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L’Arche in Canberra celebrates 40 years

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L’Arche in Canberra celebrates 40 years

The L’Arche Genesaret community in Canberra, one of the first co-residential groups for people with and without an intellectual disability in Australia, celebrated its 40th anniversary in Woden on 9 March.

More than 190 guests, including L’Arche representatives from across Australia, gathered for an evening of stories and songs at the Canberra Southern Cross Club to celebrate the milestone, which also marks the foundation of L’Arche in Australia.

Since its beginning, L’Arche has been at the forefront of radical social change spanning the past four decades. From the dismantling of institutional living, to the rollout of the National Disability Insurance Scheme, L’Arche has advocated to “make known the gifts of people with an intellectual disability”.

Eileen Glass, AM, and Kaylene Fleming, who have been friends and leaders in L’Arche since the foundation years, took to the stage together to share some stories from the first decade, working alongside first Community Leaders Dick and Margaret Bromhead and many others.

“We chose the name Genesaret (from the Gospels) to remind us of our desire to create a community of faith and of healing,” Ms Glass said.

“Kaylene, it’s a big story, those early years, and in the course of them you were part of teaching a lot of future community leaders about L’Arche. Thank you for all you have given to the founding of L’Arche in Australia. I am honoured to have shared the journey with you,” Ms Glass said on the night.

Long-term L’Arche Community Members Elizabeth Archer, Anne Walsh, Joanne Mitchell and National Leader David Treanor shared leadership throughout the evening as MCs.

Singer songwriter John Coleman, from the L’Arche community in Hobart, who has recorded a vast collection of songs expressing the spirituality and life of L’Arche, performed a beautiful selection of songs between story telling by several Community Members with and without a disability. Cindy Treanor, Community Leader of L’Arche in Hobart, joined John Coleman to sing one of her own original songs about finding a home in L’Arche.

L’Arche Genesaret is celebrating its 40th anniversary with a clear direction to open new homes for people with and without a disability this year.

L’Arche has a unique story in shared living and community building alongside people with an intellectual disability. Together the Community is looking forward to welcoming new members and establishing new homes in the next 12 months and beyond.

The Genesaret community provides a place of belonging and welcome, currently in four residential homes in Woden and through intentional and regular community gatherings and celebrations.

L’Arche Genesaret began in Bungendore in 1978 and moved to Canberra in 1980. It was the first L’Arche community established in Australia, and since then, others have formed in Sydney, Hobart, Brisbane and Melbourne. New communities are forming in Newcastle, Perth, Adelaide and Bendigo.

Communities of L’Arche challenge conventional notions of support and caregiving by promoting mutuality and an awareness that everybody is both vulnerable and gifted. This way of living goes beyond inclusion and recognises the significant contribution people with intellectual disabilities make as teachers and leaders in creating a more humane and just society.

L’Arche Genesaret operates a social enterprise in Phillip called The Hub, which offers courses and a central space for the whole L’Arche community to gather. This venue is also available for hire. For more information go to www.thehubinphillip.org.au

For more information about opportunities to join the L’Arche community in Canberra, please contact the L’Arche Genesaret office on 6282 9066 or email canberra@larche.org.au.

L’Arche Genesaret thanks the Dialogue Information Technology Group, Bendigo Bank, Clonakilla Wines and an anonymous benefactor who made generous donations in support of the 40th anniversary dinner. Thanks to Dendy Cinema for donating movie tickets and Morks Restaurant on the Kingston foreshore for donating toward one of our raffle prizes. Thanks to Kwik Kopy in Phillip and Copper Fox Digital for generous contribution of their professional services.