New appointment for fearless advocate

Chair of Catholic Social Services Australia (CSSA), Dr Maria Harries AM, has announced the appointment of Fr Frank Brennan sj AO as Chief Executive Officer of the peak national body for social services in Australia. CSSA represents a national network of 53 Catholic social service providers.

“Fr Frank Brennan sj AO is one of Australia’s leading advocates for justice and equity. His record on speaking out on behalf of people who have been ignored and disregarded in our community is unparalleled,” said Dr Harries.

“From his earliest involvement in civil rights movements in Queensland, his work towards reconciliation with Indigenous communities in Redfern in 1975 through to the institution of the Native Title Act in 1993, his tireless advocacy on behalf of refugees and asylum seekers, and his contribution to the development of the Constitution for the people of Timor Leste among many other public achievements, Fr Brennan has held Australia to a consistent standard of upholding the rights, dignity and respect of all people, especially those most marginalised.”

Professor Brennan has held significant roles in academia, public policy and advocacy, including

Professor of Law at Australian Catholic University, Adjunct Professor at the ANU College of Law and National Centre for Indigenous Studies, Founding director of Uniya, the Australian Jesuit Social Justice Centre, Rapporteur at the Australian Reconciliation Convention, Ambassador for Reconciliation by the Council for Aboriginal Reconciliation and Chairperson to the Australian Government's National Human Rights Consultation Committee.

Fr Brennan studied at the University of Queensland where he graduated with honours in arts and law. He then graduated from the Melbourne College of Divinity with honours in divinity. He was awarded a Master of Laws by the University of Melbourne. Fr Brennan was later awarded, honoris causa, a Doctor of the University from the Queensland University of Technology and a Doctor of Laws from the University of New South Wales.

Fr Brennan is an Officer of the Order of Australia (AO) for services to Aboriginal Australians, particularly as an advocate in the areas of law, social justice and reconciliation. While Director of the Jesuit Refugee Service in East Timor, he was awarded the Humanitarian Overseas Service Medal and the Australian Centenary Medal for his service with refugees and human rights work in the Asia Pacific Region. During the 1998 Wik debate, Prime Minister Paul Keating christened him ‘the meddling priest’. The National Trust has classified him as a Living National Treasure.

As Director of CatholicCare Social Services in the Hunter and Manning regions, I am delighted that a man of the calibre of Fr Frank Brennan will be CEO of our national body. He brings so much ‘to the table’ and I look forward to engaging with him.

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Helga Smit Image
Helga Smit

Helga Smit is the Director of CatholicCare Social Services Hunter-Manning. Helga is an authority on disability services, Indigenous issues and other social services.

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