Music moves the City’s heart

Strolling down William Street at lunchtime on a Friday, your ears may perk up to the mellifluous notes of a flute or the majestic sounds of a pipe organ emanating from Uniting Church in the City, Wesley, just across from the Hay Street Mall. The music is part of a free lunchtime recital series which runs from March to December, every first and third Friday at Wesley and every second Thursday at Ross Memorial in West Perth.

Since its establishment over a hundred years ago, the recital series has become a central feature of the cultural heart of the city. Evocative themes such as “Love and Loss” and “One Hand, One Heart” and others like “Beethoven and Shostakovic” give clues as to what mood and music to expect.

Regular comers, spontaneous visitors, tourists and others seeking an alternative lunchtime experience gather in the pews to enjoy the beautiful music, historic venues and illuminating aesthetics. The recitals last some 45 minutes with spare time at the end for applause and a catch-up chat with the performers.
Pre-COVID this catch-up occurred over coffee and cake, with Wesley hoping to reinstate this hospitable tradition again from the end of July.

Angela Currie has been the Director of Music at Wesley since 2012. She explains that the aim of the recital series is to share Wesley’s strong heritage of music with people in the city, while at the same time offering a performance platform to rising stars such as the Wesley Scholars, Wesley Alumni and other musician friends of the church.

The Wesley Scholars that Angela speaks of are part of an annual Wesley scholarship program, now in its 15th year, through which the church offers performance opportunities to undergraduate music students to enhance their musical development. Angela says that the program gives its Scholars the opportunity to perform for the love of the music, rather than to pass an exam or assessment.

Throughout the scholarship year, Scholars may play at Sunday services, the recital series and other special concerts, at several venues, including Wesley, Ross Memorial and Trinity church.

Angela is fully aware of the influence that carefully selected and well prepared music has on a worship experience and works with the Scholars to select music appropriate to the lectionary of the day which they then skilfully deliver alongside the regular pattern of hymns and choral music. “Their music enhances our worship and at the same time offers them invaluable solo performing experiences to develop their craft and thrive in the world of music,” she says.

The current Wesley Scholars possess a wide range of musical gifts and skills and were selected from The University of Western Australia’s Music Department through a competitive selection process. They are: Martin Baker (trumpet), Elyse Belford-Thomas (soprano), Alexis Chin (guitar), Jude Holland (piano), Helena O’Sullivan (violin) and Verity Hagen (flute).

After their scholarship year, many Scholars continue to give back to Wesley and become part of the
Wesley Alumni. “After growing and developing with us, they return to perform time and time again and
we all continue to enjoy the benefits of our expanded music family,” says Angela. “Whilst our program
is primarily about the music, it’s also about the longstanding friendships and support that grow
out of it. Members of our choir and congregation regularly attend the performances of our Wesley
Scholars and Alumni here and at other venues – so our #teamwesley grows beyond the church and into
the external world.”

Angela has always had a passion for helping young people develop their musical talent to become exceptional artists and performers; and she feels particularly privileged to do this through Wesley’s scholarship program. As a child, her love of music eventually led her to study pipe organ and piano at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama in Glasgow. After graduating, she went on to enjoy a rich and varied career in Scotland before moving to Western Australia where she has worked as a music tutor, organ recitalist, choral director, accompanist and now Director of Music and organist at Wesley. In the past, she has performed at prestigious venues such as St Giles Cathedral, Palmerston Place Church, Greyfriars Kirk, Dunblane Cathedral and Glasgow Cathedral – however the recital series holds a special place in her heart.

“At every recital, I am reminded about the special quality that music has in bringing people together. People from all walks of life, who don’t know each other, come together to enjoy the experience of
listening to beautiful music – that feeling of community is unmatched, it transcends so many barriers.”

Over the years, the recital series has gained a strong following, but attendances have dipped slightly since COVID. However, Angela is positive, “If you haven’t been to one of our recitals, there is no better time to visit. We have an exciting line-up of classical, folk and jazz recitals to come this year. I always look forward to catching up with our guests after a performance.”’

