WA Seniors Week – which runs from 6 to 13 November – celebrates the contributions of older Western Australians and it’s a particularly special time for residents at a local not-for-profit aged care home, which uses the week to honour its seniors and the interesting and diverse lives they have lived.
One new resident at the popular Claremont aged care home, Mercy Place Mont Clare, is 75-year-old Charmaine Brown, who started life in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia back in 1947, after her father – a tropical disease pathologist working for the World Health Organisation – was transferred from British Borneo after World War II.
“My parents found living in Malaysia quite difficult for many reasons, so in January 1959 we immigrated to Perth which we felt was like being given another chance to start again,” says Charmaine, whose mother was a teacher at the time, at a local Catholic school.
“I remember very clearly the day we arrived in Fremantle, I was just 12 years old and I remember stopping halfway down the gangway and looking around at the port and just being so happy to be in Australia.”
After being collected by family friends, Charmaine recalls driving past the old Swan Hotel and turning on to Stirling Highway before heading to their new rental home in Nedlands.
“We rented in Nedlands, near the corner of Edward and Bruce Street, and I can still remember every house and shop in the area, including the shop Freecorns. I was really fascinated by the architecture in the area and loved the houses.”
Charmaine was sent to Loreto College in Nedlands and says she can vividly recall walking home after school, getting changed out of her uniform, and going for a stroll up and down the streets in Nedlands and Dalkeith, before playing with her new friends in their front yards.
“The first friend I made was in Fairway Street and I can still remember playing with the other kids while smelling the aromas of dinner cooking in the air, it was always a barbecue and I just thought that was fantastic and very Australian.”
Charmaine went on to have four children of her own and a number of careers, including in retail, fashion and also as a seamstress.
“So much has changed over the decades, but I still have such vivid memories of arriving in Australia, and of living in Perth’s western suburbs,” she says.
Mercy Place Mont Clare General Manager, Dorothy Wijangco, said Seniors Week presented a perfect opportunity for residents like Charmaine to reminisce and chat about their younger years.
“There are many amazing residents like Charmaine at Mercy Place Mont Clare who have had incredibly interesting lives and continue to have a zest for life,” she says.
“Charmaine’s memories of immigrating to Perth and living in and around Nedlands remain vivid and close to her heart, and as a new resident here at Mont Clare she is enjoying talking about her teenage years with fellow residents and also our dedicated staff.
“All of our seniors here in our closely knit community have incredible life stories, and we are very pleased to assist them to take the opportunity to reminisce and enjoy a good old trip down memory lane.”
WA Seniors Week 2022 runs from 6 to 13 November and recognises the important role that seniors play in our community, in addition to celebrating the contributions of older Western Australians.
Mercy Health is a Catholic not-for-profit provider of care, founded by the Sisters of Mercy and grounded in a 2000-year tradition of caring for those in need. The organisation provides health and aged care services throughout Victoria, southern New South Wales, Western Australia, Queensland and the Australian Capital Territory.
In Western Australia, the organisation cares for more than 300 people across five residential aged care homes, with 78 retirement living units.