The EREA Charter Leadership Awards were presented at the Annual EREA Principals’ Mass held in Melbourne on Saturday, November 26, 2016

Through the annual presentation of these awards, Edmund Rice Education Australia seeks to recognise the outstanding contribution of men and women in the service of their school communities in support of the vision and mission of EREA. By directly linking these awards to the Charter, we celebrate the many diverse ways that the four Touchstones are brought to life as a powerful expression of the charism of Edmund Rice alive today. In addition, the awards recognise the significant leadership role of men and women in our schools and the impact that their leadership has on the lives of others.

The selection panel, comprising representatives from the LERNS Executive, EREA Leadership Team, EREA Board and a school Board Chair, selected four winners from 23 nominations received in 2016.

Br Matt McKeon (St Edmund’s College, Canberra): Charter Leadership Award for Gospel Spirituality

Annalee McKew (St Joseph’s College, Geelong): Charter Leadership Award for Liberating Education

Rick Russo (St Pius X College, Chatswood): Charter Leadership Award for Inclusive Community

Judith Hurley (Edmund Rice College, Wollongong): Charter Leadership Award for Justice and Solidarity

Br Matt is described by his principal as exemplifying every aspect of the Edmund Rice ethos and a wonderful example of what it is to live with Christ-like qualities, continually serving those with whom he comes into contact in his daily ministry at the College. After a long career of service in various roles in Christian Brothers’ schools, including as principal in four schools, Br Matt continues to lend his faithful presence and talents supporting the faith life of staff and students at St Edmund’s. 

Annalee is acknowledged for her commitment to providing her students with rich learning experiences that are authentic, relevant, dynamic and creative. The driving force behind St Joseph’s College sustained preparation for the commemoration of Anzac Day, Annalee has demonstrated the essence of Liberating Education, inspiring students to open their hearts and minds, in this case, to the sacrifice of our war veterans.

As school counsellor, Rick has been at the centre of St Pius X College’s response to critical incidents through support for students affected and their families, but also in the development of programs and initiatives to engage students and to empower them to care for each other. Rick is acknowledged by his principal for his care for the students and his enduring passion to help them to live meaningful lives; as an inspirational leader with a unique ability to build self-belief and confidence, supporting the community to thrive and flourish.

Judith’s contribution to Edmund Rice College over 16 years has been characterised by her commitment to inspiring and encouraging others to be advocates for a better world, as her principal describes, “building capacity in others to do what they never imagined they could do.” One of the original pioneers of EREA for Change, Judith is also a founding member of the EREBB Advocacy focus group and balances these passions with promoting various advocacy initiatives within the College and the development of the senior retreat program based on the theme of ‘becoming a man for others’.

The contributions made by these remarkable people in their communities was celebrated with due ceremony and great joy. Each award winner received a trophy and a monetary contribution towards their continuing personal and professional development.


From left: Rick Russo, Judith Hurley, Br Matt McKeon and Annalee McKew

Executive Director’s Special Award 2016

In 2016, Dr Wayne Tinsey chose to present an Executive Director’s Special Award in conjunction with the existing Charter Leadership Awards. In presenting this award to Mr Chris Straford, Assistant Director of Faith and Mission at St Kevin’s College, Dr Tinsey described Chris as someone “whose life and ministry in education embody the essence of our Gospel and the highest aspirations of the Charter for Catholic education in the Edmund Rice tradition”. 

A man of great faith, Chris has shared his deep theological knowledge with the St Kevin’s community for the growth and support of all. Held in high regard as an inspirational teacher and role model to young people, Chris has demonstrated a genuine understanding of his students’ world and the very physical nature of adolescent spirituality. Described as having “a great heart for God’s poor”, part of his commitment to the next generation has been facilitating encounters for his students with the marginalised, both locally and globally. Leading a group to Brazil for World Youth Day in 2013, Chris saw it as vitally important they had some experience of the poor favelas, as well as the beaches. Engaging the young people and encouraging their questions, Chris has opened their eyes, the very essence of the Touchstone, Liberating Education. 

Sadly, we received word from St Kevin’s College at the start of the school year that Chris had lost his battle with cancer. 

Two months previously, Dr Tinsey noted in his presentation of this award that Chris continued to inspire through his resilience, positivity and trust in God’s plan. 

We all give thanks for the gift that Chris Straford was to all who were so inspired by this talented, vibrant, faithful and humble man. 

We keep the Straford family and the St Kevin’s community in our prayers as they grieve this great loss.



From left: Graham Goerke (EREA Board Chair), Chris Straford and Wayne Tinsey