Rev Hollis Wilson, Minister at Wesley, added, “I am thrilled that our current music program is part of a long commitment to the arts and also that its availability to the wider community has continued to remain free of charge. As we transition into the post-COVID era and move confidently towards the 20th
anniversary of the Wesley Scholars, I look forward to what lies ahead in 2027. Brava/Bravo!”

Tracey Paul

Volunteers Making History

Every Monday and Friday, the Uniting Church Archives Centre comes alive. The front doorbell rings, volunteers arrive, archive materials are brought out and their contents spread across working tables, the rhythm of keyboard clicks punctuates the air, telephones ring – and laughter and camaraderie echo across the Centre.

At the core of this simmering activity are volunteers – Betty, Reg, John, Nancy, Joan, Julie, Di, Linley and Brian – who, led by Marissa Krajcar, Archivist and Archives Co-ordinator, manage and drive the organisation and preservation of Western Australian Uniting Church materials and objects for posterity.
Many of the team have been volunteering together for over 10 years, some for 30 years, and several still remember when the Archives Centre was located at Westminster House on Pier Street. Since then, and after a grand move co-ordinated by many of the volunteers who still help out today – the Archives are housed in spacious, purpose-created premises in the Uniting Church Centre on Edward Street, Perth.

The Archives Centre receives and collects materials and artefacts associated with the Uniting Church, its agencies, schools and former missions in Western Australia. On a regular basis, records and items which are no longer in use are sent in for depositing from church ministers, congregations and other affiliates. Some materials at the Centre are contemporary in nature and others much, much older – dating back from the Church’s origins in the Swan River colony, its existence as separate Methodist, Presbyterian and Congregational churches, Union as the Uniting Church in 1977- right up to the present day.

A browse of the Centre’s dedicated library and display cabinets reveal a fascinating array of collectables, including vintage bibles, published biographies on Church founders, original history books, vintage hymn books, local Church histories and books on the institutions of the Church.

The Archives volunteer team researches and identifies materials of significance, prepares them for archiving, then categorises, collates, digitises and registers the information as required. The diverse range of items coming through the Centre over the years include: birth, marriage and death certificates, church baptismal rolls, wedding registers, parish newsletters, minute books, annual reports, journals, diaries, local
church histories, church title deeds, architectural plans, sheet music, vintage Bibles, old handwritten letters, historic photos, and artefacts such as stained-glass windows, vestments and antique communion trays.

Every year the Archives Centre sends an annual deposit of archival materials to the Battye Library, the repository for documentary heritage material relating to the history of Western Australia. This year, volunteers produced some 17 boxes of history to add to the Uniting Church’s Collection at the Library – the largest private collection. The Collection is open to any researcher, however some records have restricted access due to personal and sensitive reasons and until enough time has elapsed for them to be accessible to the wider community.

Whilst the Archives Centre is not open to the public, except by special request, Archives Co-ordinator,
Marissa explained, “We receive all sorts of enquiries by phone or email from interested persons – for family history records, for information on the architecture of our historic church buildings and their pipe organs, and to help identify documents. The public and church community have also assisted our appeals on social media to identify bygone buildings and people in photos.”

“We are proud to be part of such a wonderful enterprise,” said Betty Pearson, Archives volunteer researcher. “Over the years, volunteers have come from a wide range of backgrounds and interests. Some of us are motivated by a love of history or genealogy, others by our long association with the Uniting Church and wanting to remain of service and others by the longstanding friendships we have formed here.” Current and former volunteers include retired ordained ministers, librarians, schoolteachers, a headmaster, an electrician, an economist, lay preachers, secretaries and writers. “Many bring with them a detailed knowledge and background of Uniting churches from all over the state because they have attended a church at one location as a child; and then as an adult, have gone on to worship at Uniting churches in other places,” Betty finished.

