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December 2016



SVHA Newsletter

A message from our Group CEO, Toby Hall


Inspired to Serve

In our St Vincent’s health care tradition ‘to serve others’ is core to who we are. To ‘serve’ requires unconditional love and a commitment to the people who come to us for care which goes beyond our work being ‘just a job’. 

From the time the Sisters of Charity arrived in Australia more than 175 years ago, we have been called to serve something greater than ourselves as we bring God’s love to those who need it most. 

Most of us in the St Vincent’s family have a really good understanding of our Mission, in fact, we’ve heard from you that this is the number one reason employees join SVHA. Sometimes we associate that only with what happened in the past when the sisters ran the hospitals or were with us in greater numbers. The truth is Mission is a part of everything we do on a daily basis and we’ve been entrusted to grow it, in new ways, for the future. 

To do this, we have put in place our Mission formation strategy, ‘Inspired to Serve’. At SVHA, Mission formation is an opportunity to reflect and develop a deeper understanding of our Mission within our daily work. It acknowledges and respects that people come to SVHA with their own story, skills and expertise and from many diverse backgrounds and life experiences. The Mission leaders have put together some great sessions which are interactive, reflective and require the engagement of your head, hands and heart too. 

The program is currently being rolled out across the organisation - so some of you may have already participated. Your manager will work with you to meet the core requirements which include a full-day ‘Inspired to Serve’ workshop for all employees every three years. You can also speak to your manager if you would like further details about SVHA Mission Formation.

In the meantime, thank you for all you do for our patients and our residents each day. If you are looking for some immediate inspiration, watch this video clip of Sr Maryanne Confoy who never leaves us in any doubt of the special role we each play in keeping the Mission alive, no matter where we fit within the organisation. 

Click on the link below to watch a short video of Sr Maryanne Confoy:



Lisa McDonald, Group Mission Leader

I remember when I first started in a Mission role within St Vincent’s Health Australia, as the Mission Integration Manager of the Darlinghurst campus, my then 5-year-old son asked me, “Mum, what do you do for work?” I told him the title of my role, he thought about it for a moment, leaned in and whispered…. “Are you a spy?” 

He’s now 12, realises I am not a spy, but like many people is curious about what Mission means in a big health and aged care organisation. If you are looking for a quick, verbatim answer, then the Mission statement is fantastic: ‘We bring God’s love to those in need through the healing ministry of Jesus. We are especially committed to people who are poor and vulnerable.’ If you are wondering what that means then you are not alone. Our Mission can be described in hundreds of ways, all of which can find a home in that statement. Here is a short list of only some of them:

  • Compassion in action
  • Reaching out to those on the margins
  • Exceptional care
  • Looking after the ‘whole person’; including their spiritual, emotional, physical and intellectual needs
  • Going above and beyond
  • Knowing that your work has greater meaning
  • Living the values
  • Recognising every person’s inherent dignity
  • Being resilient in the hard times
  • Seeing the world with hope

If any of these resonates with you, then you are in the right place. Our patients and our residents, all who come to us for care, will be safe in our hands. I look forward to working with you to acknowledge this beautiful Mission of ours is alive in our midst and to take it into the future to further flourish and grow.


Spotlight on St Vincent’s Care Services

Serving our ageing population

As our ageing population continues to grow, St Vincent’s Care Services (SVCS) is answering the call to deliver high quality aged care and retirement residential facilities as well as tailored care and support services to more Australians. 

In 2016, SVCS completed a number of expansion projects, including the acquisition of existing facilities in Toowoomba and Arundel in Queensland, as well as major extension and refurbishment works at Eltham, Victoria, Mitchelton (QLD) and Southport (QLD). These projects have seen SVCS increase its capacity by more than 200 aged care places, and we are excited to continue our legacy of care in these communities. We have also increased our reach in the community care marketplace, providing more support services for seniors living in their own homes.

In October, SVCS opened the doors of our first brand new facility in 25 years – St Vincent’s Care Services Bronte. Taking advantage of its inner Sydney location, Bronte has been designed to offer its 106 residents luxury accommodation and hospitality services, with a particular focus on lifestyle. We believe that Bronte sets the benchmark for not-for-profit aged care providers who seek to strike the balance between meeting the demand in the marketplace for five-star accommodation and services, while still delivering exceptional aged care and support for all residents. 

