June 2022 Newsletter

National Volunteer Week is Australia’s annual celebration of volunteering. Emmanuel Centre would like to take this opportunity to celebrate and recognise the important work of volunteers and to say thank you. In this edition, we’d like to highlight one of our volunteers, Ann Page. Ann has been a volunteer here for 15 years! She is a wonderful volunteer: supportive, a good listener, and responds to the needs around her naturally. An absolute blessing!

She doesn’t baulk at a challenge and is willing to give things a go. Although normally quiet, Ann will ask and challenge us if she sees something is not right or needs doing. On the occasion when she sees a need she will buy something and donate it. Below is her story about her work with us, in her own words (edited). We thought it would be good to include some photos of her with us. But there are not many photos of her as she’s the type that works quietly and efficiently in the background. We hope the couple of photos that we did find would show us all her wonderful involvement throughout the years. The first photo was taken at one of our Monthly Deaf Nights and there she was in the background, the one making sure we’re all well fed. The second photo was taken last year on the 3rd anniversary of Fr. Paul’s passing. Ann led us in prayer at the Garden of Remembrance that day.

My involvement with the Emmanuel Centre (by Ann Page)

In August 2006, my daughter was struggling with the effects of living alone along with depression. I knew about the Emmanuel Centre, and thought it might be helpful for her to volunteer there. To encourage this, we both worked on a project together as it was overwhelming for her to do it by herself.

In March 2007, I decided to become a volunteer at the Centre 1 day a week. My daughter did not join me, as she had found some paid work.

The task that became mine was to do the shopping for the two houses that are managed by Emmanuel Centre (27 and 29 Windsor Street). The Centre had a history dating back to 1981 of helping people needing care, and a place of shelter. In earlier days, a much higher number of houses meant that there was a house carer in each. By 2007 the residents managed themselves. Every week, each resident produced a list of items they needed to make their meals, I would assess the lists, and begin by identifying whatever was already in stock. The remaining items not in stock would form the combined shopping list.

In the years that followed, I also became involved with the Catholic Mental Health Network, where small groups in parishes were set up. Regular training sessions and meetings took place, mostly on weekends. I would take the minutes at these meetings, and also deal with hospitality.

Today I am still a volunteer at a very different Emmanuel Centre. It is now 40 years since it began. Why am I still coming? I guess some kind of loyalty to the original self-help philosophy by which it has operated for all these years. The concept that each person who comes here, either as a volunteer or as a resident, has something to give, and their best endeavours, however small, must, and will be honoured.


Below are the Ladies from some of the Parishes in Perth who attended the Mental Health First Aiders Mass, followed by afternoon tea, held at the Cathedral undercroft on the 12th of March 2022.  The Ladies discussed some of the challenges they are facing with helping people in their Parishes with their mental wellbeing.

Joe O’Brien, Director of the Emmanuel Centre, informed the group that the “Do Not Be Afraid” project was still in progress and discussed some of the processes it was going through.   We would welcome more members, who have done the Mental Health First Aid Course from Parishes, to attend these meetings which are held regularly.  The problems, challenges and resolutions discussed, could help others facing similar situations.  If you are a member and would like to attend our meetings, and are not already receiving our emails, please contact the Emmanuel Centre on emmanuelcentre@perthcatholic.org.au or 9328 8113.


I’m sure most of you know of our resident deaf artist Geoff. He has a Bachelor in Fine Arts from Curtin University and he leads the Tuesday morning art class here at the Emmanuel Centre.

Since the middle of last year, Geoff has applied his artistic skills to repairing and restoring religious statues, bringing the saints back to life if they have been damaged or their colours have faded over the years. So far, Geoff has repaired two Marys (one belonging to the Legion of Mary and the other a personal owner), a baby Jesus (personal owner), and an Archangel Michael (St. Denis parish).

To give us a glimpse into his process, I asked him to describe his work process and this is a summary of what he said: First, he’ll glue back any broken parts, including gluing back statues that have been completely broken in halves. After that, he’ll use plaster to fill in any missing bits, for example the baby Jesus was missing a toe so he used plaster to give it a tiny toe to complete his foot. After that he’ll smooth down any uneven surface by sanding. And lastly is painting, which is very delicately done to restore faces, clothes, and any other parts. Geoff will match skin tone etc to the original to the best of his ability, and also add touches of paint that he thinks will improve it (eg he painted the saints’ halo in gold paint to make it more shiny).

