Our Executive Leadership Team

Our Executive Leadership Team, led by CEO Deirdre Cheers, ensure Barnardos Australia sets the standard for best practice child and family welfare, care and support.

Executive Structure


Executive Leadership Team



DEIRDRE CHEERS
Chief Executive Officer

Deirdre Cheers is an experienced CEO and well-known and respected leader in the Australian child and family sector, with specific expertise in child protection and children’s social care. With an extensive professional social work career, she has a broad range of skills and experience in management as well as direct service delivery of child protective services, family preservation and early intervention, and the full continuum of out-of-home care in Australian and international contexts.

With qualifications including Masters Degrees in Social Work and Public Administration, Deirdre has an extensive publication and presentation record across a range of areas concerning vulnerable children, young people and families, and including policy, practice and research. Deirdre is a former Chair and Deputy Chair of the NSW child welfare peak body ACWA (Association of Children’s Welfare Agencies), and current Board Director. She continues to participate in a variety of Advisory Committees and Ministerial Councils at both State and Federal levels from 1994 to now. She is a Graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors, and a long-standing member of the Australian Association of Social Workers.

Having previously worked for Barnardos Australia during the period of 1986 to 2006 (including being a member of the Barnardos Senior Management Team 1994 - 2006), Deirdre was appointed to the CEO role in July 2015. Since then her leadership has overseen an extensive organisational review process and management restructure, strengthening Barnardos organisational culture and strategic positioning for future and ongoing revenue diversification and growth.

Qualifications: MPubAdmin, MSW (Res), GradDip (Couns), BSocStud (Hons), MAASW, GAICD


JAMES BARRY
Executive Leader, Finance and Corporate
Qualifications: FCA, BBS (Hons), GAICD


ELIZABETH COX
Executive Leader, Practice Quality
Qualifications: BA Social Science, MBA


RITA D'ARCY
Executive Leader, People and Culture
Qualifications: BA Commerce, M Organisational Development and Strategic HRM, M Leadership, CIV Training and Assessment, GAICD, CFAHRI, FCIPD


PENNY HOOD
Executive Leader, Children and Families
Qualifications: BA Arts, BA Law, M Policy Studies, Specialist Certificate Implementation Science


PATRICK KERLIN
Executive Leader, Finance and Corporate - till October 2020
Qualifications: CA, BA Business, Grad Dip CSP, ACIS, MPS Social Work, MAICD


SARAH SPENCE
Executive Leader, Engagement and Giving
Qualifications: BA Education, CIV Training and Assessment, Grad Dip Marketing and Communications, M Adult Education, M Strategic Business Management