Bernie Geary OAM, the Victorian Commissioner for Children and Young People, has announced his retirement today after more than 40 years of service to Victoria’s young people.
Mr Geary was appointed to the role in 2013, following his previous role as Victoria’s first Child Safety Commissioner, which he held from 2005.
Mr Geary was the first youth outreach worker in Victoria and worked for many years with young families and disadvantaged youth in West Heidelberg and managed Jesuit Social Services’ Brosnan Centre prior to becoming the CEO of Jesuit Social Services.
He also served on the Victorian Youth Parole Board (1988-2005), was a member of the Premier’s Drug Advisory Councils in 1999 and 2001, the Victorian Sentencing Advisory Council (2005–2008) and the Victorian Children’s Council (2005-2013).
In his role as Commissioner, Mr Geary has contributed to a number of policy reforms and service improvements for children, particularly in out-of-home care and for young people in custody.
Mr Geary received the Order of Australia in 2002 for services to young people, a Centenary Medal in 2000, and has an honorary Masters Degree in Social Work. In June 2010, Bernie received an honorary award of Doctor of the University (Honoris Causa) Australian Catholic University.
He has brought extensive experience with him to the role and a genuine understanding of the issues confronting families and their children.
Retired Supreme Court Judge Frank Vincent, QC will commence as Acting Principal Commissioner when Mr Geary retires on 7 December.
A recruitment process to appoint a new Principal Commissioner will follow.
Quotes attributable to Minister for Families and Children Jenny Mikakos
“On behalf of the Andrews Labor Government, I thank Bernie for his decades of working to improve the lives of Victoria’s children and young people and wish him and his family all the best for his retirement.”
“Over his lifetime Bernie has shown a tireless commitment to children – particularly the most vulnerable children in our state.”
“A strong, independent voice for children and young people, Bernie has been a fearless and passionate advocate for their interests and improving the services provided to them for more than 40 years.”