Ilse and her family have made significant contributions across a wide range of community organisations and industries.  This film incorporates images from the Mueller family archive as Ilse recounts early stories of the Butt-n-Ben.  A fuller account of the Mueller family’s activities in Kwinana can be borrowed from Kwinana Public Library.

Page reviewed: 23 Jan 2020 3:22pm