On Tuesday 25 January, Gerard Jones, former Deputy CEO of MacKillop Family Services, died peacefully at home surrounded by his loved ones, two years after his cancer diagnosis. Gerard has touched the lives of many people, and many have been strengthened by his support and mentoring. His leadership, based on compassion and respect for all people, inspired MacKillop to invest in the Sanctuary Model, and he remained a champion of Sanctuary, well beyond his retirement in 2019.
Gerard was always more concerned for others and dealt with challenges with good humour, grace and positivity. Gerard was so grateful for the love and care that his family provided and appreciated the many messages and love and support he received from his MacKillop family and across the sector.
Over the past decade, Gerard held many roles at MacKillop, beginning with the role of Executive Director Operations in 2011, where he was responsible for all programs across Victoria and NSW.
Gerard was also instrumental in MacKillop forming relationships with the Aboriginal community in Western Australia which led to our growth in the Pilbara and laid the foundations for the partnerships we now hold with Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisations across the country. He always had a passion for our school and education programs and led the redevelopment of the school curriculum and the trauma-informed approach to education which is now known as ReLATE. He championed access to education services for children and young people in out of home care unfailingly throughout his career.
Gerard then moved into the role of Director Innovation and Business Development where he built many critical relationships and partnerships which MacKillop still has today. Gerard was also the Deputy CEO and Director Sanctuary Institute, and was the Director responsible for our Education programs, Good Grief, Aboriginal Service Development and Ethos and Culture.
Simply put, MacKillop would not be the organisation it is today without Gerard. His influence on MacKillop is vast, and his impact on the sector is immeasurable. Gerard came to MacKillop with over 25 years’ experience in the community sector. Prior to MacKillop, he worked for the Victorian Department of Human Services for four years where he managed the policy and program area for residential care and oversaw the development and implementation of the new therapeutic residential care model. Early in his career Gerard was a teacher for 12 years, and then held roles in Youth Justice and the building industry.
Gerard has been such a great connector within the sector. He was a member of the Victorian Centre for Excellence in Child and Family Welfare for many years and in 2019, we celebrated his recognition as an inspirational leader at the Victorian Protecting Children Awards.
Gerard has left a lasting legacy that has improved the lives of our most vulnerable children, young people and families and his passion to advocate for their human rights and his ability to engage diverse stakeholders was remarkable. There is no doubt that the warmth and special way that Gerard engaged with people touched many hearts and has left the world a better place. His humour and his appreciation for his colleagues, and love for the children and families we care for, was always at the heart of everything he did.
Vale Gerard. You will always be remembered.