New CEO Steps Up as Family Life Celebrates 50 Year Milestone

By Zoe Hopper March 5, 2020

Leading Victorian community services organisation Family Life is preparing to welcome a new Chief Executive Officer as it celebrates 50 years of service to the community this year.

Allison Wainwright will take over as CEO on April 5, replacing long-time CEO Jo Cavanagh OAM, who steps down on May 5 after a month-long handover. The appointment follows an internal succession plan to ensure a smooth transition.

“Jo Cavanagh has been a powerhouse for the organisation and leaves Family Life with a stable culture, stable strategy and the ability to meet our purpose of transforming lives for stronger communities,” Family Life Board Chair Grant Douglas said.

“She has overseen the growth and transformation of our organisation to ensure we can continue to improve the lives of vulnerable people and contribute to making the world a better place.”

Under Ms Cavanagh’s leadership, Family Life has grown its operating budget from $500,000 to $16 million with $4 million in assets.

There are now 150 employees and around 350 volunteers, delivering programs across the southern and south east regions of Victoria in family and community services, including a specialist family engagement program for Victorian prisons.

It has won several awards, including the Gold Award in the Australian Crime and Violence Prevention Awards for the Together We Can campaign in 2019, and has twice been named as one of the top 10 innovators the GiveEasy Not-for-Profit Innovation Index in Australia.

Ms Cavanagh’s contribution was recognised in 2013 with an Order of Australia.

New CEO Ms Wainwright has worked with Family Life since 2013, most recently as Deputy CEO. Her 20-year career in social work practice covers both government and not-for-profit sectors, working with children, youth and family services in South Africa and Australia.

“Allison has been integral to the success of Family Life since joining us in 2013 and I am delighted to be leaving it in such capable hands,” Ms Cavanagh said.

“She has extensive experience and leadership in all our speciality areas, and has previously managing clinical and case support teams in family violence, children and family services, in particular clinical mental health and services for women and children experiencing violence.”

Established in 1970 by community members concerned about pressures on families in Melbourne’s bayside suburbs, Family Life works with vulnerable children, families and communities across the southern Melbourne region.

It offers a range of evidence-based programs to support vulnerable parents and their children, engage adolescents in education, teach older women about financial independence and assist people experiencing family violence.

Family Life has contributed to major policy and practice change in child wellbeing, family violence prevention response and social enterprise innovation. It provides national advocacy on social policy.

Allison Wainwright and Jo Cavanagh
Allison Wainwright (left) will take over as CEO, replacing long-time CEO Jo Cavanagh OAM (right).
appointment CEO

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