about us

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Christophorus House staffing structure builds on the strength of the highly qualified Board and Management team. Staff are encouraged to continually improve their academic credentials and are supported in these endeavours.

our vision

Christophorus House Retirement Village (CHRV) is a thriving community where the living ideals of Anthroposophy infuse and enrich the care of the aged and those with special needs. For each individual, CHRV will be their home and CHRV will be sensitive to the cultural and spiritual background of each resident.

our mission

To provide a high quality environment to the community we serve, especially aged and disabled persons, based on the therapeutic and social ideals of Dr Rudolf Steiner; emphasising respect for the dignity of the individual. This will be achieved through maintaining a harmonious, healing and aesthetic environment, providing nursing care practices and other services of the highest standard.

capable & caring staff

We aim to make retirement living at CHRV as enjoyable and comfortable as possible whilst meeting the dignity of each individual resident as well as their wellbeing in physical, social, psychological and spiritual terms.

Our History

CHRISTOPHORUS HOUSE was founded in 1974 as a voluntary association of members of the Anthroposophical Society which works with Christ-oriented knowledge known as Anthroposophy (i.e. the wisdom of the human being) given by Dr Rudolf Steiner for the life and healing of humanity in this age.

The name Christophorus comes from an old legend whose hero, Orphorus, out of his strength and devotion, sought to serve the mightiest King there was – the Christ – and thus served humanity. The name Christophorus is also associated with Saint Christopher who, the legend tells, carried a child on his back across a river until he revealed himself as the Christ.

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How Christophorus House Was Born

The founding impulse for Christophorus House arose in the heart of an Austrian woman called Helga Forster. Helga came to Australia by boat in 1948. Born and raised in the lovely Austrian mountains, Helga was well educated, loved skiing and playing the piano. Finding Australia a very different culture at that time, Helga struggled for 25 years to find her niche. She tried nursing and then worked in a legal practice. Her inner life was idealistic and permeated with the spiritual writings of Rudolf Steiner, Austrian philosopher and founder of Anthroposophy.

Helga’s Dream

A fellow immigrant, who was also deeply involved with Anthroposophy, wrote of Helga’s dream, which ignited her will and heart to find a place of retirement for people in the closing years of life.

“One day when I met Helga, I sensed a difference in her and she seemed both solemn and excited. We sat down together and she said: “Amelie, I must tell you something very important. I have had a dream! I dreamed I came into a park. It was a dark night and very cold. Then I saw lying in front of me, the figure of an old man. He looked so desolate, so forlorn!

He did not speak, but I seemed to hear him whispering ‘help’! Now this image stands before me, I see him day and night and it has become clear to me that I have to do something to help build a home for old people.’ It was clear that this was much more than a dream and a good idea – it certainly was a vision”.
Amelie Hanbury-Sparrow – (early resident)

In the early 1970’s, there was little being offered to older people in the way of accommodation and care. How different is the picture today, 45 years on! One can scarcely compare any aspect of modern aged care, with the pioneering period in which Christophorus House was founded.

Can one imagine a single person impulsively writing to the governing powers of today asking the question Helga asked in May, 1973? She wrote three letters: one to Mr. Hayden, the Social Security Minister; another to the Department of Treasury and a third to the Chief Secretary’s Department, seeking information on how to go about building a retirement village. Her legal experience equipped her well for the task of gaining precise knowledge of all necessary procedures. In this, she was greatly supported by Louis Tromp, who for many years, served as Treasurer and Advisor on financial matters, and who shared her enthusiasm and mission.

The capacity to communicate such a fiery mission as lived in Helga is the other side of the story. Single initiatives cannot survive without a community of support. The support came from Helga’s fellow members of the Anthroposophical Society in Sydney, who also recognised the growing community need for care and housing and a nourishing way of life for ageing people.

“An enormous impetus drove all its members to achieve the seemingly impossible goal, with no money and lots of difficulties! Whilst some worked on plans, others began to collect funds. Helga gave up her good job in order to dedicate herself completely to the task. Contributions came in, donations were made, and fund-raising parties were organized. I particularly remember those in the house of Dick and Beryl van Leer, which brought us all much closer together and raised quite a lot of money” said Amelie.

