EREA welcomes new suite of senior execs
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EREA welcomes new suite of senior executives


March 23, 2023
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Edmund Rice Education Australia (EREA) has welcomed a new suite of senior executives, some of whom will oversee EREA’s new subsidiary companies, one of which is focused on early learning. 


EREA has been a presence in the broader Australian education sector since 1872, offering Catholic education in every state and territory. Edmund Rice institutions aim to offer “a liberating  education, based on a gospel spirituality, within an inclusive community committed to justice and solidarity, where the safety, wellbeing and participation of all children and young people are paramount”.


Among the new appointments are Human Resources (HR) Director Kym Bakaric and six board chairs and CEOs who will oversee EREA’s new subsidiary companies. Dr Stephen Brown has also been appointed as Executive Chair of the EREA Board until January 2024, an evolution of his interim appointment in 2022 due to Dr Brown’s already significant contribution to EREA.


Ms Bakaric has more than 20 years of experience in HR, and has a passion for education and organisational development. She has held various senior HR roles at Victoria University, most recently holding the position of Executive Director of People and Culture, where she was principal advisor to the CEO and executive group. 


“Creating a new HR Director role was central to our commitment to bolster EREA’s service offering and ensure that our entire network gets access to the most highly qualified, specialised

expertise possible,” explained Interim Executive Director Ray Paxton.


“It is wonderful to see Kym already working proactively and strategically to ensure EREA is a place where people feel equipped to support our schools and students, and enact the

charism and tradition of Edmund Rice.”


The additional appointments of subsidiary board chairs and CEOs strengthen EREA’s new organisational structure and enable more specialised and targeted support to be delivered to EREA settings across the country.


Specialised companies created under the restructure include: 


  • EREA Flexible Schools, which serve some of the most marginalised young people in Australia


  • EREA Colleges, which will oversee the colleges and early learning centres across Australia (with the exception of Victoria and New South Wales); and, 


  • EREA New South Wales Colleges, which will govern seven NSW colleges. EREA schools in Victoria will continue to be governed by the Trustees of EREA.


New subsidiary board chair appointments to date


Pauline Gately, Chair of EREA Colleges Ltd


Ms Gately is an accomplished international economist, investment strategist, chair and non-executive director with a wealth of experience across a broad portfolio of board positions in the mining and resources sector, financial technology, profit-for-purpose and fast moving consumer goods industry. 


She has a sharp focus on strategy, risk, and governance, and is currently Interim

Executive Chair of The Sustainable Nutrition Group Ltd, Non-Executive Chair of Kalgoorlie Gold Mining Ltd, and a Non-Executive Director of Ardiden Ltd where she chairs the Audit and Risk Committee and Remuneration and Nomination Committee.


Board members of EREA Colleges are well credentialed professionals in the education sector and other fields, including Liam Smith, Pamela Ronan, Graham White, Vincent Thomas, Karen Bullock, Mary-Eileen Scanlan and Brian Populin.


Sam Hardjono, Board Chair of EREA NSW Colleges Ltd


Mr Hardjono is a senior strategic advisor and has extensive executive experience as CEO, CFO and COO. He has served on inter-governmental, not-for-profit, corporate, private and start-up boards, either as a trustee, non-executive director, or in an advisory capacity for over 20



Currently he is a Non-Executive Director and Chair of Finance and Performance for Healthy North Coast Ltd and Non-Executive Director and Chair of Audit and Risk, Chair of Tech and Cyber for the Australian Red Cross and previously Chair for New South Wales. 


Board members of EREA NSW Colleges are Gregory Baynie, David Lee-Young, Mark Askew, Paul Murray, Caroline Butler Bowdon and Virginia Ryan.


Thelma Parker, Board Chair of EREA Flexible Schools Ltd


Ms Parker is an Aboriginal woman from the Warluwarra/Wangkayujuru/Wangkaymunha clan group and has vast experience in achieving positive educational outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people. 


She has a very good understanding of the need to deliver tangible ‘life’ outcomes through the EREA Flexi model to create holistic and wrap-around services through education that include access to social services, healthcare, mental well-being, housing and also working with correctional services. 


Ms Parker has worked in Catholic education for the past 25 years and has a very deep association with EREA through her sons who both attended Christian Brothers schools and her work with EREA Flexi Schools.


Board members of EREA Flexible Schools are William LeMass, Raelene Garvey, Christopher Veraa, Rob Feeney, Edward Phelan and Marnee Shay.


New CEO/Director appointments 


Chris Woolley, CEO of EREA Colleges Ltd (to commence in May 2023)


Mr Woolley is a senior executive with 25 years’ experience in management, education, law, and policy in both the private and public sectors. He comes to EREA from Queensland Catholic Education Commission, where he is currently the Acting Executive Director, and substantively the Chief Operating Officer and Company Secretary since 2016. 


Maura Manning, CEO of EREA NSW Colleges Ltd


Ms Manning has a unique blend of system and school leadership experience across independent, Catholic and public schools in NSW, and is currently the Director of Learning at Catholic Schools Parramatta Diocese, overseeing 80 schools, 44,000 students and 5,000 staff. 


Matt Hawkins, CEO of EREA Flexible Schools Ltd


Mr Hawkins comes to his appointment from within the EREA network, previously serving as the Principal of the Marlene Moore Flexi Schools Network and Head of Campus at the Hemmant Flexible Learning Centre in Brisbane. Prior to this he spent more than 16 years in Senior Leadership positions at two EREA schools in Queensland. 


Andy Kuppe, Director of Victorian Schools


Mr Kuppe has more than 20 years’ experience in the education sector, and will work alongside the Trustees of EREA to oversee schools in Victoria. He assumes this role after almost five years as Principal at EREA’s Parade College in Victoria. Prior to this appointment, he held various senior leadership roles at schools across Victoria, and worked as CEO of the Edmund Rice International Heritage Centre in Ireland.


Dr Brown welcomed all new appointees, saying they represent “an exciting new chapter” for EREA. 


“At the heart of EREA’s system are good people and processes that support leaders to provide a positive, safe and healthy culture of learning for all. Our new HR Director Kym Bakaric as well as each of the new board chairs and CEOs, are fundamental to making this a reality for every EREA community in every state across the country.”


“I am delighted to see the new governance structure come to life, and confident it will enable EREA to build a sustainable and thriving future in the spirit of collaboration and commitment to the Mission of Edmund Rice.”


For more information about Edmund Rice Education Australia, its new governance structure, and subsidiary companies, please visit


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