2013 / Bernie Geary OAM


Children’s Commissioner to deliver Oration
16 May 2013

PRINCIPAL Commissioner for Children and Young People, Mr Bernie Geary OAM, will deliver this year’s Kerferd Oration at Beechworth in July 2013.

Mr Geary’s oration will link with a research project in Beechworth investigating how young people make a life for themselves after school and their need to make meaningful connections in their community.

Chairperson of the Kerferd Oration committee Joan Simms said today the Oration committee, now a sub group of the Beechworth Neighbourhood Centre, was delighted to turn the focus of the Oration to young people.

“After the focus on history last year looking at Australia’s first Australian-born Governor-General Sir Isaac Isaacs and his connections with Indigo Shire, it is wonderful to have this opportunity to look at young people and ways we can engage them in our communities,” Ms Simms said. “They are our future and we need to support them.”

“Bernie Geary has a wealth of life experience and work experience working with young people, in various ways, and his insights and wisdom will no doubt help all of us come to a greater understanding of the issues young people face today as they make that transition from school to community and workforce.”

Mr Geary commenced as the Principal Commissioner, Commission for Children and Young People, on 1 March 2013.

The new Commission has wide-ranging powers and responsibilities including the capacity to initiate inquiries where it believes there have been issues in the delivery of services that affect children and young people. The Commission has been legislated to be independent of the Victorian Government and reports to Parliament.

Mr Geary received the Order of Australia in 2002 for services to young people, a Centenary Medal in 2000, and has an honorary Masters Degree in Social Work. In June 2010, he received an honorary award of Doctor of the University (Honoris Causa) Australian Catholic University.

Mr Geary began his career as Victoria’s first outreach youth worker in West Heidelberg, and managed the Brosnan Centre prior to becoming the CEO of Jesuit Social Services. He also served on the Victorian Youth Parole Board (1988-2005), was a member of the Premier’s Drug Advisory Council in 1999 and 2001, the Victorian Sentencing Advisory Council (2005-2008) and the Victorian Children’s Council (2005-2013).

Since 2005, as Victoria’s inaugural Child Safety Commissioner, Mr Geary has worked hard to enhance the safety and wellbeing of Victoria’s children. During this time he has contributed to broad policy reform relevant to children’s wellbeing as well as service improvement for children exposed to Child Protection, in particular those living in out-of-home care. He established the Community Integration Program designed to support vulnerable children being better connected to the community, and the Independent Visitor Program for young people detained in youth custody.

Mr Geary and his wife Therese have five children and nine grandchildren.

The 2013 Kerferd Oration will be held at 11am, Sunday 28 July, at the Baarmutha Park Function Centre in Beechworth.