In 1981, the Village was incorporated as a Public Company Limited by Guarantee and is a “non-profit’ and ‘public benevolent organisation’. It is a member of the Aged Services Association but has no affiliations with any church denomination, political or other group. The basic tenet is the freedom of the individual to follow his or her own lifestyle, in full recognition of the needs and rights of others.

CHRV Legal Structure

Christophorus House RV [CHRV] is a Not for Profit (NFP) Public Company Limited by Guarantee and has charitable status. There are no shareholders and as CHRV is a NFP, there is no distribution at any time of surpluses; all surpluses are retained for use for the residents.

CHRV has beneficial tax status, meaning, that it has income tax exemption and also tax deductible donation status, with exemptions for GST on certain income and expenditure items.

Residents can join as members of the Company for an annual nominal fee, which entitles residents to, among other things, voting rights in the election of Directors. This means that the Village is run by the people for the people. Membership requires application to the Board for acceptance.

key staff

  • MILAN TELFORD
    MILAN TELFORD CEO

    Milan graduated from the University of New England with a Bachelor of Financial Administration in 1985. He is a fellow of the Australian Society of Certified Practicing Accountants. In 1990 he completed examinations of the Institute of Chartered Secretaries. In 2007, he completed the Post Graduate Diploma in Applied Corporate Governance. In 2008, Milan also completed the Legal Profession Admission Board – Diploma of Law and is an associate member of the NSW Law Society. Milan has been CEO of Christophorus House since April 2005.

  • DENISE ZHAO
    DENISE ZHAO Faculty Manager

    Denise graduated from the Australian Catholic University with a Bachelor of Nursing in 1997 and worked as a registered nurse in Prince of Wales Hospital at Randwick from 1998. In 2001 Denise completed her Graduate Diploma of Commerce from University of New South Wales. Denise started working in aged care management in May 2003. In 2007 Denise completed her Masters of Health Informatics from University of New South Wales. Denise has experience with managing low care, high care and dementia care. Denise has been working at Christophorus House since April 2013.

  • MONIKA BEBB
    MONIKA BEBB Self Care Liaison Co-ordinator

    I joined the Christophorus House team in 2006 to serve the needs of its independent living unit (ILU) residents, to support the CEO and Hostel Manager administratively and co-ordinate events with the Diversional Therapist.  My background in administration includes work in banking, legal, engineering and medical organisations and in aged care (Care Worker in the UK).  I completed a Certificate of Business Administration at TAFE and attended the foundation course at the Centre for Social Development in the UK.  The specially created role of Self Care Liaison Officer provides care and social support for ILU residents to help them remain independent, accessing home care and other services when needed.

our principles

( click on each item below to see details )

Board of Directors

CHRV is comprised entirely of non-executive directors and certain members have specific functional responsibilities. The Board members provide visionary leadership to the organisation and are transparent and available to the members in their Board role. While the Board has overall control and management of CHRV it may, subject to the Corporations Act and the CHRV Constitution, delegate a range of powers, duties and responsibilities to committees and management.

The Board meets eleven times a year for scheduled meetings and usually meets without the CEO for a set period. Board members are elected by the membership for a term of two years at a time. All Board members are requested to disclose related party transactions prior to their appointment and these are updated each Board meeting.

Board members must attend at least one governance workshop to enhance their understanding of the law and Board responsibility. Day to day management of the organisation’s affairs and implementation of corporate strategy and policy initiatives are the responsibility of the Chief Executive and management.

Chief Executive

The Chief Executive (CEO) is accountable to the Board for the management of CHRV within the policy and authority levels reviewed and approved by the Board. The Board determines capital expenditure on the recommendation of the CEO; the CEO has authority to approve business transactions within the predetermined limits set by the Board in the budgetary process.