In the attached photos, you can see some of the materials that he uses in his work (plaster, paint). And you can also see a couple of the statues he repaired. Mary was very faded and missing half her facial features when she was brought to us. After a couple of months with Geoff, she went home with a much better appearance, with her new nose job, blue dress, and gold hem. The Archangel Michael statue was completely broken in half, with a crooked lance when presented to Geoff, and he restored it to his former glory—standing over the devil that he stabbed.

The latest project that Geoff just finished is a statue of Infant Jesus of Prague (right). He said it’s tricky because after looking at how it’s supposed to look (through internet research, as shown in printed photo), he realised the small statue should have two crucifixes, one on the crown and the other one on the globe that’s held in its hand. Both crucifixes were missing, so Geoff had to build tiny crucifixes and affix them in place, before going on with finishing, painting etc. We are very impressed with the final result!

If you have any religious statues that need repair, we encourage you to get in contact with us either by calling 9328 8113 or email emmanuelcentre@perthcatholic.org.au. Please be aware that repair will take time (a few months) as Geoff only works on it part time and he needs to allow drying time in between each step of work/ each layer of paint. Geoff doesn’t charge any fee for his time, but would gratefully accept donations to contribute towards purchasing his materials (please ask if you’d like some indication of materials cost).


With Covid in the community, we have our share of members or staff self-isolating, but thankfully we are able to keep the Day Activities open and running for those that are able to come. Here are some photos to show what we’ve been up to this term.

Hodan playing Uno with Elita and Geoff. Our members are learning simple Auslan signs to be able to communicate with Geoff, for example Auslan signs for different colours in an Uno game.
Here are some of us enjoying sharing lunch together.


It is always hard when someone you love is suffering

Watching the confusion in their eyes

Knowing that its not going to get better

That their time is close

No idea exactly when

Their bodies giving out on them

Their freedom being taken away

Their frustration growing

As they struggle to express themselves

At times not knowing who you are

Other times asking for you

Then not remembering what they wanted

Still you calm them down

Listen even though it doesn’t make sense

Or they are far in the past

Their eyes light up when you arrive

Happy to see your face

Responding to your love

Love borne out of a long standing relationship

The person you remember gone long ago.

Joe (27/04/2022)

The reflection above is about my Dad.  He is 99 years old and takes a lot out of me when I visit which I do regularly. It is a struggle at times getting the motivation to go and see him.  He is my Dad so I go. 

22 years ago my Mum was diagnosed with cancer that wasn’t operable.  Dad is just 5 foot tall and Mum was nearly 6 foot and overweight.  He nursed her with a dedication that was incredible. When she got bad he bathed her, turned her and fed her without flinching for almost 12 months. He has significant problems with his legs and they are painful at times, he never complained. Finally totally exhausted he agreed for her to have some respite in a hospice where she passed away.

I have learnt a lot from Dad.  Learnt if you love someone you don’t give up.  If someone you love is fighting to look after a loved one, often you feel that you can do nothing. It is not true though, simply being around and listening is powerful. It is that sometimes silent presence that can be truly beneficial.  Frustrates you but it is beneficial. 

Over the years I have found a beautiful way of looking at suffering.  Christ called out on the Cross eli eli lama sabatani or “My God, My God why have you abandoned me”.  It is in offering suffering to God that I have found peace.  Christ suffered then he rose.

March 2022 Newsletter



Option 1:    EMAIL newsletter–This will be our default option going forward. If you’re already receiving this newsletter via email, you don’t need to do anything. If you’re reading this in hardcopy, please send us an email to emmanuelcentre@perthcatholic.org.au so we can update your details.
Option 2:  POSTED hardcopy–We’re happy to keep sending you the newsletter by post, but we’d need a small donation to cover postage. If this is what you prefer, please let us know either by phone 9328 8113, email emmanuelcentre@perthcatholic.org.au, or write to us at 25 Windsor St Perth 6000. If you have already contacted us in 2021 to let us know, you don’t need to do it again, we have already noted your preference.

If we haven’t heard from you by the time we send out the next newsletter, unfortunately we’d have to stop sending you one. To avoid this, please do contact us!


