Perth takes action to tackle global poverty, Caritas names new CEO

Project Compassion is one of Australia’s largest humanitarian fundraising and awareness raising campaigns. It provides the funds to enable the world’s most vulnerable communities break the cycle of poverty. Photo: Supplied.

Thousands of generous supporters – including individuals, schools and parishes across Perth – have joined in solidarity with the world’s poor, donating nearly $1.2 million to Caritas Australia’s Project Compassion Lenten campaign.

Held annually over the six weeks of Lent, Project Compassion seeks to help end poverty, promote justice and uphold dignity and this year took on the theme of “Give Lent 100%”.

One of the highlights of this year’s Project Compassion was the launch event at St Mary’s Cathedral on 3 March, followed by a schools launch at Clontarf Aboriginal College on 5 March, which began with a traditional Aboriginal smoking and Welcome to Country ceremony.

After the Mass, which was celebrated by Bishop Donald Sproxton, students were

addressed by Caritas Indonesia-Karina’s Yohanes Baskoro, who spoke about his experience of Caritas Australia’s work with marginalised communities across Indonesia.

One school, which this year demonstrated how Project Compassion changes lives when we all give 100 per cent, was Santa Maria College in Melville, raising $6000 for the work of Caritas Australia.

Richard Landels, Caritas Australia’s Head of Engagement and Sustainability, thanked the community for their support.

“By giving generously at Project Compassion time, the people of Australia are showing that when we sow seeds of Hope we reap the fruit of love and compassion,” Mr Landels said.

“For more than 54 years, Project Compassion has helped change the lives of millions people. The generosity of our supporters makes this possible. With this support, Caritas Australia is able to go wherever the challenges are greatest, giving voice and agency to the most vulnerable.”

Current Mary MacKillop Today CEO Kirsty Robertson has been named the impending CEO of Caritas Australia. Photo: Supplied.

Current Mary MacKillop Today CEO Kirsty Robertson has been named the impending CEO of Caritas Australia. Photo: Supplied.

Meanwhile, Kirsty Robertson, an experienced and accomplished leader of Catholic ministries and not-for-profit organisations, will serve as Caritas Australia’s new Chief Executive, the chairman of the National Council announced on 6 August.

Bishop of Broome Christopher Saunders said Ms Robertson’s professional skills and her personal conviction would help her be a leading voice with the Church and the broader community on important issues.

“Kirsty has a keen sense of social justice and a proven track record of working to help those in our world who are disadvantaged and marginalised,” Bishop Saunders said.

“Grounded in strong faith, she will apply herself to ensure that Caritas Australia remains dedicated to living the Gospel, which promises hope to a world in need of charity and justice.”

Ms Robertson worked for Caritas Australia from 2009 until 2011, serving as coordinator of the organisation’s Pacific programmes and later as the group leader of communications.

She is currently Chief Executive of Mary MacKillop Today, an organisation carrying on the work of Australia’s first saint.

Mary MacKillop Today works in Australia and overseas, including in Timor-Leste, in a range of areas including education, no- and low-interest loans and First Nations community development.

Ms Robertson recognises the important legacy she will be carrying forward as she takes up her new role on 16 September.

“For more than 50 years, Caritas Australia has represented so much of the goodness in humanity – a story of love and compassion that our world so desperately needs,” she said.

“As a small child, I put my pocket money into the Project Compassion box and I then went on to start my working life in one of Caritas’ programs, so to be appointed to this role at Caritas Australia feels a little like coming home.”

Ms Robertson called it “an incredible honour” to serve with the National Council, the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference and a community of staff and supporters “who share not just their knowledge, experience or money but their humanity”.

“May we together continue to amplify the voice of the poor and walk in solidarity with our brothers and sisters throughout the world,” she stated.

Caritas Australia is the official international aid agency of the Catholic Church in Australia and is part of Caritas Internationalis, a family of 165 national Catholic relief and development agencies.

To learn more about Caritas Australia and Project Compassion, visit:


This article first appeared in The Record on 08 Aug 2019 and is republished with permission.


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