L-R: Christine Grima, Kirsty Robertson (CEO), Jack de Groot, Bishop Vincent Long, Wendy Hughes and Robert Fitzgerald. Photo: Daniel Nour/Caritas Australia

Caritas Australia's Board

Our Board brings a wealth of experience to our mission to eliminate poverty and build a safe and just world for all. The Board is responsible for guiding our strategic direction, monitoring our accountability and performance, and ensuring our compliance with relevant laws, codes of conduct and ethical standards. 

Robert Fitzgerald, AM

A lawyer by profession, Robert Fitzgerald, AM is currently the NSW Ageing and Disability Commissioner. Previously, Robert has held the roles of Productivity Commissioner, Community and Disability Services Commissioner and Deputy Ombudsman in NSW. From 2012, for three years, he was the inaugural Chair of the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission Advisory Board. The Australian Government also appointed Robert as a Commissioner on the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, from 2013 to 2017. Robert has served on numerous faith based and other non government organisations including as NSW State President of the St Vincent de Paul Society, National Committee Member of Australian Catholic Relief, and President of the Australian Council of Social Services. He has been an Adjunct Professor at Australian Catholic University and currently is an Adjunct Professor at University Of Western Australia.

Virginia Bourke

Virginia Bourke has been Chair of Mercy Health since November 2018 having commenced a second term as a Director in 2016. She previously served as a Director of Mercy Health from 2008-2014 and is Chair of the Mercy Health Corporate Governance, Remuneration and Nomination Committee and a member of the Mercy Health Quality Committee. She has served as a Director of several not-for-profit organisations and is currently Chair of St John Ambulance Victoria and a Director of St John Ambulance Australia. Virginia is a Director of Catholic Health Australia, a Member of the Boards Appointment Committee with the Catholic Archdiocese of Melbourne and an Advisory Council Member for the PM Glynn Institute at Australian Catholic University. Virginia is a lawyer and consultant in private practice with a breadth of corporate governance and commercial experience. She is a consultant in the national health industry group at Minter Ellison Lawyers and previously worked as General Counsel for the Institute of Sisters of Mercy of Australia and Papua New Guinea and as Special Counsel in the Employment Law group at Minter Ellison Lawyers. Virginia brings a community perspective to roles informed by her long involvement with local parish, school and not-for-profit organisations. Ms Bourke will take up her position as Pro-Chancellor of Australian Catholic University on 1 July 2022 for a term of five years.

Chair - Mission, People and Culture Committee.

Jack de Groot

Jack de Groot is the CEO of the St Vincent de Paul Society in NSW. He is Chair of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference’s Implementation Advisory Group, a Director of St John of God Healthcare, Director of the University of Notre Dame Australia and a Member of the Minister for Foreign Affairs Expert Panel for the Review of the Australian Aid Program. Jack was CEO of Caritas Australia (2000-2013) and during that time served on the Minister for Foreign Affairs Aid Advisory Council. He was also Vice President of the Australian Council for International Development and was the inaugural Chair of the Make Poverty History Campaign (2004-2006).  He has served on the Executive governance of Caritas Internationalis and was the Chair of the International Advocacy Committee of Caritas Internationalis.

Member of the Programs and Impact Committee.

Patricia Faulkner AO

Patricia Faulkner AO has enjoyed a career that has spanned the most senior levels of the public, private, and community sectors. She currently serves on a number of Boards, including Chair of Jesuit Social Services, Deputy Chair of Catholic Professional Standards Ltd., Director/Trustee of a major superannuation fund and Chair of an advisory committee to the CEO of the Commonwealth Bank. She is Chair of the Melbourne Academic Centre for Health Council, and board member of the Melbourne Theatre Company. Her board appointments have covered a range of industries including, medical research, telecommunications, the arts, superannuation, banking, government administration, health, and welfare services. In 2015/16, she served as a Royal Commissioner enquiring into family violence in Victoria. She also served as the Secretary, Department of Human Services in Victoria.

Member of the Audit, Finance and Risk Committee. 

Christine Grima

Christine Grima is a Partner at Newgate Communications with more than 25 years of experience working in stakeholder, community and government engagement, and strategic communications for major projects and reforms. In recent years, Christine has specialised as a strategic communications advisor for NSW government agencies and private companies delivering high-profile projects, where she has helped clients achieve social license and managed reputational risks under community, media and stakeholder scrutiny. Christine is on the Board of Regional Opportunities Australia, a not-for-profit organisation which seeks to connect migrants and refugees with employment opportunities.

Chair - Programs and Impact Committee. 

Dr. Martin Laverty

Dr Martin Laverty is the Secretary General of the Federal AMA in Canberra. Previously Dr Laverty was the Chief Executive of the Royal Flying Doctor Service (RFDS) of Australia and of Chief Executive of Catholic Health Australia. He has a PhD in Governance, and is a Federal Government-appointed Director of the National Disability Insurance Agency and the Australian Charities and Not-for-Profits Commission Advisory Board. He is a Director of Health Direct. He is a former member of the NSW Public Service Commission, a former Chair of the NSW Heart Foundation, and a former Director of three NSW disability services charities. A lawyer by original training, Dr Laverty’s PhD was in board governance of health care organisations. He also holds an honorary appointment as Adjunct Professor at the University of Western Australia’s Not-for-Profit Initiative.

Wendy Hughes

Wendy Hughes, National Chief Financial Officer of Calvary Health Care since April 2019, has more than 20 years of Senior Executive experience across a broad range of financial, corporate services, and operational management roles. In her last public health sector role, as the Acting Chief Financial Officer and Deputy Secretary Financial Services and Asset Management, Wendy led the Health Cluster’s $24 billion budget process, financial performance, implementation of the NSW Government’s financial management transformation initiative, and development of the Ministry’s ICT Strategy and Roadmap. Wendy has been instrumental in the development and implementation of the current framework for governing the financial and non-financial performance of public hospitals across the NSW Health system. Wendy also holds a Bachelor of Business and is a Fellow of CPA Australia.

Chair - Audit, Finance and Risk Committee.

The Honourable John Watkins AM


John Watkins is currently Chair of Catholic Health Australia, a Director of Catholic Professional Standards Limited, Director of the Central Coast Local Health District Board and member of the Governing Council of NeuRA. John started his working life as a secondary school teacher. In 1995 he was elected to the State Parliament as Member for Gladesville and then Ryde and went on to fill the positions of Minister for Finance, Police, State Development, Education and Training, Corrective Services, Fair Trading, Sport and Recreation and Transport in the NSW Labor Government. In 2005 John was elected to the position of Deputy Premier of NSW. After resigning from Parliament in 2008, John took up the position of CEO of Alzheimer’s NSW. Between 2013 and 2014 he served as the Chancellor of the University of New England.