About us

Our history

Over the past 100 years the Roman Catholic Church in the Kimberley region of Western Australia has had a strong focus on providing social support services. From the establishment of Bishop’s Cooperative that supplied low cost white goods, to offering low cost funeral services, to the building of schools that gave people access to education, the Church has maintained a commitment to supporting and empowering Aboriginal people. Centacare Kimberley was born from that commitment.

In the late 1980’s Mr Joseph (Nipper) Roe, Mr Donnelly McKenzie and Mr Kevin Puertollano came together with Sister Leone Collins of the Sisters of St John of God, and created the Aboriginal Visitors Service, that they offered to people in Broome Prison. It was soon realised that Aboriginal people in the Kimberley region did not have access to formal counselling services, so the team worked together to establish the Pinakarra Aboriginal Counselling Service which was successfully run by Mr Joe Roe for many years.

Establishing an Aboriginal counselling service in the early 1990s was a bold move, and despite many challenges, the team went on to create a specialist training program, that enabled large numbers of Aboriginal people to gain a counselling qualification over a 20 year timeframe. From those humble beginnings, a social services organisation grew, and in 1997 the name Centacare Kimberley was adopted. Mr Donnelly McKenzie became the inaugural Chairperson, and Sister Leone Collins was appointed the first Director.

From that foundation we have grown into an integrated support organisation that delivers essential services to people across the Kimberley. We now have 4 service centres and deliver support in the areas of homelessness, housing, reintegration, emergency relief, family support and accommodation. Our focus on building the community’s capacity to provide quality services has been maintained through formal partnerships with strong local Aboriginal organisations such as KAMS, DAHS, NBY, Nirrumbuk and Marninwarntikura.


Over the past 30 years Centacare Kimberley has established a large team of local and dedicated support workers who represent Aboriginal language groups from across the Kimberley region. As an organisation we remain committed to empowering people in our region, and, in continuing the rich traditions that begun in the 1980s through the partnership that was formed between, Sister Leone Collins, Mr Joe Roe, Mr Donnelly McKenzie and Mr Kevin Puertollano.