The year 2021 was a special one for us. We started the year with a new coordinator, and we ended the year with a celebration of our 40th anniversary. Below are a few photos from our day of celebration in December 2021, and also a reflection from our coordinator Joe on his first year with us:

This year has been a big year for the Emmanuel Centre and Catholic Deaf.  My first year as Co-ordinator has been full of surprises and lots to learn. I have been supported by the Diocesan hierarchy and a great team here at the Centre.  The support coming from the Clergy has also been fantastic. Our new Committee of Management is full of really well qualified people. The Diocese is going through some big changes and as part of the Diocese we have not been exempt from change.  COVID, National Disability Standards along with Federal Governance requirements have led the Diocese to prevent services overlapping.  Due to this the beautiful house Barbara built has been handed over to IdentityWA (formerly CatholicCare) who specialise in the area of disability accommodation.  We have also lost the school building due to structural and safety issues. All the things that have been sent to try us in many ways, have made us stronger and more determined to make a difference.  We have endeavoured to follow the philosophy of a self-help model which is what the Centre was built on and it’s working. Christ is at the centre of what we do and building on a lived faith is important to the people here at Emmanuel.  We have been doing a lot of research and consultation to enable us to best utilise our resources.  Examples of this work are; Deaf nights on the last Thursday of the month.Mental Health Group masses and group gatherings.Parent Groups for children with disabilities starting early 2022. The ideas that are coming to us have been great.  It is clear we can’t do everything but we can make a difference in what we do.  Your support through this year has been a real blessing and I would encourage you to keep it up.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        

Story from People living with Hearing Loss: COVID and the Community

(by Eric Martin)

Imagine trying to navigate the world of COVID directives and health mandates without being able to hear what everyone is saying or struggling with the vocabulary to make clear sense of the scientists’ findings or the politicians’ statements. Imagine not being able to communicate clearly with people at the shops to find out why there are gaping holes in the aisles where the products that you need should be.

This is the situation in which many people from the Deaf Community find themselves as COVID-19 begins to make its presence known in WA and reflects the experience of Deaf people across Australia over the last two years.

Geoffrey Scott, an Emmanuel Centre employee and volunteer of over 30 years, says that Covid has stopped him from doing many of his normal activities, such as swimming, playing water polo or going to parties. He has found it isolating and has kept away from friends and family during the pandemic.

“Hearing people tend to ignore Deaf people when out. People are too busy to stop and try to talk anymore, there is less and less time to talk with someone who is serving you at the shops and that has become even more normal now with everyone in masks,” said Geoff.

“For example, one thing that surprised me was seeing the shortages in the shops – I went to buy cat food and the shelves were empty. I had to watch the news, with captions on, to find out about the trains and trucks had been stopped coming across from the Eastern States due to the floods.”

During the height of the pandemic, Deafness Forum Australia felt compelled to issue a statement about the importance of accessible communications, highlighting that one in six Australians who live with a hearing loss that impacts their daily lives, “experience communication issues that make it hard to interact with other people and that these issues can result in loneliness, anxiety, and depression.”

“We face challenges with social distancing and the use of face masks which impedes lip reading,” the statement says.

And to compound matters, many specialist communication providers, such as the National Relay Service (NRS), are operating with reduced levels of staff due to the impact of Coronavirus on their workforce and have advised that “people who communicate in Auslan using the Video Relay service will experience longer than usual wait times to have their calls answered.”

“Yet just like everyone else, the Deaf community has been meeting up online, in the virtual space, chatting on Facebook and Messenger, which is still the best way to catch up at this time,” said Geoff.

“I have been lucky to be in contact with friends who have kept me updated, also, working here at The Emmanuel Centre means that Joe (the coordinator) has been helping to keep me up to date with the changes to what I need to have for work. For example, the team at work have helped me access my Covid Vaccine Certificate through MyGov, which would have been very difficult to find by myself.”

One positive that has emerged from the crisis is the overwhelming popularity of Fiona Perry and the other Auslan interpreters working with Premier Mark McGowan at each of his press conferences, and according to Geoff, this has had a profound impact, not just on his and others’ ability to follow the news on TV, but also by encouraging widespread awareness of Deafness and a focus on communication amongst hearing people.

“The interpreter has been really helpful in understanding what has been happening on the news and Deaf people see it as a big positive for them, she has encouraged lots of people to become more interested in Auslan,” he said.

“Her work has really helped to put Deaf and Hearing people on a level playing field, this kind of equality is great to see. Sometimes I can still miss what she has signed, and sometimes they use different signs for words than the ones that I know, but overall, it has really helped me to follow the news.”

