CatholicCare and Marymead to join forces

Karyn Starmer 26 July 2021
Two women sitting on chairs talking

Marymead and CatholicCare Canberra & Goulburn will merge to create one agency, but frontline services will be unaffected. Photo: Marymead CatholicCare Canberra & Goulburn.

Two of Canberra’s leading community organisations are joining forces, with Marymead and CatholicCare Canberra & Goulburn merging to create one agency: Marymead CatholicCare Canberra & Goulburn.

Both Marymead and CatholicCare have been operating in the Canberra region as separate agencies delivering community services to the region with a collective history of more than 118 years.

Marymead – founded in 1967 – has offices in Canberra, Goulburn, Moruya, Young and Wagga Wagga. Their programs and services include child and family counselling, early intervention programs, Permanency Program (out of home care), post-separation support, the Autism Centre, parent education groups, family and mental health support programs and contact and changeover services for separated parents in significant conflict.

CatholicCare – founded in 1957 – operates from the region’s “extensive coastline, to the Snowy Mountains, to the rolling hills and flat plains out west”. Services include counselling, family and homelessness support, NDIS services, mental health, aged care, youth outreach, drug and alcohol or housing support.

The announcement by the Archdiocese of Canberra and Goulburn follows a review of the future governance and operational arrangements for agencies conducted by the Archdiocese. The Archdiocese said the merger has the full support of the boards, CEOs and executives of both Marymead and CatholicCare Canberra & Goulburn.

In a statement, the Archdiocese said: “As Canberra and its surrounding region continues to grow, and the community and social services sector continues to change significantly, we need to ensure our organisations can continue to maximise growth opportunities, build capabilities and ensure our ongoing sustainability.”

The merger comes with the establishment of a new governing and leadership structure. Anne Kirwan has been appointed group CEO, and Tracey Hall (Marymead) and Lisa Higginson (CatholicCare Canberra & Goulburn) have been appointed group deputy CEOs.

Ms Kirwan said she is thrilled to lead the coming together of the two well established organisations.

Anne Kirwan

Anne Kirwan has been appointed as the new Marymead CatholicCare Canberra & Goulburn group CEO. Photo: Marymead CatholicCare Canberra & Goulburn.

“For decades, CatholicCare Canberra & Goulburn and Marymead have worked alongside each other, providing quality services to individuals and families in need,” she said.

“This is a fantastic opportunity for us to come together and better utilise our skills, resources and expertise to do more within our communities.”

Ms Kirwan said the change is designed to better place the agencies to deal with a growing population, changing demographics and an expected increase in need for community services.

Frontline services for Marymead and CatholicCare Canberra & Goulburn will be unaffected.

Ms Kirwan said there will be no disruption to service or delivery for both organisations.

“It will be business as usual,” she said. “Whoever is providing services this week will still be providing the same services next week.

“Behind the scenes we will be working hard to bring the organisations together. At some stage there may be some changes, but we are confident that all the changes will be positive. This change will mean we are able to expand our suite of services, including improved cross-referral.

“We are bringing together two significant community organisations now with a collective staff of more than 600 people. This is not a cost cutting exercise; this is about bringing together agencies to do more.”

Archbishop Christopher Prowse said: “Both Marymead and CatholicCare have been great witnesses during the years of the Archdiocese’s care for the vulnerable in our region. Now joined together, that closeness will be amplified.”


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