Juniper, a Uniting Church WA agency providing community and residential aged care, is continuing a long tradition of the Uniting Church and its predecessors, by providing much needed services to remote Australia.
This tradition has been celebrated through the work of Rev John Flynn who set out to establish a network of support to sustain communities in the outback. His work led to the formation of the Australian Inland Mission and its successor, Frontier Services and the world’s first aerial services to remote communities, the Royal Flying Doctor Service.
Juniper’s history commenced in 1949 when it welcomed its first residents to a converted Edwardian house in Mt Lawley bequeathed by the pioneering Sarah Hardey.
In the subsequent 67 years, and after an emotional decision for Frontier Services to change direction, Juniper has grown its services to meet the needs of an ageing society.
Its services now extend from Wyndham in the Kimberley, to Albany in the Great Southern.
Very few organisations in the world face the challenge of providing services in such a large geographic area. Western Australia’s massive Kimberley region occupies one sixth of our continent and is home to 38 000 people.
Juniper’s services are now provided to largely Aboriginal residents and clients in Wyndham, Kununurra, Derby and most recently, Fitzroy Crossing. A management service is also provided to the aged care service in Halls Creek. In reflecting on Juniper’s now significant presence in the Kimberley, Vaughan Harding, chief executive of Juniper, said that Juniper is not a city-centric organisation, but seeks to respond to need wherever it occurs. This approach is reflected in services already provided in regional Western Australia including Geraldton, Northam, Busselton, Katanning and Albany.
The most difficult services to provide are in areas where there is ongoing market failure, particularly in remote regions. John Flynn responded to that need many years ago, but the need is still there, and the community as a whole, must put in a concerted effort if we are to provide equitable services to all Australians.
Top image: Juniper staff adn residents at Juniper’s residential care facility, Gwardi Ngadu, in Fitzroy Crossing.