On 30 October, more than 300 locals and potential residents attended a community open day at Bronte, giving visitors a sneak peek of this magnificent facility. During a visit to the site on 9 November, the SVHA Board officially welcomed our first resident. We look forward to welcoming more residents to this beautiful and unique community in the coming months. 

In early 2017 we will open two more new facilities – Maroochydore on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast and Werribee, co-located with St Vincent’s Private Hospital Werribee in Victoria. As we are faced with an ever-changing industry and increasing competition from private and not-for-profit residential aged care and independent living operators, as well as sweeping changes to home and community care, the need to establish our presence in the market in a sustainable manner has become more evident. In the most recent Aged Care Approvals Round, SVCS lodged submissions for a total of 514 new residential aged care beds, at Baulkham Hills, Tahmoor and Balmain (NSW), Eltham (VIC) and Tarragindi (QLD).

Development projects such as these help St Vincent’s Care Services to increase our visibility and reputation in this highly competitive market, and most importantly, allow us to continue and expand our Mission in providing exceptional care and support for those in need. 


Our beautiful new aged care facility, St Vincent’s Care Services Bronte.


How are you inspired?


After serving as Director of Human Resources for St Vincent’s Care Services for almost 10 years, Esme Strydom embarked on a new challenge in July by taking on the role of Director of Mission, based at SVCS’ head office in Bowen Hills, Brisbane. With her experience in working closely with staff and management in human resources, Esme brings a unique perspective as leader of the Mission team. We asked Esme what inspires her in her new role. 

What inspires you most about your work?
People. Their stories, each person’s uniqueness and the idea of what we can achieve if we work together. It inspires me to come to work with an expectation every day.

What might someone be surprised to know about you?
I am a Bowen Therapist, which is a holistic and multidimensional approach to pain relief and healing. I feel so privileged when I can be part of a person's healing journey.

What do you do when you aren’t working?
Much of my spare time is spent with my husband and family. I have become a grandma in the past few months, and whenever I can, I love to spend time with the baby. I enjoy the outdoors and we often go camping right next to the beach or up in the hinterlands where we enjoy nature and “God’s gardens.”

If you could invite any 5 people in the world to dinner (living or not), who would they be and what would, you cook?
My mum and dad, the Pope, Steven Covey (author of 7 Habits of Highly Effective People) and Viktor Frankl (Austrian neurologist, psychiatrist and Holocaust survivor)… it might be better if I take them out for dinner!

What super power do you wish you had and how would you use it?
A humanitarian influence - to end poverty and war and replace it with enough love for all.

What is your vision for the future of Mission at St Vincent’s Care Services?
My vision is an integration of our Mission and the charism of Jesus and Mary Aikenhead into all our services and workplaces.  

First Reconciliation Forum

SVHA held its first Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Forum in October in Brisbane. Entitled Reconciliation – the Journey, the Forum brought together our team of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander employees and leaders to share experiences with colleagues, empower staff by developing strategies to address Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander career development and to enhance staff awareness of SVHA’s commitment to Aboriginal health.

Feedback on the Forum was very positive. Here’s what some participants had to say: 
“It was an awesome opportunity to meet my fellow Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander staff, especially those from interstate. I think it’s a true reflection of SVHA’s dedication to improving Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander outcomes, not only in health but other areas such as employment and strengthening employee relationships across all the different hospitals.”
Kendra Keleher, Aboriginal Health Care Coordinator, St Vincent’s Hospital Melbourne

"The forum was incredible. There are many great things ahead for indigenous health within SVHA."
Rajiv Muthunesan, Registered Nurse, St Vincent’s Hospital Sydney

“At the forum, I have witnessed the commitment, acknowledgement and respect for cultures, history and spirituality regardless of background. Let’s continue our vision for reconciliation at SVHA as a community where Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and other Australians work together in a spirit of trust and openness to bring about hope, love, justice and peace in our world.”  
Esme Strydom, Director Mission, St Vincent’s Care Services


[from left] Lani Blanco-Francis, Linda Wapua, John Willis and Renee Williams at SVHA’s first Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Forum .


Nathan Taylor and Victoria Kennedy .



‘Just a nurse’ goes viral


After being labelled ‘just a nurse’, St Vincent’s Private Hospital Nurse Caitlin Brassington posted a brilliant retort on her personal Facebook page.  Caitlin’s ‘just a nurse’ post went viral worldwide with massive social media coverage including New York Times, Yahoo, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal and Daily Mail as well as TV, print and radio. 

