Movers & shakers: defence scientist and assistant secretaries

By David Donaldson

Friday January 25, 2019

Australia has a new Chief Defence Scientist, NSW’s first Chief Information Security Officer is departing, Victoria is after a new chair for its Essential Services Commission, and there have been several new Assistant Secretary appointments at federal level.


Tanya Monro

Professor Tanya Monro has been appointed the new Chief Defence Scientist, taking over the Defence Science and Technology group. Monro is currently the Deputy Vice Chancellor and Vice President of Research and Innovation at the University of South Australia, where she has delivered significant organisational transformation and cultural change.

She will commence in the role in March 2019. Monro takes over from Dr Alex Zelinsky, who was appointed in 2012, and is moving back to academia as University of Newcastle’s new vice-chancellor.

This is penultimate outstanding appointment to be made following a significant turnover of senior APS leadership at Defence. Airforce leadership is next in line for renewal, with changes to take place mid-year. Expected before then though, is appointment of a Deputy Secretary, Strategic Policy and Intelligence, which was Rebecca Skinner‘s substantive role before she was promoted to Associate Secretary late last year.

There’s now three women in the top 15 leadership positions of Defence, but it won’t take a generation to see further balance as a new crop of women are not far behind in the Band 2 on the public service side and 2-star ranks on the military side.

NSW Department of Finance, Services and Innovation

Maria Milosavljevic, the first ever NSW government chief information security officer, is departing to become chief data officer at the federal Department of Human Services.

She will take up the role at the end of the month, following a short period of leave.

Milosavljevic moved over from AUSTRAC in 2017 and is an expert in artificial intelligence.

DFSI Director of Engagement and Prevention Tony Chapman will act in the role until a permanent replacement is hired.

Victorian Essential Services Commission

Dr Ron Ben-David will step down as the head of Victoria’s Essential Services Commission on May 31, seeing out his 10-year term in the role.

The Andrews government are now searching for his replacement.

The ESC is Victoria’s independent regulator of essential services supplied by the electricity, gas, water, ports, rail freight and taxi industries.

The commission will be responsible for delivering key aspects of the government’s energy fairness plan — the biggest regulatory shake-up of the energy sector in Victoria’s history — providing stronger penalties for retailers who do the wrong thing and better protections for customers.

APS promotions: a new crop of assistant secretaries

Band 2

Natalie Horvat has been promoted to Group Manager at the Department of Education and Training, moving up from Band 1 at the Treasury.

Band 1

Usha Narain has been promoted within the Australian Tax Office to Assistant Commissioner — Policy, Analysis and Legislation.

Gavin O’Shea is now Assistant Commissioner — Tax Counsel Network, after being promoted within the Tax Office.

Michelle Rak  becomes Assistant Commissioner — External Engagement and Governance at the ATO, moving from Treasury.

Donna Valenti has been promoted within Finance, and is now Assistant Secretary.

Elizabeth Hickey moves up within Finance to take the role of Assistant Secretary.

Joumana El Hassan has been appointed Assistant Secretary at Veterans’ Affairs, moving across from Human Services.

Three women have been appointed to Assistant Secretary roles at the Department of Home Affairs: Leanne Blackley, Abigail Whiting and Caroline Sternberg.

And there have been three internal appointments to Branch Manager at the Department of Social Services: Catherine (Danielle) Finnigan, Kathryn Paton and Dayne Da Pozzo.

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