A Typical Day at the Family Centre

2, Norbert Street,


W.A. 6000.



  • Unlock inside doors and doors opening onto the garden.
  • Put change in till and prepare shop for opening.Unlock inside doors and doors opening onto the garden.
  • Light boiler fire and see that bath, basin and toilet are clean and ready for use.

8.30 a.m.

  • Leave Centre in car and commence picking up children for morning session of Kindergarten.

9.10 a.m.

  • Return to Centre. Continue preparations for the new day.

9.30 a.m.

  • Open up. Deal with customers and clients as required.  (Very often 4 or 5 persons already waiting for a shower).
  • Provide towel and soap and razor if required – attend to stoking of boiler; serve in the shop; attend to mail and phone calls.
  • Clean and scour bath between clients and ensure that no soiled clothing has been left about – stuffed behind the boiler, for instance!).

10 – 10.30 a.m.

  • Voluntary helper arrives, Discuss known events for the day and get on with cleaning, dusting, tidying shelves and cupboards, sorting donated clothing, ironing, mending as necessary.  All these chores are shared by all the “staff”, i.e. self and a voluntary helper.
  • Attend to ‘visitors’ bringing donations, or other callers.
  • Bath etc. has to be cleaned up and boiler stoked between each client.
  • All these things are routine and must be attended to every day – summarized under “General Duties”.
  • Alongside all this, and varying from day to day are the other jobs – administering first aid for cuts and bruises.
  • Helping clients to complete various ‘forms’
  • General listening, conversation and counseling as the need arises.
  • Take patients to R.P.H. or P.M.H. for stitches to cuts etc. or for general medical attention.  (This sort of job means that the helper must be left alone for a time and this can be very trying).
  • Very frequently at all hours of the day there are always one or two clients more or less incapable, difficult, amorous or argumentative as a result of drunkenness.  There are disputes concerning whose turn it is next to the bath-room.  With a group of teenagers there may be noise and hooliganism and a group of children are usually noisy, unruly and destructive.  One woman is usually drunk and always very difficult, being one persons work – she usually wants a shower, strips out and parades around stark naked being abusive and dirty mouthed all the time.
  • Another service is “Light Refreshments” – tea, coffee, cordial and biscuits for a very nominal sum.
  • Serving of refreshments goes on amongst all the regular duties and crises – just another job to fit in.

11.45 a.m.

  • Leave Centre to pick up from Kindergarten and return to their homes the ‘morning’ children.

12.30 – 12.50 p.m.

  • Lunch – usually a very mobile meal time!

12.50 p.m.

  • Leave Centre to pick up and deposit at Kindergarten, the afternoon group of children.

1.30 p.m.

  •  Return to Centre and join in with whatever is going on.

2.50 p.m.

  •  Pick up and return to their homes the ‘afternoon’ children.

3.20 p.m.

  • Return to the Centre – continue as before.  Voluntary helper goes home.

5.00 p.m.

  • Close Centre – clear up, check money and remove it for the night; clear and clean up; wash up crockery etc.  Wash and spin dry towels for ready for next day, rarely finished before 5.30 p.pm.
  • All these things happen to a greater or lesser degree every day.  There may be home visits necessary some days; or ‘pick-ups” of donated goods dor the shop from the railway depots or private homes.   Always there are piles of mending – buttons, elastic to be threaded, etc. etc. before clothing can be put in the shop.  Some things have to be laundered and many pressed before sale.
  • The Centre is used very much by the ‘drop outs’ amongst the Aborigines – those who have no home, no job, no stability – the old and the young who sleep out.  Very often the young ones wash their clothing and sit around until it is dry.
  • Many families now established in state houses still come back to see us and purchase household linen and clothing for themselves and their children.

Amongst these are:-

  • Melva and Edgar Quartermaine
  • Moggeridge family
  • Bonny Morrison
  • Rosie and Ruth Woods
  • Ruby Calyon
  • Marjorie Comeagain
  • Sylvia Pryor
  • Joan and Victor Isaacs
  • Margaret Binder
  • Glenys Garlett
  • Kathy Jones
  • Mippy family


Callers over the last month include also:-

  • Morgan Edghill
  • Noline Penny
  • Clarice Hill
  • Tim Calyon
  • Rene Morrison
  • Elizabeth Khan
  • Bruce Hart
  • Freda Bolton
  • Barbara Ugle
  • Dora Haywood
  • Sylvia Coyne
  • Claudette Bolton
  • Michael Hansen
  • Ruth Holt
  • Bernadette Jones
  • Aubrey Slater
  • Teddy Cron
  • Melville Howard
  • Cissie Ugle
  • Diana Coyne
  • Patrick Winmar
  • Dianne Moore
  • Cynthia Moore
  • May Garlett
  • Leonie Bropho
  • Allie Hart
  • Elizabeth Ugle
  • Roma Winmar
  • Percy Boundry
  • Peter Clarkson
  • Rona Williams
  • Cheryl Smith
  • Heather Saunders
  • Gloria Walker
  • Margaret Morgan
  • Kyle Narkle
  • Gloria Lawson

And others from further north to farthest south of the State and inter-state.  The needs of our ‘callers’ vary very much.

It is obvious from remarks overheard and directed to us that the Centre is looked upon as a special place and it is certainly much used.

A precise report would be very difficult but the above account of a day is typical of all days the busy-ness depending on numbers rather than type of need.

We also have a number of regular callers amongst the white population and the Burmese migrants, but by far the greater majority are Aboriginal people.

Mary Elliott

18th May 1972


This document is from the personal papers of Mary Elliott – the language is that of the author

Stephen Hall
Stephen Hall
Lives in Perth, Western Australia.

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