EREA welcomes suite of new senior executives, bolsters education services across Australia 

17 March 2023: Edmund Rice Education Australia (EREA) will be strengthened in 2023 with several new hires appointed to its senior leadership team.

Among these new appointments are Human Resources (HR) Director, Kym Bakaric, and six Board Chairs and CEOs who will oversee EREA’s new subsidiary companies. Dr Stephen Brown has also been appointed as Executive Chair of the EREA Ltd Board until January 2024, an evolution of his interim appointment in 2022 due to Stephen’s already significant contribution to EREA.

Kym is a highly experienced HR professional, with more than 20 years of experience and a passion for education and organisational development. Kym has held various senior HR roles at Victoria University and was most recently at the helm as Executive Director of People and Culture, where she was principal advisor to the CEO and executive group. During this time, Kym also supported staff through the extraordinary changes and challenges that resulted from the pandemic.

Kym joined EREA in November 2022 and is already embedding herself in the organisation, with plans in place to strengthen the ways in which EREA supports, encourages and develops its national network.

Interim Executive Director Ray Paxton said Kym would work to nourish relationships within the EREA network: “Creating a new HR Director role was central to our commitment to bolster EREA’s service offering and ensure that our entire network gets access to the most highly qualified, specialised expertise possible. It is wonderful to see Kym already working proactively and strategically to ensure EREA is a place where people feel equipped to support our schools and students, and enact the charism and tradition of Edmund Rice.”

The additional appointments of subsidiary Board Chairs and CEOs strengthen EREA’s new organisational structure and enable more specialised and targeted support to be delivered to EREA schools across the country.

Amongst these include specialised companies for EREA Flexible Schools, which serve some of the most marginalised young people in Australia, EREA Colleges, which will oversee the colleges and early learning centres across Australia (with the exception of Victoria and New South Wales), and EREA New South Wales Colleges, which will govern seven NSW colleges. EREA schools in Victoria will continue to be governed by the Trustees of EREA.


New subsidiary Board Chair appointments to date include:


Pauline Gately, Chair of EREA Colleges Ltd        

Pauline is an accomplished international economist, investment strategist, Chair and Non-Executive Director with a wealth of experience across a broad portfolio of Board positions in the mining and resources sector, financial technology, profit-for-purpose and Fast Moving Consumer Goods industry. Pauline brings a sharp focus to strategy, risk, and governance. She is currently Interim Executive Chair of The Sustainable Nutrition Group Ltd (ASX:TSN), Non-Executive Chair of Kalgoorlie Gold Mining Ltd (ASX: KAL)  and a Non-Executive Director of Ardiden Ltd (ASX: ADV) where she chairs the Audit and Risk Committee and Remuneration and Nomination Committee.

Board members of EREA Colleges Ltd are well credentialed professionals in the education sector and other fields, including Liam Smith, Pamela Ronan, Graham White, Vincent Thomas, Karen Bullock, Mary-Eileen Scanlan and Brian Populin.

Sam Hardjono, Board Chair of EREA NSW Colleges Ltd

Sam is currently a senior strategic advisor and has extensive executive experience as CEO, CFO and COO and has served on inter-governmental, not-for-profit, corporate, private and start-up boards, either as a trustee, non-executive director, or in an advisory capacity for over 20 years. Currently he is a Non-Executive Director and Chair of Finance & Performance for Healthy North Coast Ltd and Non-Executive Director and Chair of Audit & Risk, Chair of Tech & Cyber for the Australian Red Cross and previously Chair for New South Wales. As an old Waverley Boy, he was a member of the school Board for 12 years, four of which as Chair reflecting his passion and commitment to Catholic education in the tradition of Blessed Edmund Rice.

Board members of EREA NSW Colleges Ltd are Gregory Baynie, David Lee-Young, Mark Askew, Paul Murray, Caroline Butler Bowdon and Virginia Ryan.

Thelma Parker, Board Chair of EREA Flexible Schools Ltd

Thelma is an Aboriginal woman from Warluwarra/Wangkayujuru/Wangkaymunha clan group and has vast experience in achieving positive educational outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people. She has a very good understanding of the need to deliver tangible ‘life’ outcomes through the EREA Flexi model to create holistic and wrap-around services through education that include access to social services, healthcare, mental well-being, housing and also working with correctional services. A committed Catholic, Thelma has worked in Catholic education for the past 25 years and has a very deep association with EREA through her sons who both attended Christian Brothers schools and her work with EREA Flexi Schools.

Board members of EREA Flexible Schools Ltd are William LeMass, Raelene Garvey, Christopher Veraa, Rob Feeney, Edward Phelan and Marnee Shay.


New CEO/Director appointments include:


Chris Woolley, CEO of EREA Colleges Ltd (to commence in May 2023 )

Chris is a senior executive with 25 years’ experience in management, education, law, and policy in both the private and public sectors. He comes to EREA from Queensland Catholic Education Commission, where he is currently the Acting Executive Director, and substantively the Chief Operating Officer and Company Secretary since 2016. Chris has broad experience in a faith-based setting, with work focused on mission and identity. Chris also brings significant leadership experience in complex strategy, governance, and assurance functions.

Maura Manning, CEO of EREA NSW Colleges Ltd
Maura has a unique blend of system and school leadership experience across independent, Catholic and public schools in NSW. Currently, Maura works as the Director of Learning at Catholic Schools Parramatta Diocese, overseeing 80 schools, 44,000 students and 5,000 staff. As Fair Education Director at Australian Schools Plus, a national not-for-profit that channels philanthropic funding to less advantaged schools, Maura worked to enhance student learning and wellbeing outcomes through family and community engagement.

Matt Hawkins, CEO of EREA Flexible Schools Ltd
Matt comes from within the EREA network, previously working as the Principal of the Marlene Moore Flexi Schools Network and Head of Campus at the Hemmant Flexible Learning Centre in Brisbane. Prior to this Matt spent more than 16 years in Senior Leadership positions at two EREA schools in QLD. In 2012, Matt co-launched Edmund Rice Advocacy (ERA) for Change, a movement that engages EREA students in advocacy campaigns, the most prominent being the Detention for Detention campaign which acts in solidarity with young people seeking asylum. Matt has recently completed a Doctor of Education on the topic of inclusivity.

Andy Kuppe, Director of Victorian Schools
Bringing more than 20 years’ experience in the education sector, Andy will work alongside the Trustees of EREA to oversee schools in Victoria. Andy assumes this role after almost five years as Principal at EREA’s Parade College in Victoria. Prior to this appointment, Andy held various senior leadership roles at schools across Victoria, and worked as CEO of the Edmund Rice International Heritage Centre in Ireland.

Executive Director of EREA Ltd, Dr Stephen Brown, said the new appointments represent an exciting new chapter for EREA: “At the heart of EREA’s system of schools are good people and processes that support school leaders to provide a positive, safe and healthy culture of learning for all. Our new HR Director, Kym Bakaric, as well as each of the new Board Chairs and CEOs, are fundamental to making this a reality for every EREA school community in every state across the country. I am delighted to see the new governance structure come to life, and confident it will enable EREA to build a sustainable and thriving future in the spirit of collaboration and commitment to the Mission of Edmund Rice.”

For more information about Edmund Rice Education Australia, its new governance structure, and subsidiary companies, please visit

Media Release, New EREA Appointments – 17 March 2023