Caitlin also received hundreds of messages through Facebook including:

  • CEO of the Michigan Children’s Hospital who said he was so glad to see someone promoting nursing.
  • CEO of St George’s Hospital in Sydney who said he had asked for her post to be printed and placed on all staff noticeboards.
  • Chief Nursing and Midwifery Officer, Queensland Health, Shelley Nowlan wrote a response for the department's’ website as well as meeting with Caitlin.

To read Caitlin’s post go to: Just a nurse



Accolades for our staff

There are so many inspiring stories of the great work our people do every day across the organisation and in the communities we serve. Recently, some of our staff have received wider recognition for their work. Congratulations to all – we’re very proud of you.   

Mental health

The St Vincent’s Health Network Sydney Psychogeriatric SOS (services on screen) team has received two major health awards and an SVHA award for their innovative e-health model of outreach services for rural Australians. 

The team won the 2016 Mental Health Matters Award for Excellence in Service Delivery and also took out the prestigious Minister's Award at the 2016 NSW Health Awards which recognises excellence in the provision of mental health services, and is awarded at the discretion of the NSW Minister for Health, the Hon. Pru Goward.  In addition, the team won the 2016 SVHA Innovation & Excellence Award in the category of Clinical Innovation. 

Congratulations to the team of A/Prof David Burke, Dr Jacqueline Huber, Dr Louisa Norrie,  Jennifer Kelly, Claudia Woolf, Elizabeth Love, Danielle Gately and Ngaire Buchanan.


Philippa Tesselaar, a plastics/reconstruction nurse at St Vincent’s Private Hospital Melbourne received the inaugural Children First Foundation Humanitarian Award. The award gave Philippa the opportunity to travel to the Philippines with a surgical service team treating children with plastics, clefts and burns.  

Quality improvement

Our Environmental Services team at St Vincent’s Hospital Sydney was ‘Highly Commended’ in The Australian Council on Healthcare Standards (ACHS) 2016 Quality Improvement Awards.  The hospital received the accolade for its submission in the Non-Clinical Service Delivery category - Clean, Reliable, Trustworthy, Proven, Sustained Excellence in Patient and Resident Care - the Environmental Cleaning Review and NSW Blood and Bone Marrow Transplant Cleaning Project.

The annual awards acknowledge and encourage outstanding quality improvement activities, programs or strategies that have been implemented in health care organisations. This year, almost 100 high quality Australian and international submissions were received.

Well done to the team of Rob Gordon, Emily Heinnen, Joanna Uribe, Kirsten Bruchhauser, Kylie Naudi, Michelle Wilson, Giulietta Pontivivo and Brett Gardiner.


[from left] Irene Kourtis, former CEO Children First, SVPHM Nurse Philippa Tesselaar and Di Gillies, Interplast Coordinator.




David Swan recently started as CEO of St Vincent’s Private Hospitals Division. We asked David about his vision for our private hospitals and what inspires him as a leader.   

What have been your early impressions of St Vincent’s Health Australia?

I have been very impressed with the positive culture and strong commitment to the Mission and values of SVHA by everyone I have met at all health facilities.  There is a strong commitment to “be the best”. There is also a transparent commitment to the quality and safety of our services to our patients and everyone is striving to ensure that the patient is central to the care they provide.

The focus of education and ongoing development of our staff has been evident throughout SVHA and a desire to ensure we have the best skilled and trained staff.

I have appreciated the clear direction that our enVision2025 strategy provides to guide us. This direction has been well understood throughout SVHA.

What inspires you as a leader and how would you describe your leadership style?

I am inspired by the opportunity we have to enhance the role SVHA has in excellent health care for our patients. I am motivated by the commitment our staff have in the way they are tirelessly improving on how we care for patients. My leadership style is about providing clear direction that inspires and motivates people to be the best they can be. 

What is your vision for our Private Hospitals?

I am keen to build - through our Mission and values - on the excellent reputation that SVHA has. My vision is that we are known and respected as the best Private Hospital group in Australia through our focus on excellent quality and safety and achieving outcomes for our patients that are unmatched. I will ensure that our hospitals embrace the use of contemporary medical technology and clinical practices that are at the forefront of clinical innovation and outcomes for our patients.

