Our Board

About the CSSA Board

Members of the Catholic Social Services Australia (CSSA) Board are appointed by the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference and include persons elected by our member organisations, representatives from the Australian Catholic Bishops, Catholic Religious Australia and those with special expertise in the social sciences or related disciplines.

The CSSA Board is entrusted with the stewardship and trusteeship of advancing CSSA’s work towards a fairer more inclusive society that reflects and supports the dignity, equality and participation of all people.

Dr Maria Harries AM, PhD, GAICD


Appointed by the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference December 2013.

Dr Maria Harries AM is Adjunct Professor at the Curtin University School of Occupational Therapy and Social Work and a Senior Honorary Research Fellow in the School of Population Health at The University of Western Australia.

Dr Harries runs her own consulting practice and also continues her research work including as a research supervisor with a number of PhD students.  She also works with a number of state and national organisations involved with mental health, child, adult and family welfare, and workforce.

From 2002 to 2012 Dr Harries was the inaugural Chairperson of MercyCare. She has held many leadership positions within the mental health and broader social services sector in WA and nationally.  Recently, she was a consultant to the Northern Territory Inquiry into Child Protection and chaired a legislative review committee in Tasmania. Dr Harries also served on the Truth, Justice and Healing Council established to oversee the response of the Church to the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.

In addition to her other ‘portfolio of retirement commitments’, in 2013 Maria assumed the role of Chairperson of Catholic Social Services Australia.  Dr Harries also sits on all CSSA Board Committees.

Mr Michael Austin

Director, CatholicCare Wollongong

CSSA Member Organisation Elected Representative.

Appointed by the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference November 2018.

Michael Austin is a Social Worker with over 30 years experience in the field. Michael studied his undergraduate and post graduate studies in Social Work at the University of NSW, majoring in couple and family therapy.

Mr Austin worked at CatholicCare Sydney for 21 years in practitioner, management and senior executive roles before joining CatholicCare Wollongong in March 2014 as Director. In May 2018 he was appointed Chair of the Catholic social services peak body, Catholic Social Services Australia NSW/ACT.

Mr Austin has presented at national sector conferences, he has served as Vice Chair of the Institute of Counselling, as a member of the Advisory Board of the Bachelor of Counselling and Behavioural Science at the University of Notre Dame, and for 6 years was a member of the Sydney Archdiocesan Catholic Schools Board. He was the elected Board Chair of the national peak body for family and relationships services providers, Family Relationship Services Australia (FRSA), from 2012-2018.

Prior to his work in Catholic social services he worked in the public hospital system, the Department of Defence, and with Westminster Social Services in the United Kingdom.

Mr Austin is also a member of the CSSA Board’s Finance, Audit and Risk Management Committee.

Bishop Paul Bird CSsR

Bishop of Ballarat

Delegate for the Bishops Commission for Social Justice – Mission and Service.

Appointed by the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference May 2016

Bishop Paul Bird joined the formation program of the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer (the Redemptorists) in the mid 1960s and made his profession at Galong on 11 February 1968.

Bishop Bird studied for four years at the Redemptorist seminary in Wendouree in Ballarat, completed his seminary studies at the Yarra Theological Union in Melbourne and was ordained to the priesthood by Bishop John Toohey, Bishop of Maitland, at Waratah in Newcastle on 17 May 1975.

In 1987 the Bishop was appointed superior of the Redemptorist community at Brighton in Melbourne and commenced twenty years of service as editor in the congregation’s publications ministry, Majellan Publications.

Bishop Bird served various terms totalling fifteen years in all as a member of the Provincial Council of the Redemptorist Congregation. He represented the Australian province at the congregation’s general chapter in Brazil in 1991 and, from 2008 until the announcement of his appointment as Bishop of Ballarat, he served as Provincial of the Australian Province of the congregation with overall responsibility for the communities and missions in Australia, New Zealand, the Philippines, Singapore and Malaysia.

Bishop Bird was appointed Eighth Bishop of Ballarat by Pope Benedict XVI on 1 August 2012 and ordained as Bishop on 16 October 2012.

Ms Anita Veivers

Executive Director, Centacare Far North Queensland

CSSA Member Organisation Elected Representative.

