The Pathways Taskforce

The first meeting of the newly formed Pathways Taskforce (initially known as the CHA Leader Formation Taskforce) was held on August 12, 2013. The Taskforce was established in response to the mandate given at the April CHA Governance Conference. It represents the diversity of CHA membership and levels of governance and leadership responsibility. It will have a central role in designing the components of the CHA Leader Formation Strategy and overseeing their implementation.

The meeting provided the opportunity for Taskforce members to be introduced to one another and to appreciate the areas of expertise and interest each person brings. The Taskforce Terms of Reference (TOR) were approved. For details of the TOR and membership, click here.

Minutes from the meetings of the Taskforce will be posted on this page and can be viewed by clicking on the following links:

Minutes of the first Pathways Taskforce meeting (August 2013)

Minutes of the second Pathways Taskforce meeting (October 2013)

Minutes of the third Pathways Taskforce meeting (December 2013)

Minutes of the fourth Pathways Taskforce meeting (April 2014)

Pathways report presented to CHA Stewardship Board (April 2014)

Early steps will be to identify priorities and timelines for a range of possible initiatives. Data needs to be gathered about the number of people likely to be needed in key governance and leadership roles. A gap analysis needs to be conducted to identify areas where members would most benefit from the development of new initiatives. These and other steps will be considered in the articulation of several phases of work. The Taskforce recognises the need to be constantly alert to the emerging context of health and aged care service delivery in both the planning and implementation stages.

It was agreed that regular communication to CHA members would be essential to achieving the goals of the Taskforce. This dedicated section of the CHA website has been created to communicate progress and other relevant information. A report will be provided in the CHA Newsletter following each meeting and retained on this dedicated website page.

Integroe Survey, May to August 2014

Between April and July 2014 Kerry Brettell of Integroe Partners was contracted to conduct a survey on behalf of the CHA Pathways Taskforce to gather information about governance and leadership roles, recruitment and orientation processes for trustees, board directors and senior leaders, recruitment strategies for these positions plus mission leaders and pastoral practitioners, tools for assessment of formation needs, and current approaches and availability of formation opportunities. The results of the survey will help shape the focus, priority and linkages for the proposed Pathways projects.

A representative group of governance and operational leaders participated. Information was  gathered via a survey instrument and face-to-face or phone interviews. Having an independent agent conduct this information-gathering process was seen as strengthening results of the exercise and enhancing communication about Pathways. The learnings from the Final Report were presented to CHA members at a plenary session of the National Conference in August. 

Taskforce members

FR GERRY ARBUCKLE is a Christian anthropologist with an international reputation for applying his research and insights to the challenges of health service delivery and associated pastoral issues. Fr Gerry has wide experience in observing and participating in formation programs in Australia and North America.

The particular areas of the Taskforce Terms of Reference that most engage him are:
• Overseeing mapping and analysis of existing formation strategies and resources; and
• Promoting the importance of leader formation through consultation and engagement of all stakeholders including large and small, regional and remote services.

DR TONY BAKER brings a strong commitment to the principles of formation in the healthcare environment as it relates not only to leaders, but to the full spectrum of workers and caregivers. He holds the view that the never ending journey of formation which is reflective, inclusive and authentic, delivers benefits way beyond the mere process of participation. Not only is it life affirming, but apart from anything else it is actually good business.

Perhaps as we get older and hopefully wiser, we can see more clearly what the characteristics of truly worthwhile organizations are, and that those enterprises at the end of the day reflect the collective richness of the individuals who make up the enterprise. The challenge is to recruit everyone into a formation experience, not just leaders. Having a clinical background may be helpful at times in bringing an understanding of how a formation approach might be integrated with the broader preparation and development of clinicians in their roles.
With respect to the TOR he is keen to gain clarity around who the target audience is with a view to extending the formation experience more widely beyond leaders and key personnel to include all workers and caregivers in a way that is non-threatening and invitational.

SR HELEN CLARKE is a Sister of Charity of Australia and a Trustee of Mary Aikenhead Ministries which is based in Sydney and responsible for health and aged care, education and welfare ministries in Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria that were previously under the leadership of the Sisters of Charity of Australia. Helen has responsibility for formation across their ministries.

