Keeping Mary MacKillop's spirit alive - Mary MacKillop Today

Keeping Mary MacKillop’s spirit alive

Kieran Gleeson, Board Chair

I have recently been appointed as the Chairperson of Mary MacKillop today and am keen to try and emulate the remarkable work undertaken by our former Chair, the Hon. John Watkins. We are fortunate to have a highly skilled and extremely dedicated staff supported by an enthusiastic, well informed Board. The Staff and Board are committed to maintaining the legacy of Saint Mary MacKillop, even in these difficult times, in order to serve those most in need, here in Australia and around the world

Mary MacKillop Today:

  • Supports international aid and development by working in partnership with local communities to enable them to fully participate in society through projects that empower in the areas of education, health and livelihoods. (Timor Leste, PNG, Fiji and Peru).
  • Strives to restore self-reliance and human dignity, through Grants to community-based projects and the delivery of Tertiary scholarships to Indigenous students.
  • Strengthens financial inclusion through No Interest Loan Schemes and low interest loans for low income earners.

Like most organisations around the world, Mary MacKillop Today has needed to adapt to the challenges that have materialised as a result of COVID-19. I’d like to give you a brief update on how Mary MacKillop Today is facing those challenges whilst maintaining the legacy of Saint Mary MacKillop.


Here in Australia, we are continuing to provide our Scholarship Recipients with support, both financially, and in managing the impact and possible barriers that current restrictions may have on their ability to study and switch to online learning. In the Kimberley region of Western Australia, the delivery of the Equine Assisted Learning Program, has adapted to allow vital one to one sessions with vulnerable young Aboriginal people to continue by adhering to strict health guidelines.

While our Community Grant recipients have adjusted their projects to include online mentoring and building strong connections via social media. The important work of our Financial Inclusion team in assisting those in the Central-West of NSW, access no interest loans (NILS), continues via phone, online and social media, meeting the needs of those Australians in financial hardship and helping them avoid predatory lenders.


In Timor-Leste, we are working with the Timorese Government to assist in the delivery of health kits as well as running socialisation programs on COVID-19 in the community, providing important education on social distancing and instructions on necessary hygiene.

Mary MacKillop Today’s Timor-Leste staff demonstrating handwashing


Our Women’s Empowerment Program receives support from the Australian Government through the Australian NGO Cooperation Program (ANCP). and is exploring opportunities to run the workshops remotely or via telephone conferencing, while its radio program has increased its air time, responding to the health emergency and providing vital information to all with the community. Our Parent Engagement Program’s face to face activities have been suspended, but where possible, have moved online, while our Peruvian partner, CEOP llo is reallocating some project funds to include the provision of hygiene kits to be distributed. The Women’s Livelihood program, continues with the women working in the home where possible, with ethica, here in Australia, continuing to sell their beautifully handcrafted products to you and your families online.


In Papua New Guinea, in partnership with Callan Network, our volunteers are able to continue their direct support to people with disability in their own communities, while advocating that people with disability be included in public messaging, remote education and health service provisions. The Kommuniti Early Learning program with Buk bilong Pikinini has distributed to community libraries 10,000 copies of the “Our Special Stories”, while exploring options for remote delivery.


Our Mobile Kindy in Fiji has seen project funds reallocated to resource communities with education and hygiene kits, with our volunteers given access to the internet to continue to their training from home. The mentoring of young women in Project Talitha, also in Fiji, is now conducted via phone or online, with an exciting Video Storytelling project being piloted to keep the women engaged.


All of this incredible work is continuing, because of you and your ongoing generous support of Mary MacKillop Today.

I’d like to thank you for making it possible for us to serve those most in need, especially now, as we strive to carry on the legacy and the spirit of our Saint Mary MacKillop.