Over the years, the Archives Centre has worked with WAGS (the WA Genealogical Society, now called Family History WA),the WA Newspapers, Redress WA and the Battye Library. Some major projects included: creating a digitised record of more than 72,000 baptisms from 1840 to 1999; Archive volunteers assisting at the WA Newspapers to identify and list old photographs relating to the Church; assisting the Battye Library to accession archival material that the Church has deposited there; and a more recent
project of one year to record names of children who had lived at former missions of the Church.

In this edition of Revive, we acknowledge volunteers and contributors to the Archives, both past and present – for their dedication and commitment to document, shape and preserve the history of the Uniting Church. “We would like to thank all individual volunteers, previous voluntary committees, former
honorary archivists and others who have contributed to the success of the Archives Centre,” said Marissa. “Without their determination, commitment and creativity over the years, we could not have succeeded.”

Tracey Paul

Vale Rev Deacon Betty Matthews

The Uniting Church lost one of the great pioneers of diaconal ministry when Rev Deacon Betty Matthews died on 19 July 2022, aged 93. Betty was the first Deacon to be accredited in the Uniting Church in Australia (UCA) at Cannington Uniting Church in Western Australia on 15 December 1992.

Betty faithfully served for more than 68 years since she was ‘set apart’ as a Deaconess at Fremantle Scots’ Presbyterian Church on 3 February 1954.

Betty arrived in Perth with her family in 1944 and joined Subiaco Presbyterian Church where she was active in the Presbyterian Fellowship of Australia (PFA), ran Easter camps and supported Australian Inland Mission (AIM) Patrol Padres. Betty worked as a typist at the “West Australian” newspaper, but heard the call to diaconal ministry when she met a Deaconess from Victoria who told of a new area where John Flynn was planning to send a Deaconess with a nursing sister to hospitals in the outback.

In 1951, Betty moved to Melbourne, where she lived in a community of diverse woman at Rolland House, the Presbyterian Deaconess Training College, while studying theology at Ormond College. It was while she was there that she became engaged to Alan Matthews, a candidate for ordination as a Minister of the Word.

Betty returned to Western Australia in 1954 when she was “set apart” as a Deaconess based at Fremantle. Her ministry was to establish a church in the newly developing suburb of Kwinana. She visited migrant families as they moved into their new homes, travelling to Kwinana on a Lambretta scooter dressed in her blue Deaconess uniform. A photo of Betty dressed in her uniform on her scooter graced the cover of Women in the Church: A Memoir by Jean Yule.

In 1956, Betty and Alan married and moved to Birmingham in England where they worked in an inner city church. They returned to Victoria in 1957 where they served in Morwell and Ringwood East in the Presbyterian Church. Their son, Ian was born in 1957 and Christina in 1960. Betty was very involved in children’s and youth ministry in church and community, establishing an Infant Welfare Centre in Morwell and a Referral Centre in Ringwood.

In 1970, the Matthews moved to the Northern Territory where the new town of Nhulunbuy, a remote mining town and Aboriginal community on the Gove Peninsula, was being built. They established a congregation there, with services held at first in a marquee, then the recreation hall, before the church was built. Initially the family lived in the nearby Aboriginal community of Yirrkala, where they learned a lot about Aboriginal culture and formed strong friendships with Aboriginal leaders. Betty worked to establish a community kindergarten, co-ordinated cyclone emergency relief and established the Good Neighbour Council.

During Alan’s long service leave in 1976, Betty and Alan visited many grass roots churches in South Asia. They returned to Perth in 1977 where Alan served in ministry at Swan View and at Cockburn Hilton. Betty worked for the Young Women’s Christian Association (YWCA) for 13 years, 10 years as their Executive Officer, pioneering many services to benefit young women – Big Sister program, Emergency Housing for single women, Step Family support, as well as serving on the board of the Western Australian Council of Social Services (WACOSS) and the Youth Affairs Council.

