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May 2016



A message from our Group CEO, Toby Hall


Hi everyone

In talking to staff around Australia many express to me the inspiration they feel from the mission of St Vincent’s Health Australia, from their colleagues and from our history as an organisation. This newsletter heralds a new format telling an old story of inspiration.

Many of you will remember the phrase ‘Caritas Christi Urget Nos’ - this is the motto of the Sisters of Charity. It translates to English in many ways but one of the translations is ‘The Love of Christ inspires us’. In talking to staff this resonates with many of our team, so we have chosen to call the newsletter Inspire and it will tell stories from around our organisation of care shown by teams, by individual staff members and by patients. The goal of this is to inspire our colleagues through stories of success and healing but also to hear stories of when care hasn’t gone how we hoped or thought it would.

One of our team members who has inspired me recently is Melanie Hill, a graduate midwife from St Vincent’s Private Hospital Melbourne. Last year, Melanie spent six months working in South Sudan to help mothers in one of the toughest communities in the world give birth safely and successfully. She loved it so much that she is going back again this year to spend time acting as a midwife in a community many of us would be too scared to walk into. Melanie has understood deeply the meaning of the healing ministry of Jesus and is taking her skill and training to Sudan because she has been inspired to care. And because we were so inspired by her story we are supporting the health service she is working with through a donation of $50,000 dollars to help them deliver even better health outcomes.

What inspires you?

God Bless

Over the coming months you will have an opportunity to become more closely involved in sharing how you are Inspired to Care in the work that you do, your unique perspective into what it means to you, your team and your facility as well as learning how our patients are often inspired by the care we provide them. Watch this space to learn more.

Spotlight on St Vincent's Hospital Melbourne

Imagine a hub fusing ground breaking research, technology and solutions, all designed with the patient in mind – an epicentre for medical discovery and education and training – a place where patient hope comes to life ...

The Aikenhead Centre for Medical Discovery (ACMD) is a research hub which will be located on the most prominent corner of the St Vincent’s Hospital Melbourne (SVHM) site. The Centre will be a first for Australian hospitals researching areas including medical devices for orthopaedics, implantable materials for neurosciences, and organ and tissue regeneration for diabetes.

The ACMD will combine the expertise of national and global leaders in health, medical research and education including St Vincent’s Hospital Melbourne, University of Melbourne, St Vincent’s Institute, Bionics Institute, Australian Catholic University, RMIT, Swinburne and Centre for Eye Research Australia.

Professor Tom Kay who was recently appointed inaugural Director of ACMD said: “This is an exciting opportunity for clinicians, researchers and engineers to collaborate with each other and with industry to develop solutions for patients.”

SVHM has State Government and partner support pledged and is awaiting a decision on Federal Government funding.

ACMD Fast facts

  • Construction jobs created > 10,000
  • $550 million in savings on health care costs over 10 years
  • Extending Australian’s working life by up to 5 years
  • $2.8 billion economic benefits over 10 years

The proposed Aikenhead Centre for Medical Discovery.

How are you inspired?


SVHA employee profile

Stephen Tippett is Catering Manager Patient Food Services at St Vincent’s Hospital Melbourne. In 2015 he won the highest accolade in the SVHA Innovation & Excellence Awards with his wonderful ‘Food for the soul’ initiative and was named Catholic Health Australia’s ‘Emerging Leader’. In our first e-news employee profile, we asked Stephen 5 quick questions. 

1. What inspires you most about your work?

The ability to positively impact the patient’s stay with us and the gratitude received from patients and relatives during times of immense personal stress. Food Services is one of the few services that patients interact with many times per day and one of the few things that a patient may look forward to during their stay. Some of the great opportunities we have had to show patients we genuinely care is by providing fortified, moulded and shaped texture modified food; making a patient’s favorite meal before major mouth surgery preventing them from eating again and redeveloping our entire menu with input from consumers to ensure popular and culturally and linguistically diverse meals are provided.

2. What might someone be surprised to know about you?

When I was 8, I found a detonator (not knowing what it was) in a vacant block near my house. I then thought I would try a science experiment with it and it blew up in my face. I subsequently removed a fair portion of my foot requiring skin grafts, required stitches in my eye, created a hole in the concrete slab and shrapnel all through my bedroom. I spent 2 months in the Royal Children’s Hospital for treatment and even made the Channel Nine News.

3. What do you do when you aren’t working?

One of my passions is road cycling. I love riding hills and have competed twice in the 3 Peaks Falls Creek challenge obtaining my goal of a sub-10 hour time last year. I find cycling a wonderful way to stay fit, reduce stress and zone out after a hard day’s work. My greatest passion however is being a Dad to my daughter Charlie. She is 21 months old and brings so much joy and laughter to our house. There is simply no greater gift than that of being a parent.