MONTHLY DEAF Spiritual Fellowship

Since last year, Emmanuel Centre has been hosting a monthly deaf group get together, combining spiritual fellowship with the sharing of a meal and a social gathering. We took a break during the Christmas/ New Year period and we started again on 24th February 2022. Everyone is requested to bring a plate of finger food to share, with coffee/tea and softdrink provided by us. If you know any deaf person who would be interested in this, please let them know. They could RSVP to us at emmanuelcentre@perthcatholic.org.au.


We are sure that you are aware of the escalating number of people in our community experiencing mental health issues. To help tackle this issue, for the last ten years, Emmanuel Centre has offered a limited number of scholarships for a Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) course. Over that time, we have observed that having people trained for each parish not only helps the leadership but also provides more support for the people with mental health issues as well as their families

Training in the Mental Health First Aid Course teaches adults how to assist people who are experiencing a mental health crisis or are developing a mental health problem. Participants in the Mental Health Course will learn the signs and symptoms of these mental health problems, where and how to get help, and what sort of help has been shown by research to be effective. MHFA is not a counselling course. The first aid is given until appropriate professional treatment is received or until the crisis is resolved.

Just as many of us have completed Red Cross First Aid and CPR certification, Mental Health First Aid follows a similar model and is designed to train lay people how to recognize indicators of mental health problems, how to talk appropriately to individuals experiencing mental health problems and how to make appropriate referrals for additional resources.

Once the parish representatives have completed their course and receive their certificate, they become part of a network of Catholic Mental Health First Aiders in the Archdiocese of Perth. We invite all members of the network about once every quarter to Mass followed by a social gathering where we share our work, our challenges, and our plans. The last one we had was at the Redemptorist Monastery, North Perth (photos below) and the next one we’re having in March 2022 will be at the Undercroft of St. Mary’s Cathedral.

If anyone is interested to be a Mental Health First Aider for their parish, you could register your interest with us at emmanuelcentre@perthcatholic.org.au and we will contact you when we have the next batch of Mental Health First Aid training.


Our regular weekly program is going strong thanks to our activity coordinator Shannon who always work hard to provide our members with creative, and fun activities for everyone to do!

We have had some membership change this term. We are sorry that one of our regular members has not joined us this term, but we are happy to have our other regulars back and we welcome our new member too. Here are some photos to show what we’ve been up to this term.

TIMETABLE for the rest of Term 1

(Please check as services may change due to COVID)

February 28th 9:30 – 10:30am: Pastel Clouds 11-12:30pm: Cooking/Spinning/ Gardening         1-2pm: Boardgames/ ColouringMarch 1st 9:30-10:30am: Painting (Geoff) Topic: Free Painting 11-12:30pm: Cooking/ Dancing/ Indoor Games         1-2pm: Outdoor Games
March 7th PUBLIC HOLIDAY 9:30 – 10:30am: 11-12:30pm:         1-2pm:March 8th 9:30-10:30am: Painting (Geoff) Topic: “The Beach” 11-12:30pm: Cooking/ Dancing/ Indoor Games         1-2pm: Outdoor Games
March 14th 9:30-10:30am: Mosaic 11-12:30pm: Cooking/Spinning/ Gardening         1-2pm: Boardgames/ Colouring/ Free ChoiceMarch 15th 9:30-10:30am: Painting (Geoff) Topic: “Vehicles” 11-12:30pm: Cooking/ Dancing/ Indoor Games         1-2pm: Outdoor Games
March 21st 9:30-10:30am: Mosaic cont’d. 11-12:30pm: Cooking/Spinning/ Gardening         1-2pm: Boardgames/ Colouring/ OutdoorsMarch 22nd 9:30-10:30am: Painting (Geoff) Topic: “Still Life” 11-12:30pm: Cooking/ Dancing/ Indoor Games         1-2pm: Scrapbooking
March 28th 9:30-10:30am: Key Wind Chime 11-12:30pm: Cooking/Spinning/ Gardening          1-2pm: Boardgames/ Colouring/ Indoor GamesMarch 29th 9:30-10:30am: Painting (Geoff) Topic: “Landscapes” 11-12:30pm: Cooking/ Dancing/ Indoor Games         1-2pm: Outdoor Games
April 4th 9:30-10:30am: Easter Egg Bath Bombs 11-12:30pm: Cooking/Spinning/ Gardening 1-2pm: Boardgames/ Colouring/ Free ChoiceApril 5th 9:30-10:30am: Painting (Geoff) Topic: “Easter” 11-12:30pm: Cooking/ Dancing/ Indoor Games 1-2pm: Outdoor Games

A reflection on COVID

by Joe O’Brien (10/02/2022)

The impact of COVID cannot be overstated

It impacts on our lives

On our ability to communicate

It requires us to change the way we do things

Most of all it requires us to think

If we are to love our neighbours

We need to think about how we treat them

How they would want to be treated

COVID requires thought

Requires us to realise that to protect those who are entrusted to us

We need to take care

At times they won’t like it

They may rail against it

Our boundaries protect them

Jesus was no push over

He was tough

He knew what he wanted and paid for it with his life

Out of love

He doesn’t give us anything we can’t handle with his help

Let us lean on Jesus as we walk the COVID path.