Through this time Betty was also active in the Uniting Church, serving as Chairperson of Presbytery, Pastoral Relations Committee (PRC) Convenor, Candidates Convenor, and on three occasions, Acting General Secretary of the Synod. She was also a strong social justice advocate, especially on the rights of refugees and First Peoples.

Betty was at the 6th Triennial Assembly in 1991 when the decision was made to renew the diaconate in the UCA. Betty was always a great mentor and encourager of Deacon candidates and loved to catch up with Deacons at their regular lunches.

Betty and Alan have always been passionate about ministry with refugees, so when in retirement they moved to Thornlie they bought a house with a self-contained flat so they could house refugees. Many of the refugees they hosted consider Betty and Alan to be their family.

As their health declined Betty and Alan moved into a retirement village in Forrestfield and later to a nursing home at Midland. Until very recently, Betty had been a regular attender at many UCA events as Betty said, “Sitting at home isn’t our scene.”

Betty’s call to ministry was “one of service to the community – the needy, the lonely, the newcomer. As well as working with people to build up their own community whether in the church or outside.” All through her ministry, Betty endeavoured to encourage others and often asked, “And what do you need me to do now?”

Betty is remembered with great affection and will be deeply missed. Deacons around Australia honour her as one of our saints.

We hold her husband, Rev Alan Matthews, their children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren in our prayers at this time.

A Memorial Service to celebrate Betty’s life will be held at 10am on Wednesday 3 August at Kalamunda Uniting Church in Western Australia.

Reflection – A Tribute to Adam


Last Wednesday, I had the privilege of visiting Good Sammy Enterprises (GSE), an agency of the Uniting Church which provides training services and meaningful work for people with a disability, through retail and social enterprises across Western Australia. The occasion was a sad one – Adam Blair, an invaluable member of the team who participated in retail collections and deliveries, had died. His death was sudden, unexpected and a devastating blow to all those who knew him.

It was an honour to meet and speak with staff and volunteers there, both individually and in groups.  GSE has in total some 600 working in the agency. Many were reflective and still coming to terms with the reality that they would never see Adam, as he was to them, again.

Adam was a 42-year old man who had worked at GSE for the last 20 years. He worked on the Good Sammy trucks, collecting pre-loved goods and clothing from collection points and delivering them to the Good Sammy shops.

From my conversations with his colleagues, I gathered that Adam was “the encourager” and “the supporter” in his team. He would exuberantly tell his colleagues how good they looked and how well they worked. He had a contagious, confident smile – he inspired, he exuded life and vitality.

It was good to learn more about GSE where Adam had spent his working life. It is an impressive enterprise of academy training programs, confidence-building initiatives, inclusion, employment and some 25 pre-loved clothing shops all focussed around improving the lives of people with a disability and using their gifts for the betterment of the community. GSE nurtures their talents and capacity to reach their goals and aspirations. It includes people with a disability in the social and working infrastructure of our world.

I visited the GSE warehouse and watched clothing deliveries arrive from the yellow Good Sammy community collection bins scattered around Perth. Men and women with a disability received them, sorted them and packed the useable clothing and other goods for onward delivery to the Good Sammy stores which we all know and recognise in areas like Fremantle, Mandurah, Booragoon, Subiaco, Ellenbrook, Wanneroo and Butler. It is a very well-run enterprise and it would be after some 60 years of operation.

As I chatted with Adam’s colleagues, I got the distinct impression of the wonderful creation of God he was and how much joy and purpose he brought to those around him. He was love, he was loved, he was included and he was a vital part of a living and working community. To see him gone was a loss to all those who knew him. Perhaps as you are reading this, you are feeling his loss too.

While talking with Adam’s colleagues, many of them were philosophical about life and death. Some were Christians of different faiths and had an outlook of eternal life. One of them burst into tears – he told me that he knew that, one day in heaven, he would meet Adam again.