4. If you could invite any 5 people in the world to dinner (living or not), who would they be and what would you cook?

I’d need to invite 6. My wife and I have both had 1 of our brothers pass away and so I would love to have them back at my table with our parents. I would cook a Tapas selection as it is such a great communal and social way to eat food.

5. What super power do you wish you had and how would you use it?

Shape shifting – Who wouldn’t want to be able to do this? Want to fly? Shift into a bird. Want to breathe underwater? Fish. Turn invisible? Fly on the wall. Shape shifting can make you bigger, smaller, better, stronger, faster – it's amazing. Of course it would only be used for good!

And one final question that everyone wants to ask …

6. Can hospital food ever taste good?

Yes and it does! In reality most hospital food is cooked with the same techniques as hotel banquet food however there are many challenges relating to food safety, clinical requirements and ordering processes which impacts the food served. We are a lot more flexible than people realise and really want the best for our patients. If in doubt ask us. We are always reviewing our practices and there are some great new models of Food Service emerging in the industry.


Launch of our new RAP

SVHA launched its new Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) at St Vincent’s Hospital Sydney in March marking the next significant step in our journey of reconciliation. RAP launch events are planned in Queensland and Melbourne later this year.

SVHA first developed a RAP in 2010 in response to our organisation’s desire to formally begin a journey of reconciliation with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. Our new RAP aims to consolidate what we’ve learned these past six years – to establish a more nationally consistent approach – and provides us with a springboard for a new set of targets and goals.

Speaking at the launch, SVHA Group CEO Toby Hall said: “We have worked alongside Aboriginal and Torres Islander communities for many years where our facilities have been established. This RAP is about striving for something greater taking us on the next step in the journey of reconciliation.”

“My vision is that every staff member across our organisation – whether they be involved in direct service delivery or in back room administration – understands that we each have a role to play in contributing to reconciliation.”


[from left] Nathan Taylor, Aboriginal Health Worker, SVHS, Aunty Fay Carroll, an Elder from the local community of Woolloomooloo and Pauline Deweerd, Director Aboriginal Health, St Vincent’s Health Network Sydney.

Inspired to serve

In line with our enVision2025 strategy, SVHA has made an organisational commitment to the on-going Formation for All staff in mission. This commitment considers not only what staff need to understand about mission and our founding story, but also what processes will enliven mission in the context of their day to day work.

Our Group Leader Mission, Jack de Groot, describes Formation as a process of engaging the head, heart and hands of SVHA staff to find meaning in what they do and how they serve in the spirit of Mary Aikenhead.

“This is a program that acknowledges and respects that every staff member comes to SVHA with their own story, experience and strengths,” Jack said.

As a first step in providing Formation for All, earlier this year we launched a national approach to orientating new staff to the mission. Each facility now has a dedicated hour for orientation to the mission. A high quality short film has been produced called We are St Vincent’s to assist new people coming into the organisation understand what it looks and feels like to be Inspired to Serve and care for others in any SVHA facility. It also focuses on the important message in our enVision2025 strategy of Seeing, Serving and Striving for something greater. Formation for All strategy will be implemented for all SVHA employees in 2016-2017.


Standing on the shoulders of giants

Some of the giants in the field of addiction medicine who have worked closely with the Sisters of Charity and St Vincent’s took part in SVHA’s first Alcohol Related Harm and Violence Forum recently in Sydney.

SVHA is committed to serving, through advocacy and treatment, those affected by alcohol related harm. The Forum helped identify some of key challenges for the future in our advocacy work and innovative service delivery. One of these is strengthening our research and data collection through such projects as ‘Driving Change: Using Emergency Department Data to Reduce Alcohol Related Harm’ - presented to the forum by Professor Peter Miller from Deakin University. This will inform our advocacy voice but we also need to promote a new language for telling the realities of alcohol related harm and look to the larger environmental and societal education.

Professor James Rankin who started the first addiction medicine service in the 1950s at St Vincent’s Hospital Melbourne outlined a fascinating account of his work over the decades.

SVHA’s Mission & Social Justice Development Manager, John Willis said: “The passion and commitment to the treatment of those with addictions as well as those who have suffered violence as a result of alcohol was extraordinary to experience. Clearly our strength has been collaboration over many years but that needs to be an ongoing goal to ensure our model of care is focused on restoring and accompanying the most vulnerable people not only with a clinical response but also with a strong public health mindset that focuses on earlier presentation and treatment.”

Alcohol Advocacy update

SVHA continues to articulate our ongoing public stance on alcohol related violence through our Senate enquiry submission and NSW liquor enquiry submissions.