September 2021 Newsletter




One of the biggest expenses that we face each term is physically printing, folding, and mailing out the Emmanuel Centre Newsletter, in its original hard-copy format. Working with the Communications Office of the Archdiocese of Perth, we are developing a new format that can be emailed out with minimal cost and is easily shared with friends. Keeping the newsletter digital also lets us include hyperlinks in the text, links that will take you directly to more resources with the click of a mouse. Another aim of digitizing our communications is to ensure that we engage with the younger members of our community, who, whether deaf or hearing, spend so much time on their mobiles, tablets and laptops.

However, we know and appreciate that many of our older members prefer a hardcopy of the newsletter, and we would like to reassure you that this format will still be available upon request. If you would like to receive a physical copy of the Emmanuel Centre’s newsletter, please call us on 9381 8113.

Similarly, if you have recently changed your email address and would like to continue receiving the newsletter, or would like to discontinue your subscription, please send us an email at emmanuelcentre@perthcatholic.org.au so that we can update your details.


Walking with God isn’t easy.  He changes your way of operating.  Makes you have a good look at things. What I got when I started at Emmanuel and what we have now are two very different things. Let’s be thankful for the past and look forward to the future.

What’s coming?

It has been clearly shown to us that young people with a disability leaving school are at a greater risk. So, what are we doing?  We are partnering with 24/7 who run youth groups in parishes and schools to run a few networking meetings next year starting in February. 24/7 has some great young leaders as my kids tell me, I’m too old to be a youth worker. The meetings are to give young people with a disability a chance to meet other young people.  Giving them a chance to meet a few agencies that they can call for help if needed.  A better chance of being independent.

Next year if funds allow, we will run a Youth Mental Health First Aid course in the last half of next year.

We will also be starting Parent Groups for parents of special needs kids.  The aim here is to support them run their own groups.  We are currently looking at where to start the first group and it looks like it will be south of the river. 

40th Anniversary of Emmanuel Centre and Christmas Mass and Celebration details for this are in a different section.  Yes, the Emmanuel Centre has been around for 40 years.  Fr Paul Pitzen and Barbara Harris started the Emmanuel Centre, as a response to the International Year of Disability.  Emmanuel is going back to what they started and reaching out.

We are now going through the process of visiting all the parishes and started by visiting Goomalling. It doesn’t matter where you are in the Diocese, if we can, we will help if needed.


Emmanuel Centre recently hosted a ‘planning and pizza night’ with the deaf community to find out what they’d like to do as a group. Seventeen people sat around the table including 11 deaf, 5 Emmanuel Centre staff, and 1 Auslan interpreter that Geoff brought with him (thanks Geoff!). It was a good meeting, starting and ending with a prayer as it should. Joe explained some of the plans that we have, such as inviting young deaf people who just finish high school into our community. And the deaf were invited to voice their opinion on what they think of the plan and what other things they’d like to happen. While we were talking, pizzas were ordered, and eaten! And so were other nibbles and a chocolate cake brought in by Christina (yum!). At the conclusion of the meeting, some of us went home but a few stayed on and chatted until 10pm! It was a good night.

One thing that came out of this meeting was a request to have a regular monthly social meeting where deaf people could come, socialise, and share a meal. We asked everyone which day of the week would be best and Thursday was decided to be the best night (as Friday is already taken up by the Deaf Club).

Emmanuel Centre is more than happy to host this fellowship, which will start on Thursday 30th September and is planned to be on the last Thursday of every month (except December), from 6pm. Everyone is requested to bring a plate of finger food to share, with coffee and tea provided by us.

So, if you know any deaf person who would be interested in this, please let them know. They could RSVP to us at emmanuelcentre@perthcatholic.org.au.


