Successive Congregational Leaders and their Councils have looked at ways to respond to the challenge of change, including internal factors such as diminishing numbers and increasing age of the Sisters, and external factors such as the increasing complexity of the administration of Health Care facilities and the effect of Government policies.
In the 1980s, the Congregation set up a Congregational Health Service Directorate to explore the way ahead. It focussed on the articulation of a Health Care philosophy, a Mission Statement, and the education of all in the Health Service in mission, tradition, and the philosophy of the Health Care Services.
From 1986-1990 alternative administration structures were explored and new governance structures developed.
This led to the formal and legal incorporation of the Health Care apostolic works in the years leading up to the early 1990s. This incorporation of Health Care facilities involved a partnership between the Trustees of the Sisters of Charity of Australia (who are also the Congregational Leader and Council) and the Board of Directors. Over time, review and evaluation enabled gradual evolution of these structures. By 1996 Sisters of Charity Health Service Limited was established as an incorporated company with a National Board and National Chief Executive Officer. Local Boards of Directors still governed the facilities in different States.
Collaboration with other Catholic health care providers was embraced from the last years of the 20th Century, leading to shared ministries in Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne.
On 1 July 2009 the Governance of the Health Services was transferred to Mary Aikenhead Ministries, a new Church and Civil company with two Sisters of Charity, one other woman and two men as the inaugural Trustees.
Development and change continues, in response to changes in the context and our desire to remain strong advocates for the poor and marginalised. A new governance model was introduced in late 2010, with a single National Board for what is now called St. Vincent’s Health Australia, though local Community Advisory Councils retain a local voice.
To read more on the early work of the Sisters of Charity in health, click here.