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Orana

by Ms JM Johnston, Orana Resident

‘Orana’ – Child of the Lutheran Church,
Stands high on the side of a hill,
And on this beautiful Sabbath morning,
All is peaceful and still.
The trees in their coats of leafy green,
Stand sentinel all around,
And nearer still, all round our Home,
Flowers of all colours abound.
Up here on our high verandah,
Though we can’t hear church bells ring,
We can always have a song in our heart
And think of the joy they bring.
My own special memory,
Of a land across the sea,
Where bells on a Sunday morning
Ring out so merrily.
Yes, Orana is built on a lovely site,
And someday if all goes well,
There will be a bigger Orana,
Where more happy old folk will dwell.

A history of caring

Orana began with one person’s dream to create a caring home away from home for older people in our community. 
Orana was built with the love, devotion, hard work and generous support of many:

– the congregations of St John’s Lutheran Church Kingaroy and many other Lutheran churches

– the Christian communities of Kingaroy and the South Burnett

– local individuals, families, businesses, service clubs and community organisations.

The Orana South Burnett Lutheran Rest Home opened in 1970 with 17 hostel residents and 6 staff. More than 500 people attended the opening and dedication.

The founding committee and early volunteers – congregation members, friends, family and community – worked together tirelessly and selflessly to build Orana, and then keep growing. The first Matron Joyce Kucks (whose dream Orana was) 
and her husband Norman (Orana’s first Caretaker) famously worked for no pay for the first six months.

Orana represented the South Burnett’s first supported living environment for the aged – or old folks’ home as they called it. The elevated site was chosen for its cool breezes, winter warmth, room for growth and panoramic views of Kingaroy and the Bunya Mountains.

The name ‘Orana’ was suggested by founding committee member Esme Chalmers. Esme got the idea from a book of Aboriginal words Joyce Kucks had lent to her when the committee was searching for a name. According to the book, ‘Orana’ meant ‘welcome’. The committee loved the name. From that day on, the old folks’ home was known as Orana.

With short vacancies and long waiting lists, Orana quickly expanded its accommodation, facilities and offerings, more 
than doubling in size in the first five years. In the 1970s and 1980s, Orana provided catering and held food stalls to raise funds for ongoing expansion and improvement. Again the loyal congregation, many volunteers and a generous community made it happen.

When money was being raised to develop the nursing home in the late 1970s, a ‘fundraising barometer’ at the end 
of Kingaroy Street showed progress towards the $200,000 goal – a considerable sum at the time. This goal was ultimately surpassed and the nursing home opened in 1980. Again more than 500 people attended the opening and dedication.

Further funds were enthusiastically raised to build a chapel in the mid 1980s. The dedicated, freestanding chapel building is a distinguishing feature of Orana today and the heart of the complex and community.

The rotunda at St John’s Lutheran Church in Kingaroy was originally part of Orana. It was relocated due to expansions in the 1990s. The rotunda today is a popular gathering place at St John’s – and a lasting legacy of the congregation’s long and strong connection with Orana.

Orana has always emphasised the dignity, independence and holistic care of the individual in a homelike environment. 
A diverse and balanced resident program comprised pastoral care, physiotherapy, occupational therapy, music and art therapy, podiatry, personal development, social activities and recreational outings. Gardens were always a big part of Orana and residents were encouraged to help with the gardening – a tradition that continues to this day.

The transition to Lutheran Community Care

In the late 1990s, increasingly complex regulation requirements combined with an increasingly challenging market saw the Lutheran Church of Australia Queensland District establish an umbrella organisation – Lutheran Community Care – to manage all of the district’s aged care and community services operations, including Orana.

Having worked so hard and with such devotion to raise Orana over more than 25 years, many in the management committee, congregation and supporter network found this transition difficult. With the benefit of hindsight, we now see many aspects of this transition could have been handled better.

What didn’t change however were the Orana name, welcome and spirit.

Orana today, part of the family

Lutheran Community Care was renamed Lutheran Services in 2017. As the operator of Orana today, Lutheran Services recognises the considerable achievements and challenges of the past. We thank the many congregation and committee members, volunteers and supporters for their grace, devotion and hard work. Their efforts and endeavours continue to benefit Orana’s many residents, clients and staff today.

Lutheran Services was established to ensure the ministry of care envisaged and established by Orana’s founders would continue to thrive, so more people could experience Christ’s love through their services. We hope this origin story project will 
help to record, share and celebrate the incredible journey and spirit that built Orana 
and continue to make it such a special place.

In the 2020s, more than half a century on, Orana is home to around 100 aged care residents and a lively community of independent retirement living residents in some 
20 cottages. Orana provides home care/support and NDIS services for around 200 households throughout the South Burnett region. Orana is also a great place to work 
and is a respected and valued employer of more than 110 staff.