I ask you to pray for Adam, his mother Carol, his family, his team of colleagues and for the CEO, staff and volunteers at GSE who are so deeply affected by his loss. Not only was Adam a part of GSE, he was a part of the Uniting Church through GSE, and thus a part of us all.

Although it was short, we give thanks for the wonderful life of Adam.

In closing, the words of Jeremiah 31:13 give comfort and hope:

I will turn their mourning into joy, I will comfort them, and give them gladness for sorrow.

Susy Thomas

Moderator, Uniting Church WA

UnitingStories – Rev John Steed


I grew up on our family’s farm near Ballymena, as the oldest of 3 boys. Ballymena is a provincial town in County Antrim, Northern Ireland. Back then, it had some 6,000 inhabitants. You could be forgiven for not knowing where it is because during World War 2, many road signs and street names were removed for safety against intrusion by spies. In recent times however, Ballymena has become synonymous with many famous names, like the actor Liam Neeson who attended Ballymena Technical College where I once studied.

After the “Belfast Blitz” of 1941, I remember, as a younger child, carrying my gas mask around with me and participating in gas mask drills at school. There was a fear that Ballymena, located only some 50 kms away from Belfast, could also be the target of air raids. So, like the rest of Britain, we kept our masks at hand, carried identity cards, used food ration books and covered our windows at night as part of blackout restrictions.

In my mid-teens, I came to faith in Christ. A persistent memory of mine is when one of my peers observing me as I spoke at a fellowship meeting, declared, “you could be a minister!”.

Instead, after completing an apprentice as a coppersmith/pipe fitter, I moved to Portsmouth in England, to work for the British Admiralty (Navy) in its dockyards. In that era, shipbuilding was a dominant industry – commercially in Belfast where grand ships like the Titanic were built, and militarily for Britain as a strong naval power during the first and second world wars and later during the Cold War. When I was in Portsmouth, there were some 22,000 working at the dockyards; latterly I read that it was down to 2,000. The naval base where the dockyards are located now has an on-site museum and even a dockyard tour.

During my four years in Portsmouth, I became closely involved in the local Methodist Church on Twyford Avenue, North End (since demolished), attending services and assisting with Sunday School, youth group and as a layer preacher. It prompted me to save up to attend a year-long course for lay people to train in local church ministry. I did this at Cliff College in Calver, a small, picturesque rural village in Derbyshire, bordered by the River Derwent.

After my course, I was appointed as a Lay Pastor in Cheshire serving a group of rural and small churches. Unbeknown to me, this experience would be significant for my future ministry in Australia. A timely visit in mid-1962 by Rev S. J. (Sydney John) Jenkins from Western Australia convinced me (and two others) to make the decision to go to Australia and participate in the local ministry. I arrived in Perth in December 1962. As far as I knew then, I was the only member of my family ever to go to Australia.

I began as a Lay Minister with the Methodist Home Missions in Carnamah. This was a ground-breaking ministry as it was the first time Methodists and Presbyterians had shared a minister. I went on to serve at South Perth. Then In 1966, I commenced full-time study for 3 years at Barclay Theological College, Nedlands, to become a Minister of the Word. After that, I was stationed at Lake Grace Methodist Church for 3 years.

During this time, I met Anne, a laboratory technologist, at a church youth rally in Perth. She was working in Papua New Guinea at a government leprosy hospital staffed by the London Missionary Society.

1970 was a big year, Anne and I married in September and 3 weeks later I was ordained as a Minister at Wesley Church in the city.

I then went on to serve as a Methodist Minister at Cunderdin-Quairading church, and then as a Uniting Church Minister at Moora, Kalgoorlie, Busselton and Narrogin. Busselton was my longest appointment at 9 years, followed by Kalgoorlie for 7.5 years. I retired on 31 October 2005 at age 69 after a total of 39 years in ministry. Since my retirement, I still take worship services, when asked, mainly in the metro area, but I have also travelled out to York, Gingin and Toodyay. I also do volunteer work at the Uniting Church WA archives centre.