Appointed by the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference December 2019

Ms Veivers is a highly experienced executive professional within the community services sector including a five year appointment as CEO of ARC Disability Services Inc. She is a dedicated and enthusiastic leader, recognised by peers as responsive to the diverse needs of a highly changeable political and economic landscape, and the impact on the broader health and community services industry.

Centacare FNQ delivers a broad range of social services across mental health and wellbeing, aged care, disability services, multicultural services and family support services.  Ms Veivers brings firsthand knowledge, and deep experience of social service delivery in regional Australia and the importance of responding to community needs with innovative programs underpinned by a strong evidence base.

Ms Veivers is an experienced Board director, having held both government and community sector directorship appointments. Current appointments include Deputy Chair of the Queensland Disability Advisory Council (ministerial appointment), Member FNQ Regional Community Forum (Qld Government), Member Cairns Regional Council Independent Rates Tribunal and a Committee Member of the Social Enterprise Network for the Tropics.

Ms Veivers is currently a member of the CSSA Board’s Finance, Audit and Risk Management Committee.

CSSA - Catholic Social Services Australia

Clare McNamara

Australian Catholic Bishops Conference Appointee

Appointed by the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference September 2019

Ms McNamara, Special Counsel with Clatyon Utz, is a lawyer based in Canberra.  She was previously a Senior Lawyer with the Truth Justice & Healing Council from 2013 to 2018.

Ms McNamara acts for both private sector and government clients, specialising in dispute resolution, administrative law, and regulatory compliance.  Ms McNamara has managed proceedings seeking review of administrative decisions and advised on the conduct of inquiries.  She has detailed experience and in depth knowledge of the operation of Royal Commissions and the development of appropriate strategy and responsive legal policy.  She has also advised on the exercise of delegations and authorisations, provided training to decision makers and prepared manuals on decision making, procedural fairness and the proper exercise of legislative powers. Other areas of knowledge include stakeholder management and advocacy, workers compensation, work health and safety and general insurance.

Ms McNamara also holds a Masters in Theology.

Ms McNamara sits on the Board’s Mission and Governance Committee.

Robyn Miller PhD

Chief Executive Officer, MacKillop Family Services

Appointed by the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference August October 2017.

MacKillop Family Services is one of the largest providers of specialist services to vulnerable and disadvantaged children, young people and their families in Victoria, New South Wales and Western Australia.

Dr Robyn Miller is a social worker and family therapist with over thirty years’ experience in the community sector, local government and child protection.  She was a senior clinician and teacher for fourteen years at the Bouverie Family Therapy Centre, La Trobe University, and part of an innovative team working with families who have experienced trauma and sexual abuse. Dr Miller has practised in the public and private sectors as a therapist, clinical supervisor, consultant and lecturer and was a member of the Victorian Child Death Review Committee for ten years. She was the recipient of the inaugural Robin Clark memorial PhD scholarship in 2004 and the statewide award for Inspirational Leadership in Victoria in 2010. From 2006-15 she provided professional leadership as the Chief Practitioner within the Department of Human Services in Victoria.

Dr Miller has also worked as a consultant with the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.  In August 2017 Dr Miller was appointed a Director of Catholic Professional Standards.

Dr Miller is the Deputy Chair of CSSA and Chair of the Board’s Mission and Governance Committee.

Kathleen Tierney RSM AO

Catholic Religious Australia Representative

Appointed by the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference May 2018

Sr Kathleen Tierney is a member of the Religious Congregation – Institute of Sisters of Mercy of Australia and Papua New Guinea.

Sr Tierney has expensive leadership, governance, financial management and risk management expertise and experience across multiple fields including social services, education and the Catholic Church.

In addition to numerous past Board appointments, Sr Tierney currently holds Board appointments with Catholic Capital Grants (Victoria) Ltd and Catholic Capital Grants (Victoria) Ltd.

Sr Tierney is also a member of the Professional Standards Resource Group Victoria, the Advisory Board Pallotti College, the Archdiocese of Melbourne Diocesan Finance Council, the Christian Brothers Professional Standards Advisory Group and the Sisters of Good Samaritan Safeguarding Advisory Group.

Sr Tierney is also a member of the CSSA Board’s Mission and Governance Committee.