Why become an Assistant
Whatever your stage of life, whatever your background and experience, L’Arche has something to offer, and so do you. We believe that as we live our ordinary moments together in Community we experience something extraordinary and develop long lasting relationships.
People choose to volunteer and live in L’Arche as an Assistant for a variety of reasons. Some are mature individuals wanting to give their lives new meaning through genuine and trusting relationships with others. Some come to L’Arche to learn or develop new skills and attitudes to people with an intellectual disability. Others may be professionals seeking a new context and deeper meaning within which to practice their chosen career. L’Arche are Christian communities which welcome people of all faiths and none; if you are hoping to develop your spiritual life there will be opportunities through regular worship, prayer, retreats and pilgrimages.
Whoever you are, in return for the gifts you’ll bring, you will discover a very simple and honest joy in the relationships you build with other people, both with and without intellectual disabilities. L’Arche is unique. We are an exceptional quality care and support provider, our model of support is congruent with State and Territory quality care frameworks and we offer people a way to live their faith in a Community. Excellence in care and a commitment to living Community life are essential. Find out more about what you can expect if you become a Live-In Assistant.
What is an Assistant?
The main pathway to being part of a L’Arche Community is by becoming a Live-in Assistant. A live-In Assistant is someone in living with shares and creates home with people who have intellectual disabilities (the term we use in L’Arche is Core Members) and other Assistants; a home which reflects values of personal dignity, celebration and honest relationships.
A live-in L’Arche assistant supports Core Members to take part in the local life of the community. In your household, together you cook, clean and run a household; perhaps you support people in personal care, to go to work; support Core Members to maintain their social life, maintain contact with their friends and family. Most Communities have a range of regular events that you will be actively participating in. Not all Assistants are live-in and many people who are part of the Community also work as a live-out Assistant. Each Community is different and has developed services that are particular to the needs of the people it supports. Some Core Members are supported to live in their own flats, supported by a network of paid and non-paid relationships.
The role of Assistant is engaging, complex, challenging rewarding and a way for you to secure new knowledge and skills. Find out about the benefits of becoming an Assistant click here.
What Benefits can I expect?
Becoming an L’Arche Assistant is an extraordinary and life changing experience. There are some things you need to consider if you are interested in joining one of our Communities:
- Core Members (the people with intellectual disabilities) who make it their home determine the rhythm and culture of each L’Arche household.
- As a live-in L’Arche Assistant you are asked to be an active member of the Community, this means a limited amount of personal time, including in the evenings and weekends.
- Some Core Members can express frustrations through challenging behaviours. There is support available and this can be a great opportunity for you to develop new skills.
- You may be asked to support Core Members with their personal care.
- You will be expected to do housework. We have a saying in L’Arche – everyone needs to be prepared to clean the toilet!
- L’Arche is a Christian Community. We welcome people of all faiths, or none, but we expect you to be open to all aspects of other people’s spirituality. We also expect you to respect our values and support our prayer traditions through participation.
- It is important to understand that in the Australia L’Arche communities are faith communities and a professional Support Provider. We are regulated and inspected, and must legally meet set standards. This means we have to insist on a level of competence and expect all assistants to undergo initial and on-going training.
When you join a Community…
When you volunteer in an L’Arche Community we will do our best to welcome you and support on you journey and lifestyle. What can you expect?
- Live-in Assistants receive food, accommodation, formation, holiday time and a personal allowance.
- Generally, when you arrive to the community we ask you to develop relationships with people in the household and as you deepen your friendship you will be asked to take on responsibilities.
- During the first few weeks you will be meet with a member of the leadership team every week.
- You have the option of working towards a Certificate III in Disability Work, which can be completed over 18 months as part of the L’Arche Australia Fellowship.
- You are expected to attend sessions, known as ‘Formation,’ which includes the history of L’Arche, your Community, the people in the Community you live in and questions around L’Arche values.
- After 12 weeks you will be welcomed into membership if you decide to stay in the Community.
- At the end of each year, we meet with you to help us plan with you, your goals and priorities for the coming year.
- We expect you to participate in our mentorship programme called ‘Accompaniment’. This gives you the opportunity to meet with your mentor for one hour every month. This is usually set-up after the probationary period review.
- Like all L’Arche members, you’ll be encouraged to have interests, connections and friends within the wider community of your town or city.