In his response to the 2016 federal budget in May, SVHA Group CEO Toby Hall said: “As an organisation that sees the extreme levels of damage that alcohol causes in our hospitals every day – not just in terms of accidents and injuries, but in terms of chronic disease and illness – we welcome the budget’s extra funding to combat Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD), with a particular focus on rural and remote Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

“We urge the Commonwealth to take a similar leadership role in other areas of responsibility around alcohol, including taxation and advertising and promotion.”


[from left] Professor Peter Miller, School of Psychology Deakin University, Michael Thorn, CEO Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education and Amy Ferguson, Director Policy and Research, Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education.

Have your say in just 10 minutes


There’s still time to take the SVHA Staff Engagement Survey now open until Friday 3 June. We are seeking feedback on your current perception of SVHA, to understand what is working well and where we can improve as a place to work.

The survey will only take about 10 minutes of your time. Your survey responses will be completely confidential; no individual feedback will be revealed. Once the results of the survey have been received, the results will be shared and you will have an opportunity to be involved in action planning with your individual managers. To take the survey, you need your personal access code which was sent to you from our survey partners, Gallup.

Some of our facilities have been very creative with their staff engagement campaigns. Big shout out to Sydney Public who’ve produced a range of material featuring some of their well known senior executives and the very clever tagline ‘You’re the voice’.


Anthony Schembri, CEO St Vincent’s Health Network Sydney helps promote staff engagement.

Still time to enter our awards


It’s time to finalise your entry in this year’s Innovation & Excellence Awards …but hurry, entries close on Friday 10 June. These hotly contested annual awards shine a light on some of the fantastic work we do across the organisation and celebrate our successes. Finalists this year will be invited to a gorgeous gala dinner at the Sofitel Hotel in Brisbane.


When is the closing date for entries?

Friday 10 June 2016

Who can enter?

The awards are open to all staff across our facilities and services – individuals and teams.

What is the theme for this year’s awards?

‘Seeing something greater’ which reflects SVHA’s exciting and ambitious enVision 2025 strategy.

How do I enter?

Everything you need to enter including the Awards Guide Book and entry template is available via the Awards online portal:

What are the judges looking for?

The judging panel will be looking for submissions that clearly and strongly demonstrate alignment with our strategic vision of ‘Serving, seeing and striving for something greater’ and our mission.

Where can I find out more information?

Look on the awards online portal or contact the Awards Manager, Janelle Fisk


New CEO for Toowoomba


Kathryn McKeefry has joined SVHA as CEO, St Vincent’s Private Hospital Toowoomba. Kathryn was previously the General Manager/Director of Nursing at Waratah Private Hospital in Hurstville, Sydney.

Kathryn is an accomplished hospital leader having achieved a significant turnaround in Waratah Private’s clinical and operational performance as well as a hospital development that resulted in additional theatres and beds. Kathryn is very familiar with Queensland having worked for several years at both the Wesley Private Hospital in Brisbane and at Greenslopes Private. Ms McKeefry is very familiar with Queensland having worked for several years at both the Wesley Private Hospital in Brisbane and at Greenslopes Private She is originally from New Zealand and is a registered nurse and midwife.

A pilgrim's tale

Rob Beetson, our Group General Manager Corporate Governance, agreed to share his recent pilgrimage experience.

In April, 25 pilgrims from Mary Aikenhead Ministries were fortunate enough to visit Ireland and experience the history of the Sisters of Charity and their foundress Mary Aikenhead. The 10-day pilgrimage allowed us to experience the charism of the Sisters of Charity in its birth place and be reinvigorated and re-inspired by the ongoing work of the Sisters. Eleven pilgrims represented SVHA, the Health Ministry of Mary Aikenhead Ministries. Representatives also attended from the Congregation and the Education Ministry.

The pilgrimage took in Dublin, Cork, Galway, Knock and Glendalough and at each turn we were warmly welcomed and hosted by the Irish Congregation of the Sisters of Charity. It was evident that the charism of Mary Aikenhead and the Sisters was still alive and thriving as we heard stories of how the Sisters continue to walk with and work for the poor and the disadvantaged not only in Ireland but places as diverse as Africa, Los Angeles and Venezuela. Pilgrims were also supported by 21st century technology through an App on our iPads and iPhones that provided accompaniment through the places of historical importance in the life of Mary Aikenhead in Dublin and Cork.

The pilgrimage was an important reminder for all of us to take time out to reflect on the greater calling and opportunities that working at St Vincent’s Health Australia affords us. With our busy working lives it served as a gentle reminder that we are here to serve first and foremost and to ensure we see each and every person we encounter through God’s eyes.


Rob Beetson [front row, second from left] with the Mary Aikenhead Ministries pilgrims in Ireland.

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

Under the stewardship of Mary Aikenhead Ministries

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