Archived News Item

New Chair of the Mercy Health Board


Ms Virginia Bourke has been appointed as the new Chair of the Mercy Health Board. Ms Bourke is a Melbourne-based lawyer and consultant who has been affiliated with the national Catholic health, aged and community care provider for the past 10 years.


“My vision is to continue the growth of Mercy Health as a dynamic, sustainable, national organisation which cares for people through all stages of their life,” Ms Bourke says.


“We have a unique capacity and responsibility to respond creatively to the needs of the communities we serve by developing new approaches to the delivery of care.”


Ms Bourke served on the Mercy Health Board from 2008–14 and was reappointed in 2016. She also worked as General Counsel for the Institute of Sisters of Mercy of Australia and Papua New Guinea from 2014–15. Ms Bourke replaces outgoing Chairman Julien O’Connell AM.


“Julien brought an unwavering focus on our mission and has been a staunch advocate for improving the way we care for our communities,” Ms Bourke says. “As people keep reminding me, these are big shoes to fill!”


Mr O’Connell joined the Mercy Health Board in 2004 and was appointed Chairman in 2008. During Mr O’Connell’s time as Chairman, Mercy Health has grown from 3,300 employees to more than 9,000. He is particularly proud of the advancement the organisation has made in the gender equality space, including having 50:50 representation on the Board — based on merit, not tokenism.


“I have been blessed with the support of an incredibly talented Board,” Mr O’Connell says. “They have sustained me and lifted me. I must also thank my mentor, Barry O’Callaghan AO, for his sound advice on difficult issues, as well as (Group Chief Executive Officer Adjunct Professor) Stephen Cornelissen and the Executive.”


Institute Leader, Eveline Crotty RSM congratulated Virginia and thanked outgoing Chair Julien O’Connell.


“During Julien’s tenure as the Chair of the Mercy Health Board, the number of people Mercy Health assists and cares for each and every day has grown considerably. Importantly, this growth has been achieved by strengthening the ‘Mercy’ in Mercy Health and ensuring that people on the edges of society are cared for and valued.


“I congratulate Virginia and look forward under Virginia’s tenure for this focus on ‘the edges’ to continue through the provision of quality, compassionate health and aged care.


“I acknowledge outgoing board members, Joan Wilson RSM and Agnes Sheehan for their wonderful contribution to the Board and the ongoing success of Mercy Health. I thank Berice Livermore RSM for agreeing to join the Board and I sure her enormous wisdom and experience will be valued by all involved with Mercy Health” Sr Eveline said.