We are extremely sad to announce that the Emmanuel Centre has lost the use of the two classrooms that were the original St Francis Xavier school building. The classrooms, built nearly 100 years ago, have been inspected by engineers who have deemed them unsafe for use, due to collapsing roof segments (as pictured below), unsound foundations and poor structural integrity of the western wall next to the old kitchen. Despite the best efforts of the Archdiocese to preserve the building as a functional space for the Centre, the more than $200,000 cost of repairs greatly exceeds our budget. As such, we have completely stripped both classrooms and transferred all our group activities to the office building situated behind the old school. The buildings will be partially repaired and used as storage space by the Archdiocese.


With the recent opening of the Emmanuel Community House, the Archdiocese has moved forward with selling the old residential property at number 29 Windsor Street (next door). Proceeds from the sale will go towards covering the construction costs of number 27, which has been constructed in accordance with the highest, ‘platinum’ standard for disability accommodation services. Number 29 was one of the original accommodation services provided by the Centre and has housed numerous residents over many years, providing a safe place for the vulnerable when no one and nowhere else would. As you can imagine, this is a bitter-sweet moment for the Centre, saying goodbye to the old to welcome in the new – especially for Debbie, who called number 29 home for over 30 years. 

Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Ephesians 4:2


We have been deeply involved in research this year (in between our clean-up activities), drilling down into the facts and figures that inform the provision of disability services, both in general and specific to Perth. We want to ensure that our decision-making process is based on accurate, up to date data that reflects the real, lived experience of people with a disability – rather than mindlessly repeating the approaches of the past. We want to be effective!

One of the key factors that emerged was the importance of community integration and support for young people during those first years after leaving school. Leaving behind the familiar support networks of friends, teachers (and even parents) can be incredibly daunting during this transition from childhood to becoming an adult, especially when faced with greater inherent challenges to easy integration in a fast-paced world. 

The Disabled Youth Social Networking Group (not the final name) is a proposed means of overcoming at least a few of these challenges by allowing young people to meet and form strong relationships with others in a similar situation, while in their last year of school. The Emmanuel Centre in conjunction with the Catholic youth ministry, 24/7, is planning to hold its first meeting of the Networking Group on the 5th of February 2022 at Trinity College (Gibney Hall), bringing together disabled youth from across the Archdiocese of Perth in a forum where they are able to provide and access support for themselves and their peers.

Though they may be the only person in their school with their diagnosis, there is a good chance that their situation is potentially very similar to that of another young person, in another school, on the other side of town. Our aim is to bring them together and empower them through faith and fellowship to be the best that they can be in partnership with one another and the Church.


Good governance is crucial to ensuring that the Emmanuel Centre performs to the best of its ability in meeting the mandate that we have been given by the Archbishop. As such, one of the first tasks undertaken by the new Coordinator, has been to assemble an experienced management committee that will keep us accountable, assist in strategic planning (contributing invaluable insights from their respective fields) and ensure that we are truly living the vision and values of an Agency of the Archdiocese of Perth. The inaugural meeting of the management committee took place on Wednesday the 11th of August, at the Emmanuel Centre, where the seven members (listed below) were inducted. We are truly grateful to our committee members for volunteering their valuable time to assist the Centre at this crucial time of renewal.

  • Kate Warren – Industrial Relations Lawyer, Chairperson
  • Lia Florey – CAPAC Accountant, Treasurer
  • Ken Brown – Cathedral Parish Representative
  • Prof John Olynyk – St John of God Healthcare Consultant Hepatologist, Fiona Stanley Hospital Dean of Clinical Research, Edith Cowan University Theme Lead, Health Research Edith Cowan University
  • Mary Ballantine – Archbishops Representative
  • John Holsgrove – Retired Prendiville School Counsellor

And to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. Ephesians 3:19


The Emmanuel Centre would not be the place that it is today without Geoff Scott, who for some 30 years has been both a volunteer and employee – and its only Deaf staff member. Everyone who has worked at the Centre during the last three decades has been taught Auslan by Geoff, who is amazingly patient with our struggles to learn a new language: our huge, ungainly signs; constant errors and the slow pace of our adult learning. All of which he takes in stride with his great sense of humor and ready smile.

Geoff was gifted with a vision from the Holy Spirit one Sunday morning (March 20) in 2011 which has been his source of spiritual inspiration.

Geoff is a jack-of-all-trades here at the Centre and when he’s not teaching Auslan, he is busy taking care of the gardens, repairing things, managing the recycling program (drink containers and newspapers) and leading the Tuesday morning art class for our intellectually disabled guests.

