Double act takes the reins at Hutt St Centre

Hutt St Centre executives Chris Burns (left) and Tim O’Callaghan at the Hutt St Centre (The Southern Cross)

The new leadership at Adelaide's Hutt St Centre say it’s “business as usual” as they continue the work of the Daughters of Charity in serving the homeless. Source: The Southern Cross.

Tim O’Callaghan recently took over as board chair and Chris Burns, the current Mental Health Commissioner for South Australia, will commence as chief executive officer next month.

The two men have worked together before, at the Defence Teaming Centre – Mr O’Callaghan as a board member for 12 years and Mr Burns as chief executive for six years – at a time when the DTC was campaigning for the Australian Navy’s ships and submarines to be made locally.

Both are sons of Knights of the Southern Cross, a national organisation for lay Catholic men. Barry O’Callaghan OAM (deceased) was a Knight for 50 years and a founding member of the Board of Southern Cross Homes and Phil Burns has reached the highest echelons of the Knights and is still actively involved.

Mr O’Callaghan said he knew Mr Burns would be a “good guy” to work with and would bring his skills as a “collaborator” to Hutt St Centre.

The men have supported the centre in the past but Mr Burns said it was during his three and a half years as Mental Health Commissioner that he came to appreciate the “key role that the Centre plays in the mental health and wellbeing of South Australians”.

“One of the key tasks I had when I set up the commission was to develop a vision, so we went and talked to people and we thought they’d say ‘too long in emergency departments’ or ‘I can’t get an appointment’ but actually what they said was ‘we’ve lost our sense of community’.

“So our vision was that South Australia aspires to be a resilient, compassionate, connected community, which is exactly what the Hutt St Centre is.”

With 400 volunteers and 76 staff at the centre, Mr Burns is the first to admit that the “experts” are already there and that his role is strategic planning and analysis. “It’s just about making it easier for them to do their job properly,” he said.

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