Canberra 40 MEDIA RELEASE 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 [...]
Address: PO Box 107, Black Rock Vic 3193
Phone: +61 3 9589 6953
Community Leader: Cameron Cutts
Board Chair: Rob Nichols
L’Arche Melbourne is the newest of the L’Arche Communities in Australia. We are a community of over forty people who are committed to living the journey together. Traditionally L’Arche communities in Australia have been centred around households where folk with and without intellectual disability live together sharing daily life. Here in Melbourne we are living L’Arche in new ways:
- We have a have a “House of Welcome”, in the Melbourne bay side suburb of Black Rock. Here, Gerard and Cameron offer hospitality and support to the members of our Community with an intellectual disability, their families and other folk who are part of our Community. This can take the form of people coming over for a coffee, a meal or a few nights stay.
- We go to people’s homes to spend time with them when there is a need or sometimes just for fun!
- The whole Community gathers once a month at the local Uniting Church Hall. At these gatherings we spend time sharing stories, exploring a theme, praying and sharing a potluck meal. We’ve had poetry soirées, walked a labyrinth, watched the sunset on the beach, sung songs and danced. It is at our Gatherings that our whole community comes together.
- We are particularly connected with the families of the people with intellectual disability in our community. We recognize that ageing parents supporting and loving their sons and daughters with an intellectual disability often live a hidden life of anxiety and exhaustion. As a Community we offer two reflection days a year, just for parents, to have some time to connect, reflect and share. We are committed to building relationships with the parents of our members with intellectual disability
- We are supporting our members with intellectual disability to connect with services that enable them to have a good life.
- In addition to maintaining our current community, we are working towards having some of our members with intellectual disability come and live with us.
We are a diverse Community of people from many different backgrounds; we have poets, gardeners, buskers, business people, ministers, dancers, homemakers, lawyers and students. Why not come and share a cuppa with us and say G’day, we look forward to meeting you.
L’Arche Melbourne Newsletter
You can view our latest newsletter as a PDF.
The dream, the goal of a L’Arche community in Melbourne has been an aspiration of many groups for over 25 years. Jean Vanier himself was here in the late 1970s giving 2 inspiring retreats. Then, in the 90s, members of L’Arche Sydney visited and provided us with more impetus. A public talk in 2000 by Eileen Glass, illuminating the spirituality of Jean Vanier, added more momentum.
From these beginnings, a group of people with previous involvement with L’Arche began to meet regularly to plan, to pray and to dream. It was November 2001 when, at last, we put the serious questions to ourselves – what exactly do we have to do now to start a L’Arche community in Melbourne? A committee of 10 was established the following year, to develop strategies and work systematically towards our goal. We were incorporated, office bearers elected, charity and tax-deductible status established, accounts opened, subcommittees created for planning and development, The Ark Group, The Spiritual Life Group, fundraising and publicity were all established.
In 2003 Friends of L’Arche, Melbourne achieved “project status” within the Federation of L’Arche, giving us access to the support, experience, expertise and guidance of L’Arche Australia. The following year, we were able to find a Community Leader, Fiona Horsburgh. Fiona had been living in a L’Arche community in Scotland for 9 years and was happy to return home to Victoria. Fiona became Melbourne Community Leader early in 2005. In June 2006 we settled on Black Rock, in Bayside Melbourne, as the location to found our community. Gerard Bennett and Fiona established a “House of Welcome”. With support from Catholic parish of Beaumaris/Black Rock, we have taken a 20 year lease on a beautiful parish house. It was also at this time we were recognized as a service provider by the Victorian Department of Human Services (DHS)and funded for a project officer position. In 2007 after establishing the house Fiona returned to Scotland and Cameron Cutts from L’Arche Sydney was invited to become our Community Leader. In November 2008 L’Arche International welcomed us into the Federation as an official L’Arche Community and we became L’Arche Melbourne.