Geoff received a certificate in Fine Arts from TAFE before going to Curtin University where he undertook a Bachelor in Fine Arts and he did the better part of a Graduate Diploma in the same subject. He is a gifted artist, and we are extremely grateful that he is willing to pass on his talents to the students here at the Emmanuel Centre. We would like to let parishes know that Geoff has turned his artistic skills to repairing and restoring Church statuary, bringing the saints back to life if they have been damaged or their colours have faded over the years, and we encourage churches to get in contact with The Emmanuel Centre if they would like him to work with their art.

Geoff also has more medals than anyone we have ever met, won during his many years as a champion Deaf swimmer and water polo player. Geoff has represented Australia many times and was a swimming coach, helping fellow Deaflympians achieve their dreams yet is one of the most down to earth, humble people you will ever meet. Once again, we are incredibly grateful that he is willing to be such a big part of the Emmanuel Centre and acknowledge the crucial role that he plays in our ministry to the Deaf and hard of Hearing – with his skills and experience he really is the lynchpin of this ministry.

You’re invited to



Where: 25 Windsor St, Perth (near East Perth train station)

When: Tuesday 14th December 2021

Starts at 11am Mass celebrated with Bishop Don Sproxton

followed by Lunch from 12 – 2pm

Please bring a plate of finger food to share.

RSVP 9328 8113 or email emmanuelcentre@perthcatholic.org.au by 10th Dec 2021

Newsletter June 2021


This year, a number of things have happened that have forced a few changes. 

  • COVID 19:  Infection Control
    • Now we have to be able to deep clean any furniture and anything that can’t be Deep Cleaned has to be disposed of.
    • QR codes and registers the same as the parishes.
  • Health, Safety and Environment:
    • Closure of the old kitchen. The corner of the old school building near the old kitchen has major cracks in it and has had to be closed for safety reasons.  This has required us to make a few changes to the away we run the programs.
    • All chairs must be rated to take 130kg.
  • The introduction of the new Auditing standards from the Australian Catholic Bishops Council (ACBC) which has led to a new filing system, accountability measures and risk management planning.  This has created new challenges we have to meet.
  • The Archdiocese is moving to stop the overlap of services which has meant a new collaboration between Identitywa and Emmanuel Centre for the running of the house at 27 Windsor St.  Identity WA has been great in stepping outside their normal practices so the philosophy of how the house is run is consistent with Emmanuel’s philosophy.
  • We have done a review of the numbers the Emmanuel Centre is serving and have realised we need to bring some younger people into the fold.  In the next few weeks, you will see the following…
  • Advertising for expressions of interest for a Parents group for those with disabled children. Many years ago, these were called Mothers Groups. In 2021 there are a lot of Dads who are the primary carers for their kids so today they are called Parent Groups.

A lot of the changes we have had no control over.  We just have to do it.  The ACBC changes are significant, and I am not sure exactly what they yet mean.  The Diocese is also working to make the system more effective and transparent because of the Royal Commission a couple of years ago.


In May, our new Chaplain will come. Currently he is relieving in a parish in the far North West.  Every Chaplain brings their own gifts and talents, and I am looking forward to the new Chaplain bringing his gifts to the table.

On Friday the 9th of April we were joined by good friends (both Deaf and Hearing) for a time of sharing and fellowship here at the Emmanuel Centre for our Pizza Night. A huge thanks to Anne Page for her generous provision of drinks and deserts (I think she knew that we were at risk of missing out if it was just left to us males to organize), which we all thoroughly enjoyed. Not only did we get to discuss what has been happening here at the Centre, we also got the chance to practice our Auslan in a real conversational environment – which was both encouraging and a reminder of just how far we have to go in our journey towards fluency. The night was opened in prayer by Joe O’Brien, before we unpacked a few boxes of Dominoes’ finest and a little bit about how each of us came to be involved with The Emmanuel Centre. And most importantly, we were able to discuss the current needs facing the community and how we can best position the Agency to assist. We also shared the new vision and mandate that the Centre has been given by Archbishop Timothy Costelloe SDB, now that the introduction of the NDIS has so dramatically changed the disability services’ landscape. Most of all, it was just great to have an opportunity to engage with our community in a meaningful way after being so busy with other, foundational aspects of the transformation.


Since its inception, attendees at the Emmanuel Centre’s Monday and Tuesday programs have their lunch provided, all for the amazing price of $2! Being able to access a nutritious meal as part of the program is incredibly important to our guests’ wellbeing, as is learning food preparation skills and the social engagement that occurs during a shared meal.

