The McCosker Oration

A significant event on the CSSA calendar is the delivery of the McCosker Oration.  This presentation usually forms part of the CSSA's annual Conference and provides an opportunity to pay tribute to the man who played a leading role in moving the church into the organised provision of welfare.


Monsignor James Francis (Frank) McCosker believed Catholic welfare was about inclusion, rather than exclusion of all people; about critical analysis of Government agendas rather than subservient compliance to them; and about professionalism in welfare rather than well meaning benevolence and dependant charity.

His obituary in the Australian in 1996 declared he was devoted to those people who were mostly unable to help themselves and though he was awarded the OBE, worldly honours did not change him.

In the late 1940s, as director of the Catholic Welfare Bureau in Sydney - later Centacare - McCosker built on the foundation laid in Australia by four professionally trained Catholic lay women social workers: Norma Parker, Connie Moffitt, Eileen Davidson and Mary Lyons.

McCosker ‘s vision and determination led to services like Meals on Wheels, Foster Care, Adoption Practice, the Council of Social Services, Marriage Counselling as part of Matrimonial and Family Law, Child Endowment and National Catholic Welfare.

Each year a member of the community is chosen to present the McCosker Oration which honours Monsignor McCosker who played a significant role in church-state relations in Australia and was truly a founding father of Catholic social services in Australia.

Emeritus Professor John Warhurst

Emeritus Professor John Warhurst

McCosker Orator 2017

John Warhurst has been an expert on the role of religion in politics in Australia for many years. Over his distinguished career, he has held senior positions at Deakin University, University of London and the University of New England.  From 1993 to 2008 John held the prestigious post of Professor of Political Science at ANU.

During his long professional career John has dedicated many volunteer hours to supporting Catholic social services in Australia.

He has served as a Board member of Catholic Welfare Australia and subsequently the Board of Catholic Social Services Australia where he held the position of Deputy Chair.

In 2016 John undertook a research project into CSSA’s history and wrote National Catholic Welfare Commission to Catholic Social Services Australia: The Evolution of Catholic Social Services Australia, 1956-2016 to celebrate the organisation’s 6oth anniversary.

Click here to download Emeritus Professor John Warhurst's McCosker Oration for 2016 – Matching Wits with Government.

Previous Orations