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 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


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 by 10th Dec 2021