Home' The Mt Barker Courier : The Courier - 2015-05-06 Contents PAGE 36 – The Courier Wednesday, May 6, 2015
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Support centre a reality
By Lisa Pahl
After a 40-year battle Mt Barker
woman Betty Sickel’s wish for
a place to support people with
disabilities has finally come true.
The final stage of a multi-million
dollar project to provide homes, respite
and support services for the disabled in
the Hills was opened late last month.
Hill View Lutheran Services to
the Disabled has built four assisted
accommodation units, a respite house
and now a large community centre in
Mt Barker, thanks to land donated by
the late Mrs Sickel 30 years ago, a cash
donation by a generous benefactor and
extensive community support.
It was the realisation of a long-
held dream for the project’s chief
campaigner and Mrs Sickel’s brother,
Pastor Eric Liebelt.
“I think she would be very proud,” he
“She wanted somewhere people with
disabilities could go and have a break
and someone to talk to but there was
A blind, double amputee struck down
by complications with diabetes, Mrs
Sickel knew first-hand the limitations
on care for the disabled in the region.
As one of her family carers, so too did
Pastor Liebelt, who also had a brother
with cerebral palsy.
“When I was nine I used to give her
the injections for her diabetes, four
injections a day,” he said.
One of Mrs Sickel’s wishes was for
a place of respite where people with
disabilities could be cared for while
they, and their families, had a break
from the constant demands of caring.
“That’s what Betty wanted, something
here for people with disabilities, so we
finally got more than what she wanted
with the community centre as well,”
Pastor Liebelt said.
The community centre was the third
stage of the project and will provide
a space for people with disabilities to
access training and support to learn
daily living skills, and come together
for recreational activities such as art
It was a lengthy battle for Pastor
Liebelt and his supporters to secure
approval for the facilities.
“Often people would say to me ‘we’re
not going to get it’ but I wasn’t prepared
to accept that,” he said.
The project received no government
funding, but support came from the
wider community with cash and in
It was through the generosity of
an anonymous benefactor that the
community centre was able to be built
ahead of schedule.
“Often when it was really, really grim
and we really didn’t know where to go,
something would happen to help us,”
Pastor Liebelt said.
“That happened so many times.
“In my lifetime as a pastor I have
seen this again and again, when you
think there’s nothing more you can do
suddenly the little finger of God moves
and you see something different you
Hills Community Options will run
activities at the community centre,
leasing it from Hill View Lutheran
Services to the Disabled.
General manager of organisational
development John Simpson describes
Pastor Liebelt and his many helpers
as a “magical group of people” and said
the new facilities were beyond their
“The unusual thing about this
community centre is its reversal of
what happens everywhere else,” he
“Here we have got a community
centre that is designed for people with
disabilities and we are inviting the
wider community to come and join
us, rather than us trying to fit into a
space at a community centre that isn’t
designed for people with disabilities.”
Hill View Lutheran Services to the Disabled chairman Pastor Eric Liebelt at the newly completed community centre, the third
and final stage in a project to provide more services to the disabled in Mt Barker that was sparked by his late sister, Betty Sickel
about 40 years ago.
AFTER 40 YEARS IN THE PLANNING
Kersbrook Primary School will hold its annual
auction on May 24 with funds raised going
towards projects to help the school recover from
damage caused by the Sampson Flat Bushfire.
The community event allows people to drop off their
pre-loved items at the school oval to be auctioned.
Goods will be accepted for sale at the school oval on
Saturday, May 23, between 9am–5pm or on Sunday,
May 24, between 7am–9am.
Principal Mike Walsh said the whole community
bonded during auction weekend.
“It’s an important time for the community,” he said.
MOUNT BARKER HOMEMAKER CENTRE,
6 DUTTON RD PH: 8391 2355
Savings are off regular ticketed price. SALE ENDS 17TH MAY 2015.
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