Lutheran Services, There for you

As managers of Orana and many other aged care and community services today, Lutheran Services is a leading 
not-for-profit provider of human services in Queensland. As a department of the Lutheran Church of Australia Queensland District, Lutheran Services seeks to draw from, express and add to the life and mission of the Church. The organisation has grown out of the dreams and hard work of its founding Lutheran congregations.

Lutheran Services draws on the rich Lutheran tradition of care for the individual, family and community. It provides 
quality, contemporary support for older people, young people and their carers, people living with a disability or mental illness, and families experiencing domestic violence and hardship. The organisation serves many metropolitan, regional 
and rural communities from more than 25 sites throughout Queensland – from Tallebudgera to Rockhampton.

While these sites and services are very different in where they are and what they do, they all have one thing in common: they began with a local congregation working together to meet a need and serve their region and community. These endeavours were often the first services of their kind in their region. Some were the first of their kind in Queensland. 
Today, they are integral and highly respected contributors to their communities and industries, providing vital care, 
support, employment and leadership.

Timeline

1967
  • 11 acre site purchased
1970
  • Foundation stone laid
12 April
  • Orana opened 
6 September
  • 17 hostel residents
  • 6 staff
1972
  • Expansion of hostel 
and development of 
self-contained cottages
  • 17 hostel residents
  • 8 staff
1974
  • Three wings named for founding Committee Secretary and first Matron Joyce Kucks, founding Committee Member Pastor Henry Beach and former LCAQD President Pastor Herb Schmidt
  • 33 hostel residents
  • 5 independent living cottages
  • 11 staff
1976
  • 51 hostel residents
  • 8 independent living cottages
  • 18 staff
1980
  • 40 bed nursing
home opened
1982
  • 40 nursing home residents
  • 51 hostel residents
  • 12 independent 
living cottages
  • 73 staff
1986
  • Orana Memorial 
Chapel opened
1990
  • Dedicated dementia unit opened—Schmidt Lodge
  • 40 nursing home residents
  • 53 hostel residents
  • 21 independent living cottages
  • 85 staff
1994
  • Development of 2 new 8
bed hostels—Bunya Lodge
and Mountain View Lodge
  • Total 125 beds
  • 93 staff
1999
  • Lutheran Community Care is formed to manage the growing family of services provided by Queensland Lutheran Church congregations.
2005
  • New nursing home/lodges opened
2014
  • Home care/support services commenced
  • 94 aged care residents
  • 25 retirement living units
  • 110 staff
2016
  • Mental health research project commenced
2017
  • Lutheran Services becomes the new face of Lutheran Community Care
2018
  • NDIS disability and mental health support services commenced
2020
  • Home maintenance services commenced
2021
  • Monument commemorating ‘the pioneering vision of Joyce and Norman Kucks’ erected to mark 50th anniversary. Unveiling ceremony (delayed due to COVID restrictions) attended by many 
of Joyce and Norman’s family.
2023
  • 94 aged care residents
  • 19 retirement living units
  • around 200 home care/support and NDIS clients throughout the South Burnett
  • 110+ staff
1967
  • 11 acre site purchased
1970
  • Foundation stone laid
12 April
  • Orana opened 
6 September
  • 17 hostel residents
  • 6 staff
1972
  • Expansion of hostel 
and development of 
self-contained cottages
  • 17 hostel residents
  • 8 staff
1974
  • Three wings named for founding Committee Secretary and first Matron Joyce Kucks, founding Committee Member Pastor Henry Beach and former LCAQD President Pastor Herb Schmidt
  • 33 hostel residents
  • 5 independent living cottages
  • 11 staff
1976
  • 51 hostel residents
  • 8 independent living cottages
  • 18 staff
1980
  • 40 bed nursing
home opened
1982
  • 40 nursing home residents
  • 51 hostel residents
  • 12 independent 
living cottages
  • 73 staff
1986
  • Orana Memorial 
Chapel opened
1990
  • Dedicated dementia unit opened—Schmidt Lodge
  • 40 nursing home residents
  • 53 hostel residents
  • 21 independent living cottages
  • 85 staff
1994
  • Development of 2 new 8
bed hostels—Bunya Lodge
and Mountain View Lodge
  • Total 125 beds
  • 93 staff
1999
  • Lutheran Community Care is formed to manage the growing family of services provided by Queensland Lutheran Church congregations.
2005
  • New nursing home/lodges opened
2014
  • Home care/support services commenced
  • 94 aged care residents
  • 25 retirement living units
  • 110 staff
2016
  • Mental health research project commenced
2017
  • Lutheran Services becomes the new face of Lutheran Community Care
2018
  • NDIS disability and mental health support services commenced
2020
  • Home maintenance services commenced
2021
  • Monument commemorating ‘the pioneering vision of Joyce and Norman Kucks’ erected to mark 50th anniversary. Unveiling ceremony (delayed due to COVID restrictions) attended by many 
of Joyce and Norman’s family.
2023
  • 94 aged care residents
  • 19 retirement living units
  • around 200 home care/support and NDIS clients throughout the South Burnett
  • 110+ staff