Celebration of service

Social workers Paul Fitzgerald and Alex Mackenzien with Lynn Pannett and Evelyn O’Meara from Wanslea. Picture: Emma Reeves www.communitypix.com.au d409619
Social workers Paul Fitzgerald and Alex Mackenzien with Lynn Pannett and Evelyn O’Meara from Wanslea. Picture: Emma Reeves www.communitypix.com.au d409619

SOCIAL workers and other staff at family services provider Wanslea in Clarkson joined colleagues from across Perth to celebrate the organisation’s 70th anniversary last weekend.

Employees at Wanslea’s Caloundra Way branch, which opened last year, attended a gala event on Saturday to mark the seven decades since the group opened its first hostel in Perth to provide a home for children whose mothers were ill and fathers were away at war in 1943.

Florence Hummerston and the Women’s Australian National Service (WANS) started the hostel in Bulwer Street, Perth, which then moved to Cottesloe in 1946.

Wanslea created a home help and family support service in 1976 to ‘prevent children being removed from their home surroundings during family crisis’.

In 1985, it began recruiting volunteer foster carers for its community care service, an alternative to hostel care which offered emergency care for children in crisis in the volunteers’ homes.

Today Wanslea is one of the biggest non-government providers of foster care in WA.

‘It’s heartening to see how much the children and families services sector has changed since Wanslea closed its hostel in 1984,’ Wanslea chief executive Tricia Murray said.

‘Wanslea’s achievements over the last three decades demonstrate that it’s an agency that’s ready to change.’

The agency also launched a history book, On the Shoulders of Giants, Celebrating 70 years of Wanslea 1943 to 2013.

The book includes memories and reflections from Wanslea leaders, staff and people who have received its services, as well as photos and newspaper accounts over the decades.