Fr. Chris Riley
FATHER CHRIS RILEY – PROFILE
Father Chris Riley, founder and CEO of Youth Off The Streets, has worked with
marginalised youth for more than 35 years in a variety of roles including teacher, youth
worker, probation officer, residential carer and principal.
Father Chris Riley was inspired by the 1931 movie “Boys’ Town”, and at the age of 15 was
determined to become a priest to take care of the kids who had no one else. After
becoming a Salesian Priest, he worked for the charity Boys’ Town in a variety of roles and
finally as Principal.
In 1991, he left Boys’ Town and began to set up a variety of programs for troubled youth.
The programs are always responsive to need and are designed to help young people
develop the skills and qualities that will enable each young person to regain control of their
Father Riley has implemented innovative behaviour modification strategies to help young
people deal with a history of trauma, abuse and neglect including the Values Education
Service Learning curriculum which is now available to schools across Australia as part of
the YOUth Making a Difference teachers’ resource.
In 1997, Father Riley opened Key College, an independent High School and pioneered a
flexible education delivery model to help young people living on the streets and in
temporary accommodation return to school.
As CEO of Youth Off The Streets, Father Riley oversees the operation of over 25
programs that employ over 200 people and involve more than 600 volunteers.
With only around 40 per cent of funding coming from government sources, Youth Off The
Streets has become one of the largest youth services in Australia, offering crisis
accommodation, residential rehabilitation, clinical services and counselling, Outreach
programs, drug and alcohol rehabilitation, specialist Aboriginal services, education and
Father Chris Riley believes there is no such thing as a “child born bad”, but acknowledges
that there are bad environments, circumstances and family situations that impact
negatively on our young.
“We must have the courage to demand greatness from our youth”
For more information, please phone (02) 9330 3500 or visit our website at
Updated July 2010
Diploma of Teaching (3 years trained) Australian Catholic University, Castlebar Road,
Secondary Teachers Certificate of Registration No. 37378, 27 November 1975
Primary Teachers Registration Board, 19 March 1976
Bachelor of Theology, Melbourne College of Divinity, Clayton, Victoria, 30 April 1982
Bachelor of Arts (major Sociology and English) Monash University, Clayton, Victoria, 6 June
Diploma of Abuse Counselling, Australian Institute of Professional Counsellors, Lutwyche,
Queensland, 4 January 1996
Diploma of Psychology, Applied School of Psychology, Sydney, 1997
Diploma of Aboriginal Studies, TAFE NSW OTEN, 2010
Certificate IV in Alcohol and Other Drugs, TAFE NSW OTEN, 2010
Honorary Doctorate of Letters, University of Western Sydney. “This award is in recognition of
your outstanding humanitarian service to the community, especially youth.” 2010
Masters of Special Education, University of Southern Queensland, 2010
MEMBERSHIP AND REPRESENTATION:
Australian Institute of Professional Counselling
Fellow of Reclaiming Youth International, Sioux Falls, South Dakota, USA
Australian representative at the World Health Organisation (WHO) conference on street
children and substance abuse 1994
Guest speaker at Association of Child Welfare Agencies (ACWA) Conference 2003
Guest speaker at “Speak Out Indigenous Women’s Conference”, Darwin, 2004
2005 – 2007 Member of Advisory Group for the National Community Crime Prevention
Program convened by the Australian Government Attorney General’s Department
Member of National Advisory Group providing evidence to the United Nations regarding the
experience of Australian children in relation to the United Nations Convention on the Rights
of the Child
2005 – 2007 Member of National Youth Careers and Transitions Advisory Group (NYCTAG)
convened by the Australian Government Department for Education, Science and Training
Member of the Advisory Board of the Youth Mental Health Foundation. This Foundation is
under the guidance of Christopher Pyne MP, and chaired by Mr Ryan Stokes.
Editor-in-Chief, TeenMatters, Youth Off The Streets quarterly parenting magazine.
In October 2006, attended by invitation of the Vatican, the “Pontifical Council for the Pastoral
Care of Migrants and Itinerant People" 2nd International Meeting on the Pastoral Care of the
On the judging panel for the 2008 Human Rights Medal for the Human Rights and Equal
2008 Australia Day Ambassador to Camden
2008 Australian Government Youth Forum (NSW)
2008 Australian Federal Government 2020 Summit participant
2008 Guest Speaker at the World Peace Forum (WPF), Jakarta, Indonesia
2008 Appointed member of the Children’s Court Advisory Committee
2009 Australia Day Ambassador to Liverpool
2009 Regional Development Australia - Sydney Committee Member
2011 Patron – Pittwater Rugby Club (Juniors)
Updated July 2010
Paul Harris Fellow, Rotary Award 1994
Variety Club Humanitarian of the Year, NSW 1995
Vocational Excellence Award, Rotary Award 1997
Australian Achievers Award, Australia Day National Council 1998
Spirit of Crazy Horse, Reclaiming Youth International, South Dakota, USA 2000
NSW Australian of the Year, 2003
Australian of the Year Finalist 2003
Prime Minister’s Award for Excellence and Outstanding Contribution in Drug and Alcohol
Equity Trustees Not For Profit CEO Awards 2004, Judges Award and Joint Runner Up CEO
Rotary Club of Sydney Centennial Community Volunteer Award 2004/05
Ernst & Young Eastern Region Social Entrepreneur 2005
Toastmasters International Communication and Leadership Award for exceptional
communication and leadership skills 2006
Member (AM), General Division of the Order of Australia Queen’s Birthday Honours 2006.
(For service to disadvantaged youth through the establishment of Youth Off The Streets and
the development of a range of assistance and mentoring initiatives for adolescents, and to
the welfare of children overseas through humanitarian assistance efforts)
The AUSTCARE 2006 Peter Cullen Humanitarian Award, in the individual category, for work
with refugees and internally displaced people. Father Riley inspired Australians to support his
efforts to raise $2 million in funds to establish the Children’s Care Centre in Aceh in
partnership with Muhammadiyah. Father Riley has personally motivated his organisation and
the Australian public to focus on the needs of disadvantaged youth overseas by visiting
countries emerging from conflict such as East Timor and Albania.
Prime Minister's Award for Excellence in Business Community Partnerships, 2006 National
Winner (for mutually beneficial partnership with McGrath Estate Agents)
The 2006 Human Rights Medal from the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission
(shared with Phillip Adams, broadcaster), for outstanding contribution to human rights in
Australia for the establishment of Youth Off The Streets
Multi-recipient Paul Harris Fellow, Rotary Award (Sapphire) 1994 and 2007.
Lions International Association Melvin Jones Fellowship, 2008
Lions Clubs International Humanitarian Award, 2009 (Father Riley is the first Australian to be
bestowed this honour. In receiving the Award, he joins a list of dignitaries including Nobel
Peace Prize winner Muhammad Yunus, US President Jimmy Carter and Mother Teresa.
This Award provides worldwide recognition of Father Riley’s exceptional contribution and
dedication in support of disadvantaged young people.)