In September 2005, the Uniting Church WA decided that eight of its community services agencies and parish missions would come together to form a new community services agency. UnitingCare West (now Uniting WA) commenced operations on 1 July 2006.
Now, on its 15th birthday, Uniting WA reflects on a history that goes back to the roots of the Uniting Church in WA, and the legacy of those pioneering visionaries.
The merger of Fremantle Wesley Mission, Mofflyn, Rainbow Project, Trinity Outreach Services, UCA Outreach Services, Uniting Community House Midland, UnitingCare Kwinana and Wesley Mission Perth into UnitingCare West provided a strong governance structure and more strength in adapting to the changing community services sector. However, many were worried that the unique and necessary programs provided by the smaller agencies would be lost in a bigger organisation.
Uniting team member Joanne Goodwin originally worked for Mofflyn, starting in 1996. “It was a very scary time when the organisation formed. There was lots of change. We went from being a tiny little program at Mofflyn to being part of a big organisation.”
All of the organisations that merged to form Uniting WA had begun in response to unmet needs in the community, and most had long histories of working to support vulnerable West Australians. The 2002 Marketing Plan for Wesley Mission Perth said, “Our programs of support focus on the gospel examples of empowerment. Empowerment is best achieved by identifying and working with people’s own natural strengths — working through the difficulties they are experiencing using these strengths to solve their problems.”
The Uniting Church also pledged in the 1977 Inaugural Statement to the Nation ‘to hope and work for a nation whose goals are not guided by self-interest alone, but by concern for the welfare of all persons everywhere.’
UnitingCare West was formed with these values at its core. And while it’s changed its look to become Uniting WA, it’s still the same at heart.
“There’s been so much change for the better since the organisation formed,” said Joanne, who’s still supporting vulnerable families after all these years. “We can definitely provide a better service for the people we support. We can link them to other services and give them wrap-around support.”
It’s exciting to be able to mark this next phase of Uniting WA with the recent relaunch of the Tranby Engagement Hub for people experiencing homelessness — still with the goal of bringing services together to support people, but now with an updated, co-designed, purpose-built space.