The CEO’s responsibilities include advising the Board on strategic direction, ensuring the organisation conducts its affairs within the law and keeping the Board informed of all major business proposals and developments through regular reports.

Composition of the Board

The Board is made up of directors with appropriate skills, experience and attributes for the organisation and its business.

All Directors have the right, at the Company’s expense, to seek independent advice on any issues before the Board, or on the conduct of the Board or management. The Board’s prior consent to obtaining such advice is required, but will not be unreasonably withheld.

Board Member Representatives

There are four permanent functional roles held by members of the Board, with Board members seconded from time to time, to undertake various tasks on an ad hoc basis.

The permanent roles are Treasurer, responsible for the Board liaison with the CEO on all financial and audit matters; Hostel liaison, responsible for the Board liaison with the Hostel manager on clinical and resident care matters; Independent Living liaison and Investment Committee.

CHRV also has the following Board committees: Building Committee (for new ILU Development Project), Investment Committee (for management of CHRV investments) and Muriel Waite Bequest Fund Committee.

All directors are independent as defined by the ASXCGC guidelines. Directors are appointed by the annual general meeting of the company and once elected remain in office for a term of two years.

Members of the Board and staff are required to meet high standards of honesty and integrity. The Board and management are respectful of the various stakeholders associated with CHRV, including residents, families and members of the company and in decisions which affect the medium to long term strategic future of CHRV consult widely in order to effect responsible decision making. The residents also have a Residents Committee which is set up under the Retirement Villages Act 1999 (and associated Regulations) whereby residents have input into day to day aspects of Village life.

The staff Performance Review and Development process includes behavioural expectations.

CHRV has in the Chief Executive a fellow of the Society of Certified Practicing Accountants, fellow of the Governance Institute (FCIS) and Associate of NSW Law Society, who brings to the Chief Executive portfolio the professional skill, knowledge and integrity as required of a professional in accounting, corporate governance and law. Together with the Treasurer, the Chief Executive assists the Board of Directors to discharge its responsibility for financial reports, internal control systems, and the operation of organisation risk management processes.

External Auditors

The annual audit is undertaken by Stirling Williams. Each year the external auditors provide an annual declaration to the Board of their independence. The Board undertakes a full review of the audit engagement before deciding to reappoint the existing audit firm or seek tenders on the open market.

This principle is not relevant to CHRV given the nature of the organisation. CHRV does, however, disclose significant information to members as and when required, by letter, newsletter, meeting or on this web site.

CHRV is a public company limited by guarantee and is bound by corporations law. Members have all the rights of shareholders under the Corporations Act 2001. CHRV provides members with timely access to information about the activities of the Village, management and governance. It does this through ad hoc circulars, as and when required, the quarterly newsletter and through this web site.

The annual general meeting enables members to attend the meeting and question the Honorary Chairman, the Honorary Treasurer and the Chief Executive.

CHRV works within a framework and policy which gives the organisation clear guidelines on how to assess risks and opportunities and identify the appropriate action plans. The risk management approach is used primarily to:

  • ensure adherence to legislative and accreditation requirements;
  • protect the financial standing of the organisation;
  • provide quality services and manage safety risks to residents, and comprises:
    • audits (room / medications / WH&S / external financial);
    • adherence to its policies;
    • new resident risk assessment;
    • ongoing reassessments of residents needs;

CHRV directors undertake training relevant to their roles on the Board.
Directors develop, in consultation with stakeholders, long term strategic objectives and plans for the organisation and monitor their performance in line with meeting these objectives.

CHRV Board also undertake annual performance reviews of senior management.

The Board considers the remuneration of the Chief Executive and senior management. The two highest paid executives are paid within the salary band of $80K – $120K. No bonus incentive scheme is in place for staff.

As mentioned in Principle 3, the Board members undertake to consult on all matters which impact the lives of CHRV residents, with residents, their family, and members of CHRV. Prudential responsibilities require the Board to safeguard incoming contributions of residents, manage the organisation in a financially viable manner and ensure that suppliers to CHRV are paid in a timely manner.

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