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 08 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.
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.
Since 2009 we have offered L’Arche-style weekends for our core members so they could experience what living L’Arche is really like.
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.
A number of Retreats have been conducted in Perth and several community members have attended Retreats in Trosly and made personal visits there.
An Outreach program called Heart2Heart was established in 2016 which links core members with a friend in the wider community.
In 2017 we acquired our first house which we use as a base for our activities and a respite facility for core members until such time as their NDIS funding enables them to call it home.