To support this more effectively, the Emmanuel Centre will be increasing the lunch fee from $2 to $4 – to reflect the increases in the price of food that have occurred over the last 40 years and give the team greater flexibility in preparing options for lunch.


It was a moment that we had all been waiting for with anticipation, the big day when Debbie and Toto were finally able to start moving into the new accommodation at 29 Windsor Street, Perth. The new house was completed earlier this year, with delays in the move occurring due to administrative processes – as the best operating model for the future was established between The Emmanuel Centre and Identity WA, the Archdiocese’s largest disability services agency and an acknowledged leader in the provision of specialised accommodation within Western Australia.

We are very grateful to all those who have made the project possible: the people on the steering committee, the volunteers, Tim Lanigan (the architect), Damian and Marcel Bianchini (the builders) and the many workers and tradespeople who have been part of the project.

The house has been constructed in accordance with the highest, ‘platinum’ standard for disability accommodation services and it was thrilling to see residents moving in and starting to make the house into a home.

And no one was more excited than Debbie, who had been preparing for this moment for months. She has claimed her favorite bedroom as her own and has started decorating, personalizing her rooms with artwork to make it feel like home. Debbie really likes the high ceilings and roof mounted windows in her private ensuite.


Judith Wirawan is the Administration Officer here at The Emmanuel Centre….

My name is Judith and I’m the admin person here at Emmanuel Centre. That means I do admin and paperwork such as database, bills, receipts, etc… but as we’re a small team here at Emmanuel Centre, we all do our bits when there is a job that needs lots of hands, such as cleaning, preparing for events, moving office, and others. I started here at Emmanuel Centre as a volunteer about seven years ago now, mainly helping with the newsletter preparation. After a year or two, I started working part time in an administration role, and I am still here now! I love the idea of working for a Church agency, in an organisation that is trying to do good things. And when I come to work and see the happy faces of our regular participants such as Debbie, Veena, and Alan, I feel like my choice is confirmed. And it doesn’t hurt that I have kind colleagues who all also want to do good things for people around us. I always feel the friendship and support from them in whatever we do here.

  Rachel Felix is the Project Officer here at the Centre…

My name is Rachel Felix.  I started my journey at the Emmanuel Centre 5 years ago, volunteering to assist in certain projects.  My task has been++ to get the members attending this centre as well as a group of deaf people, involved in meaningful activities such as growing and juicing of wheatgrass, growing of fresh herbs and vegetables in our vege-pod, upholstery etc.  I have also been involved in the compilation of the religious sign language document. The deaf have always been a big part of the Emmanuel Centre and hence learning of sign language has been crucial to our communication with them.  Learning of this language is very much a ‘work in progress’ for all of us here at the Emmanuel Centre. I am excited about the new plans and projects our Centre is planning for the future.

Shannon is the Activities Coordinator here at The Emmanuel Centre…

Hi, my name is Shannon and I run the activities sessions on a Monday and Tuesday each week at the Emmanuel Centre. We have a great group of people who regularly attend, having fun creating things, making foods, having a cuppa and socialising. On Mondays we run a craft session in the morning. This year we’ve made some great things like travel neck pillows, personal heat packs and our own Red Poppy brooches to wear on Anzac Day. We also have our wonderful volunteer Judy who comes in and shows us how to do spinning of wool into yarn and weaving on looms. On Tuesday mornings I assist our deaf artist, Geoff Scott with the painting session. Each day we create a meal and eat together, while our afternoons are revolved around a rotation of activities such as playing Skittles, scrapbooking, cards and board games etc.

Eric is the Pastoral Worker here at the Centre…

Hi, I’m the newest member of the team, having started at the beginning of this year in the role of Pastoral Worker, three days a week. I am also employed as a journalist with the Communications Office of the Archdiocese of Perth, where I am blessed to come into contact with a wide range of people and activities that support The Emmanuel Centre. My background is in communications, management and marketing – where the skills used in running teams and training, transfer readily to supporting good mental health and wellbeing. My sister (a long-term resident with Identitywa) has both a physical and intellectual disability, and our journey as a family through the many unique challenges that came with her situation, has given me a passion for supporting people in this area. Similarly, my young son is on the Spectrum and as we embark on our NDIS journey with him, I firmly believe that this process can only add to the knowledge and approach that I bring to the Centre.

Out of His infinite glory, may He give you the power through His Spirit for your hidden self to grow strong. Ephesians 3:16