The call to establish a L’Arche Community in Perth came originally from a group of families who had been meeting for many years to plan the best possible future for their adult children with intellectual disability. A hit on the L’Arche Australia website led to a conversation with the national coordinator, who in turn put us in touch with a surprising number of people living in Perth who had lived the L’Arche experience in various parts of the world.
Meetings with these people and visits by some of our families and friends to most of the L’Arche Communities in Australia led to the regional coordinator encouraging us to form a seed group in Perth. For a year we held open public meetings to introduce the concept of L’Arche to the wider community, the aim being to form a supportive community that shared L’Arche values. We received support and encouragement from the National Coordinator in Hobart who sent videos and discussion questions to stimulate debate.
We also developed a social events program that would keep us connected as families and formed a Leadership group and a Reflection group that meets monthly to examine more deeply the philosophy behind L’Arche.
In 2007 and 8 the regional coordinator and spiritual leader, Eileen Glass were brought to Perth by the Edmund Rice Centre for Social Justice to conduct L’Arche-based Retreats.
The group is fortunate to have the support of Roger Herft, Anglican Archbishop of Perth who is the Anglican representative on the International Federation of L’Arche. He attended some of our meetings and through him we were able to spend time with Jean-Christophe Pascal, the International Coordinator of L’Arche who was in Australia in 2007.
In 2008 we were granted Friends of L’Arche status and appointed a mentor, Catherine Carah, former founder of the Brisbane Community. A Board of Management was appointed at the inaugural AGM in May ‘09.
In 2009 and 10 we offered L’Arche-style weekends for our core members so they could experience what living L’Arche is really like. These weekends are always celebrated with a Community Night Pot Luck Supper.
Through Rev Sephen Gibbs, strong links have been forged with Crosslinks, a group of intellectually disabled people, their family, friends and other supportive people that meets for worship and fellowship on a monthly basis. In 2009 two members of our Community joined the Jean Vanier retreat in Trosly, organised by Hunter Friends of L’Arche, and another family made a private retreat there in 2010
To create community relationships and support around core members and their families.
Following a facilitated meeting with Community members to hear their dreams and aspirations for a Community in Perth The Friends of L’Arche Board developed a strategic plan, which aims to:
• Expand Community membership, including ‘Marketing’ or ‘Announcing’
• Secure financial viability
• Establish a geographic location – ‘a place where we belong’; ‘a house of welcome’.
• Engage a Coordinator
In 2013 the Community Council has planned two ‘L’Arche–style’ weekends away for up to 10 people at Irene House, 13, Alexandra St, South Perth in May and October.
Community Nights, in the form of a Pot-Luck Supper, are held on the first Sunday of every month (except for March and October) at Earthwise, 315, Bagot Road, Subiaco
A Reflection Group meets on the last Wednesday of each month
Crosslinks Service for people with disabilities and their supporters occurs every third Sunday of the month at St Nicholas Church Hall, 84-6 The Boulevard, Floreat.
A Fundraising Committee meets regularly to plan events that engage the wider community and support our cause.