Her qualifications include B.A. M.Ed. and a Dip. Counselling. Helen has served as Congregational Leader of the Sisters of Charity of Australia, has a background in Catholic Education and has served on several health and education boards, including St. Vincent’s Health Australia. She is currently a Trustee of St. Vincent’s Public Hospital Sydney. Helen is a member of a retreat team at St. Vincent’s Hospital Sydney and also conducts retreats for women in isolated rural areas in NSW.

CATH GARNER has ten years’ experience in education and staff development and more than ten years’ experience in mission integration in a Catholic health system that now encompasses acute care, post-acute care and residential aged care. Her experience is supported by qualifications in nursing education, organisational development and theology.

Cabrini has recently experienced significant changes in leadership at both the board and executive level. Whereas previously Cabrini was able to rely on an implicit knowledge of the ‘right’ thing to do, the leadership change became a catalyst to be more explicit about Catholic identity and to develop systems, strategies and resources to assist and support formation of our leaders.

In addition to leadership formation Cath’s key related interests are:
• How the charism of the founders is able to motivate and challenge lay leaders today;
• Positioning ethics as the core pillar of an organisational integrity framework;
• Responsibility, accountability and effective delivery of spiritual and emotional care;
• The strategic vision, strategic plan and budget as an expression of mission priorities;
• Establishment of effective ‘mission governance’ frameworks and reporting methodologies.

She believes her greatest contribution will be in the areas of formation strategies and resources and understanding the issues impacting on effective lay governance of Catholic health and aged care services.




KEVIN MERCER is CEO of Holy Spirit Care Services (HSCS) which has at its heart the continuation of the missionary works of the Holy Spirit Missionary Sisters and the practical delivery of that reflects the charism of the Sisters, their legacy of service and the lived experience of the communities they have served. He has been privileged to work at HSCS for over 5 years and brings a finance and business background from other industries such as telecommunications and utilities.

Whilst not a Catholic he has a personal respect for all religious and non-religious beliefs that people may hold. As an organisation, HSCS has a Code of Conduct founded on a set of generally accepted Christian Values and a non-discriminatory service and recruitment policy supported by its constitutional objects. Residents, staff, management and Board Directors have a diverse range of cultures and faiths but all share the HCSC Code of Conduct.

The areas that he would expect to invest time and expertise include balancing the ‘who we are’ and ‘why we exist’ with modern day organizational and societal challenges.

A key question guiding our work is, how we can develop and sustain a Catholic point of difference in health services that improves our sustainability and competitiveness without limiting our capacity to attract appropriate leadership resources.


FR JOSEPH PARKINSON STL PhD has been a priest of the Perth diocese for nearly 33 years. He is a theological educator with pastoral and academic experience in the field of Catholic moral theology and bioethics. For the last 10 years this has included providing a full-time ethics consultation and education service to private individuals, Catholic and other health care systems, government and public sector. He continues to write and work in theological education and pastoral formation at undergraduate, postgraduate and adult learning levels.

As a Trustee of St John of God Healthcare he has a particular interest in several areas including: defining the ecclesial identity of lay-led PJPs, and translating this into corporate structures, policies and practices; relations between lay-led PJPs and local churches; creating appropriate governance structures and pursuing excellence in governance; and the formation of future lay leaders at Trustee, Board, executive and management levels.

He is a passionate advocate of the ecclesiology of Vatican II. As a moral theologian his specific areas of interest and experience are: the theology of conscience; formal and material cooperation, and particularly institutional cooperation; and the history of moral theology.
He expects his major contribution to the Taskforce would lie in TORs 1, 3, 7 and 8.


SUSAN SULLIVAN joined Catholic Health Australia in October 2010 as Director, Mission Strategy. Previously she was Director of Mission at Calvary Health Care ACT for five years where she was the first lay person appointed to the role.

After completing a Masters in Religious Education at Loyola University, Chicago in 1988 Susan worked as Senior Education Consultant at the Catholic Education Office in Perth with responsibilities in the area of staff development and faith formation. Through this and other roles she has developed a commitment to supporting the integration of faith and life in practical, life-enhancing ways.

As CHA Secretariat support to the Taskforce she brings a passion for adult faith formation to the goal of supporting leaders to respond confidently and effectively to the challenge of nurturing the mission and vision of Catholic healthcare. She aims to assist the Taskforce to facilitate new networks, relationships and formation initiatives. She is keen to support long term outcomes in all areas identified for action by the Taskforce.