Importantly, I want to provide an environment for our staff to maximise their expertise through ongoing education and development together with translation of research into clinical practice. My aim is that our Private Hospitals are an employer of choice for staff.

I’ll be looking at opportunities for the Private Hospitals Division to grow through our hospital and service developments and explore new opportunities that may be appropriate in line with the broader strategic direction of SVHA.

If team members asked you “how can I best contribute to the Vision” what would you tell them?

We all need to embrace the Vision of SHVA if it is to be successful. As the Vision provides the foundation for our strategic direction, I would encourage each team member to find areas of the strategic direction that they can contribute to. In the end the Vision is about how we make SVHA greater and in turn improve what we can provide our patients. 

How do you maintain your own and your team’s daily motivation and inspiration despite obstacles or setbacks?

Just remind them as to why we are here and why our work and compassion is so important for the people we care for. We are truly privileged to be able to care and support our patients at a time in their lives where they feel not in control or feel vulnerable.

Even though some days do not always go as planned, the rewards through care and support to our patients and how this is appreciated is our inspiration and why we need to show resolve in the face of obstacles.

What may someone be surprised to know about you?

I am a passionate home cook. I thoroughly enjoy the planning of a lunch or dinner for my family or friends. This involves a lot of researching and browsing through my many cook books and notes. (Despite my many repeated requests, my wife Suanne refuses to purchase me any more cook books!) 

I love to go to the markets on a Saturday morning and shop for fresh ingredients then head back to the kitchen which becomes my “weekend office”. There is something very rewarding in the preparing of a meal and then spending a relaxing afternoon or evening sharing the food with the people who mean so much to you. 

I like cooking all cuisines but if I had to pick one as my favourite it would be French - might have something to do with the desserts!

Our new Style Guidelines … your one-stop ‘brand shop’

The new SVHA Style Guidelines to support our new brand ‘Inspired by You’ and accompanying toolkit of templates, logos and images are now available equipping you to tell the St Vincent’s story. 

How will the Guidelines be used?
The Guidelines will support members of staff and partners across SVHA facilities and services in the development of printed, online or electronic materials. 

What do they include?

  • comprehensive outlines for the application of logos, images and colours
  • stationery templates (e.g. letterheads, business cards, envelopes)
  • marketing materials and collateral (e.g. folders, newsletters, posters, report covers), and
  • digital guidelines and collateral (e.g. social media and web design, email signatures, PowerPoint templates, email templates).

Where can they be found?
A range of brand resources are available on the SVHA intranet:

Need support?


Annual Report out now

The St Vincent’s Health Australia 2015-16 Annual Report has been published highlighting the many ways we are inspired every day in serving, seeing and striving for something greater.  

As you know, the enVision2025 strategy is the roadmap for how SVHA delivers on our Mission. The report captures our progress against the goals and priorities of the strategy in the four key areas of our Public Hospitals Division, Private Hospitals Division, Aged Care and Research. 

Alcohol-related harm is a serious health and social issue in Australia and reducing its impact on individuals and the community is one of our key advocacy platforms. For this reason we also sent a copy of Restoring the Balance, SVHA’s Alcohol-Related Harm and Violence Policy launched earlier this year to our key stakeholders along with the report.  

This year for the first time, we have also produced a digital summary of the Annual Report offering easy, online, interactive viewing.


Final mass in hospital chapel

A final mass was held in the chapel of St Vincent’s Private Hospital Toowoomba on 17 November, attended by past and current staff and members of the local community. 

As part of the hospital’s $30 million theatre redevelopment the chapel will become the hospital’s cafe with the blessing of the Sisters of Charity. A new chapel will be built on the site during the theatre project. 

The hospital’s Mission Director Darlene Dreise said: “The chapel is a special place of memories, history and long-held affection. 

“This is a significant milestone for the hospital and while we farewell the chapel we are excited about our future. The Clive Berghofer Operating Theatre Suite will bring a new era of health care and means we are growing with our burgeoning community,” she said. 

The St Vincent’s chapel was built in 1960 to a design based on the early Christian ‘fish’ symbol. It was described at the time as being ‘strikingly modern’.


Bishop Robert McGuckin celebrated the final mass in the chapel at St Vincent’s Private Hospital Toowoomba.

We bring God’s love to those in need through the healing ministry of Jesus.

Under the stewardship of Mary Aikenhead Ministries

This website may contain images of deceased members of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community.
They are used with the greatest respect and appreciation.

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