As an aside – in 1980, Anne, myself and our then two children went to live in Cavan, Ireland, for 3 years. Whilst my father had died by that time, it was a homecoming to see my two half-brothers and other extended family and also to introduce my children to them. I was also able to meet my mother’s family who I had not met after she had died when I was two years old. I learnt then that I had a paternal uncle who had been living in Australia long before me. Working the Methodist circuit church of Cavan, gave me the opportunity to give back to the country where my Christian faith was borne.

Being a minister is a privilege. You meet a lot of people, develop many close pastoral relationships, become a key figure of the local community and participate in community life and significant events. Some standout memories for me include: conducting the Lake Grace Golden Jubilee celebrations, opening the new church building at Quairading; and the dedication of new church halls at Moora and Kalgoorlie. I’ve conducted many, many weddings and funerals; and pastoral visits which I love to do. It’s also been a privilege to visit Fiji with Anne for her work with the leprosy hospital and patients.

The Church has taken me from Ireland, to locations in and across metro, rural and remote WA, with Anne and our children. In fact, if I had to go through the alphabet of all the places where I have ministered, there would be few letters left! Even our four children were all born in different places – Paul in Cunderdin, David in Moora, Carolyn in Ireland and Andrew in Kalgoorlie.

Being a minister has allowed me to use the gifts of preaching and pastoral care that God gave me – although, I don’t always come off unscathed! After a Sunday service one morning, I remember a congregation member saying of my preaching: “That’s the biggest load of rubbish I ever heard!”. I quipped back in good humour: “Well, that’s the best compliment I’ve had from you in a long time!”.

I feel close to God when I am doing the work of God – I feel it in my heart. When you give, it always comes back and it’s a really good feeling.

In Moora, 1978, with Anglican and Roman Catholic ministers
In Kalgoorlie, 1984, with my confirmation group

Ministry Expo 2022 – Is God Calling you to Ministry?

Ministry Expo is back again in 2022 with a bang and promises to be both an inspirational and informative event to explore God’s calling on your life and the interesting options and opportunities to express it through the Uniting Church.

Are you looking for a fulfilling vocation that spreads the Christian gospel of justice, love and hope? Are you feeling called to ministry but don’t know how to make the jump? Have others discerned skills and gifts for ministry in you? Are you curious? Do you want to be inspired? These are all motivating reasons to attend the Expo.

At Ministry Expo you will hear about the pioneering ministries of the Uniting Church in Australia, a church known for its work in social justice and community care. As well, you will meet others who have walked and are walking the path to ministry. You will hear about the different expressions of ministry in the Uniting Church such as: Minister of the Word, Deacon, lay leader, Pastor and Lay Preacher. You will also learn more about the journey to Ministry, including preparation, theology study, training options and a lot, lot more.

Ministry Expo 2022 is on from 7.00-9.00pm on Thursday 28 April at St Andrew’s Uniting Church, 182 Bennett Street Perth. Attendance is free but registration is needed for COVID and catering purposes. If participants are not able to attend the Expo in person, the event will also be available via Zoom. To register, email and request the Zoom link also if you need it.

The exciting programme is below.

Welcome to St Andrews – Rev Sione Lea’aetoa

MC and Opening Prayer and Acknowledgement of Country – Rev Bev Fabb


What is the role of a Minister of the Word? – Rev Ruth Vertigan

What is the role of a Deacon? – Rev Andy Broadbent

What is the role of a lay leader? – Sophie Li

What is the role of a Pastor? – Pastor Marilyn Price

What is the role of a Lay Preacher? – Doug Burtenshaw

What is involved in doing a Period of Discernment? – Mike Roberts

What is involved in preparing for ordained ministry? – Samuel Annan

What are the options for studying theology? – Rev Dr Anne Wright

What is it like moving from another church into the UCA? – Rev Rob Douglas

Questions are welcome after each presentation

Closing Prayer                                                                                                                                                  

Supper will be served!


