New CEO appointed to Services Australia

By Shannon Jenkins

Wednesday March 11, 2020

Rebecca Skinner

Associate Secretary of the Department of Defence Rebecca Skinner has been appointed CEO of Services Australia, starting next week. 

The appointment comes three months after the head of the then-Department of Human Services was left out of the job, along with four other secretaries.

Minister for the NDIS and Government Services Stuart Robert on Wednesday welcomed Skinner to the role, and thanked Amanda Cattermole for her leadership as interim CEO, “particularly during the recent challenges of the Black Summer bushfire disasters”.

“Ms Skinner will bring critical capability to the role of the CEO at an important time in the transformation journey of Services Australia, having previously driven significant reform across the Defence enterprise and led the department through a range of crisis response efforts in support of government,” he said.

Skinner was appointed as the acting associate secretary of Defence in October 2017, and took on the role permanently in September 2018. There, she has managed Defence’s enterprise planning, performance and risk management, and the integration of all corporate enabling functions across the department.

Skinner has held a number of other Defence roles, including deputy secretary of strategic policy and intelligence and deputy secretary of defence people. She began her career with Defence in 1993, working at the Australian Signals Directorate in a range of positions.

She has also served in the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet as assistant secretary, defence and intelligence, and as a senior executive in the attorney-general’s portfolio.

Read more: Out of the blue: PM shows the Secretaries Board who’s boss

The federal government began looking for a new boss for Services Australia in January after former secretary of the Department of Human Services Renee Leon was sacked during Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s shake-up of the public service in December. The department was renamed Services Australia, and became an executive agency within the Department of Social Services — headed by Kathryn Campbell.

Executive recruitment firm Egon Zehnder was contracted to find Leon’s replacement. She officially finished in the role on February 1.

In her new role, Skinner will see Services Australia go through a complete rebrand as it attempts to move away from past controversies such as robodebt and transform its approach to service delivery. Shortly after December’s APS overhaul, the Digital Transformation Agency released a promotional video presenting the government’s “vision” of Services Australia.

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