A proud history of support
Arthritis & Osteoporosis WA owes its beginnings to two Rheumatologists, Drs Phyllis Goatcher and Evan Owen, who saw the importance of forming a foundation that would provide extensive care, educate patients, and fund further research.
There was little support for those with arthritic conditions in Western Australia decades before WW II. Dr Goatcher’s arrival from the UK in 1953 marked a turning point in the care of rheumatology patients, and she worked tirelessly to improve the quality of care and establish specialised clinics.
By 1972, Drs Goatcher and Owen realised that the best way to tackle the problem of rheumatic disease in the state was by forming a foundation, and the Western Australian Arthritis and Rheumatism Foundation (WAARF) was born.
WAARF was inaugurated in October 1972 as a non-government organisation. Its first home was an office freely offered by the ANZ Bank in Murray Street.
The foundation embraced its constitution a month later, revealing ambitions far exceeding its modest origins. The first meeting of the Board of Management on December 4, 1972, articulated objectives infused with unwavering commitment: ‘to alleviate the debilitating effects of rheumatism within Western Australia’s community’.
Dr. Phyllis Goatcher garnered community recognition for her tireless work, earning her the prestigious title of Citizen of the Year in June 1975; and in 1978 she became a Life Governor and received the distinguished Officer of the Order of Australia (AO) title.
Dr Evan Owen held the Presidency from June 1977 to September 1983. Dr Owen’s dedication was immortalised through his appointment as a Life Governor—an enduring testament to his unwavering commitment.
In 1986, Dr Goatcher significantly contributed to establishing a fund financing visiting Clinical Rheumatologists in Perth. The stipulation that a portion of the fund’s income be reinvested into the capital ensured a perpetual wellspring of support for the cause – a testament to Dr Goatcher’s lasting legacy—this period also witnessed AOWA’s affiliation with the Arthritis Foundation of Australia, bridging geographical distances to fortify the collective fight.
1991, the foundation’s name was updated and changed to ‘Arthritis Foundation of WA Incorporated’. From this modest beginning, the foundation opened its own custom-built Resource Centre in 1994 after a successful Capital Fundraising Appeal, naming the building after Mr Bill Wyllie in appreciation of his significant personal contribution.
In addition to staff offices, the Wyllie Arthritis Centre houses a hydrotherapy pool, gymnasium, seminar and board rooms, café, book shop and leased office space to other tenants.
In 1996, the landscape of arthritis care underwent another evolution as Osteoporosis WA became a division of AOWA. Additionally, the foundation expanded its reach, establishing 30 state-wide Rheumatology Clinics staffed by 15 Specialists and nine Community Nurses, a testament to their commitment to accessible care.
Since then, our organisation has evolved, changing its name to The Arthritis Foundation of WA Incorporated and adopting the trading name Arthritis & Osteoporosis WA (AOWA) in 2011 to reflect our expanded services and broadened vision.
In October 2022, AOWA celebrated its Golden Jubilee, 50 years of serving those affected by musculoskeletal conditions in Western Australia. As we celebrate this significant milestone, we are reminded of the many individuals who have contributed to the legacy and success of our foundation.
From the pioneers who started it all to the volunteers and supporters who continue their legacy, the story of Arthritis and Osteoporosis WA is one of strength and determination.
Arthritis & Osteoporosis WA adheres to the The West Australian Carers Charter.
Location: 17 Lemnos Street, SHENTON PARK WA 6008