For more information, visit the Candidating for Ministries webpage at Candidating for Ministry – Uniting Church WA

On this webpage you will find:

  • A series of videos about a range of ministries in the Uniting Church.
  • The Period of Discernment Handbook- which explains what is involved in a POD and includes the registration form for a POD
  • The Lay Preacher Handbook- which explains how to apply to become a candidate for the ministry of Lay Preacher and what education and formation is involved.
  • The Application to Candidate Handbook- which explains how to apply to become a candidate for one of the ordained ministries.

A Chat with Pepe Halatau, Worship Leader of the Tapu Niue Faith Community

After the Welcoming Service for the Tapu Niue Faith Community last Sunday at Gosnells Uniting Church, Pepe Halatau, Worship Leader, shared with us her journey of faith and Church.

I still remember the year I arrived in Australia from Niue. It was 1998. It’s hard to believe that it is now almost 24 years ago.

Niue is an island country in the South Pacific Ocean. It is one of the world’s largest coral islands and I can confirm it is as stunningly beautiful as it looks in pictures.

I settled in well in Australia but soon found myself longing for connection with family, the community and the culture I enjoyed back in Niue. Fortunately, I met other Niue people in my area who felt the same and we decided to form a community group for socials and other events. Amidst all of this, the one thing we seemed to lack was a spiritual gathering. It was then, in 2014, that we decided to meet up for Church meetings.

We had no idea how to conduct our Church meetings. Lucky for us, Niue elder, Tina Siakimotu Versteeg, stepped in. We couldn’t have done it without her. She introduced a worship format, the lectionary and prayer calendar to our meetings. Sadly, Tina is now late but we cherish her memory and hold her deep in our hearts.

We started meeting at the Gosnells RSL Hall and continued there for a few years. It was not easy. We did not have powerpoint facilities and we had to set-up and pack away after each service. It was a lot of work but we felt we had a purpose and connection, so we continued. I became Tina’s assistant. In retrospect, this was quite extraordinary because whilst I was a young Christian, later on I was a bit of a rebel and going to Church was not a priority. Now here I was reconnecting again with my faith.

In July 2018, a meeting was held at Dome Café in Gosnells between elder Tina, leaders of our Niue community and the Uniting Church’s multi-cultural representatives, Rev Dr Matagi Vilitama and Rev Dr Emanuel Audisho, to discuss the possibility of a deeper, more formal relationship with the Uniting Church. We followed this up with a written request. Rev Bev Fabb, Convenor of the Uniting Church’s Multi-cultural and Cross-cultural Network, put us in touch with the Uniting Church’s Presbytery of Western Australia. We then started preparations to become a Faith Community of the Presbytery. Our Welcoming Service was on Sunday 6 February 2022 at Gosnells Uniting Church.


Being a Faith Community of the Uniting Church’s WA Presbytery is truly special. We have better access to resources, training and support. We are not alone and belong to a broader Christian community and network. We have a space at the Gosnells Uniting Church building to grow our church. “Tapu”, by the way, is the Niue name for Church.

I would like to acknowledge the Tapu Niue Working Committee, the elders Poi & Povi Kauhiva, Niue Perth Community who have contributed a lot – without their support we would not have come this far to becoming a faith group. We value the support from the Uniting Church in Australia’s Niue National Conference. I would also like to thank my mentors during this process – my siblings, Rev Falkland Liuvaie and Birtha Togahai, and also the Rev Dr Matagi & Jo Matagi and Elaine Ledgerwood from the Uniting Church WA. Thanks also to the Presbytery of WA. To anyone not mentioned, my heartfelt thanks to you too.

When I look back now, I pinch myself. I remember back in 2014 being tasked with saying the Sunday prayers. I was distressed and sent an urgent email to my cousin in New Zealand to ask her what should I say! We still laugh about it because now I am the Worship Leader of the Tapu Niue Faith Community! You never quite know what God has got planned for you!


