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Ralph Sutton

1908 – 1967

Ralph Sutton (1908-1967), Methodist minister, trained in Sydney, was ordained in 1935 and began his career in Mosman Methodist Church. The following year, he was appointed to the Far West Mission at Nyngan, NSW, administering a vast parish. Travelling thousands of kilometres a week, he vitalised the mission before transferring (via Wellington, NSW) to minister in the Sydney slum suburb of Glebe in 1942. Establishing the First Community Church in St Johns Road, for six years he worked to improve the lives and opportunities of street children in the area. Following study overseas, he returned to Newcastle and borrowed money to establish the Australian Christian World newspaper, of which he made a success. In Perth from 1953, he exponentially expanded the congregation at the city's Wesley Church, broadcast three weekly radio sessions, commented on social issues in the West Australian and wrote material that was published posthumously in a 'little book of prayer and aspiration', The Constant Flame in 1997. In 1958 he created Good Samaritan Industries, which offered 'real pay for real work' by people with disabilities. (Now rebranded 'Good Sammy', the organisation has provided employment for thousands of West Australians.) Further, between 1959 and his death Sutton pioneered and developed the first aged-care 'village' in Australia, Rowethorpe, comprising a range of living options, facilities, hospital and hostel care that served as a model for future developments nation-wide. Amongst his other achievements was the development of the Charles Street Youth Centre. More than 1 000 people attended Sutton's funeral service in Perth. The half-century of Good Samaritan Industries in 2008 was marked by the establishment of The Ralph Sutton Education Foundation, to enhance educational opportunities for people with disabilities.

Updated 2018
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