The Perl community is old (as in "has existed for a long time", not "is a bunch of gray-bearded guys"), and thus very diverse. We have RFC-fetishists, UI-enthusiasts, old-timey administrators, new-age administrators, strict traditional developers, agile developers, hobby developers, scientific users, people who mostly work on back-ends, people who work mostly on front-ends, people that only use Perl, and people that using other languages as well, people only writing glue, and people writing big applications.
Perl's a tool, and the community has lots of faces. Each larger project also gathers different communities around them. The Padre community is very open and encouraging, perl5porters on the other hand is stricter, which I like, since they maintain the core. Considering that these people get along fine in real life (I was only at one YAPC yet, but it was a blast), it might all come down to the non-personal nature of IRC and mailing lists, especially in high-frequency channels. Also, since I personally know of many developers who help out on IRC while trying to get their own work done, I see considerable effort to help people, newbies or not.
And then there's the fact that some newbies want answers now, and not documentation that will help them figure out their question better. But since "quick and dirty" doesn't fly with Modern Perl anymore, that's what they often get when the problems or use-cases are too vague.
I won't deny though that many sub-communities in Perl could use a couple more people that are on IRC helping people in their spare time. But I can hardly fault anyone for that, when I have free time for Perl I'm usually not watching the IRC channels but working either on my own modules, or getting some experience with a new library that came out.
So, to sum up: "It depends." If you're interested in the Perl community, I'd suggest looking for a PerlMonger group near you. Some PerlMonger groups give talks during their meetings, but they are mostly social events for hanging around nice people.