Note: The Tapu Niue was formed in 2014. In 2018, they approached the Uniting Church to become a recognised Faith Community. After a long period of preparation, the day finally arrived on 6 February to welcome this very special community to the Uniting Church’s Presbytery of Western Australia.

Article by Tracey Paul

A Hopeful Journey Through Homelessness – Josh’s Story

We thank Uniting WA for sharing this article with us.

A personal story – Josh’s journey through homelessness

Josh* spent time as a Uniting WA Beds for Change participant last year.  Beds for Change was a supported transitional accommodation service for people experiencing homelessness which was established during the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic. It was so successful that the program now forms part of Uniting WA’s ongoing strategy to address homelessness.

Josh shares his story here.


I was born in a big city and spent the first 2 years of my life there before my family moved states. I then spent my childhood living in regional towns.

I was an only child and my Mum was a single Mum. She was an alcoholic and I had to look after her a lot. Since the age of 10, I used to have to nurse her outside the pub at two in the morning. A lot of the time I was on the street, drinking at a very young age. I wasn’t really socialising with good people and I was taken advantage of a lot. As a result, I don’t put up with anything these days.

When I got a bit older, I got into drugs and had issues there with methamphetamine for a while.  That wasn’t good so I left where I was living and moved states again. I still had drug issues, but it wasn’t as bad. 

Then I moved to be near my grandparents and that kind of sorted me out.  I reconnected with them in early 2020 and I started sharing things with them.  They were really supportive and good about everything, and they helped me out through a lot of the alcohol and drug issues.  They helped me gain more self-confidence – that was my main issue and the main reason I used drugs and alcohol. I don’t drink nowhere near as much now, and I don’t touch drugs anymore.

My grandparents taught me that I can really do anything.  They were hard on me, but I needed it. With them, I saw the light at the end of the tunnel.

I was 27 years old when I came over to WA thinking that I had a legitimate job in the South West, but it turned out it wasn’t. The boss wanted to pay me in cash. I had a letter of offer saying that I had a job, but he kept avoiding putting me on the books, so I ended up leaving after three months. That’s how I ended up being homeless in Perth.

I didn’t know anyone in Perth, but I thought my probability of getting ahead with housing and work would be a lot better in Perth than it would be in the South West.

That was the first time I went to Tranby (Uniting WA’s Crisis Support and Engagement Hub).  I came in and let them know what was happening. I was in survival mode and just spent the bare minimum I needed to get by.  I was looking for jobs as well, but I didn’t want anyone to know I was homeless. Every time I applied for a job, I used Tranby as my address and I never got any call backs from anyone because they would figure out I was homeless.

I spoke to the team at Tranby and they told me I could apply for Beds for Change. They helped me get through all of that and I got a place at Beds for Change, re-did my CV and asked them if I could use that as my residential address.  They agreed and two days later, I had a job.

Beds for Change housed me while I started working.  It allowed me the time to save up money so I could then get a share house.  I would also go to Tranby so I could use the computers and the internet for work stuff.

I started doing factory work and then decided I wanted to go to the mines.  I started off doing shutdowns but am working towards full-time work now. I did three of four shutdowns with my employer and then they offered me a probationary period for a permanent job, which I’m doing now.  I work two weeks on, two weeks off and I really like it.

I’m living in a share house at the moment but am looking to move closer to the airport and the city soon. I’m looking for a one-bedroom unit so I can have space and come home to my own things.  I like jiu jitsu and kick boxing, so I’m also looking forward to being able to do a class.

Beds for Change was awesome, it’s a program that should be done more often because it really helps people.  The service was more personal, instead of having a format where ‘this is how it runs’ – it adjusts person to person and understands that everyone’s circumstances are completely different. Instead of just having one program and one model where you’re only going to get a percentage of people who will be able to make it through that model, Beds for Change is more flexible, which it should be – because that’s how life is.

My advice to anyone in a similar situation is to think back to all the things you’ve done well in your life and remember that you can do it again.

*Name has been changed to protect privacy.