Movers & shakers: new year new career

By Shannon Jenkins

January 14, 2021

The latest senior public sector appointments from across the country.

Senior Executive Service

Band 3

Matt Flavel

Matt Flavel has been appointed deputy secretary social security at the Department of Social Services. The former Treasury deputy secretary moved to DSS one year ago, several months after an alleged incident with staff at the Treasury Ball.

Russell Egan has been named deputy chief executive officer of Services Australia.

Band 2

Paula Svarcas, Joanna Stanion, Nicholas Blong, Kerren Crosthwaite, Colin Hunter, Melissa Brown, Melissa McEwen, and Mary-Margaret Campbell have all taken on the role of first assistant secretary at the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment.

Amanda Johnston

At the Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Communications, Ruth Wall and Lachlann Paterson have been named first assistant secretary.

Lesley Steel has been appointed first assistant secretary, intergovernmental relations and reform at the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet.

Amanda Johnston has been named deputy CEO of Safe Work Australia.

Laura Angus has been appointed first assistant secretary at the Department of Education, Skills and Employment.

Band 1

At the Department of Home Affairs, Catherine McLachlan has been named assistant secretary, people strategy and culture, while Matthew Stock has been appointed commander.

Jennifer Hutchinson has been appointed general manager governance group at IP Australia.

Joanna Blair has taken on the position of senior executive lawyer at the Australian Government Solicitor.

Joanna Blair

Nicholas Edwards has been named assistant secretary, communication and corporate relations at the Department of Parliamentary Services.

David Jansen has been appointed assistant secretary at the Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Communications.

Vajira Samaranayake has taken on the role of national manager at Services Australia.

Kenneth Gordon has been appointed deputy CEO, National Foundation for Australia-China Relations at the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

Ken Gordon

Deborah Mayall has been named deputy general counsel at the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission.

At PM&C, Margaret Thomas has been appointed assistant secretary, women’s economic security, programs and leadership.

Rebecca Shrimpton has taken on the role of head of defence, advanced manufacturing and space at Austrade.

Andrew Hutchinson has been appointed general manager at the Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources.

Lisa Nitschke has been appointed branch manager, land, policy and environment, at the National Indigenous Australians Agency.

Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security

Dr Christopher Jessup

Dr Christopher Jessup QC has been appointed acting inspector‑general of intelligence and security, starting January 18.

A former judge of the Federal Court of Australia, Jessup has more than 30 years of experience at the bar and was appointed Queen’s Counsel in 1987.

Attorney-general Christian Porter said Jessup would help ministers ensure Australia’s intelligence agencies “respect human rights” and comply with ministerial guidelines and directions.

Porter thanked Jessup as well as outgoing inspector-general Margaret Stone.

UN Force Cyprus

Major General Cheryl Pearce has completed her tenure as force commander United Nations Force in Cyprus.

MAJGEN Cheryl Pearce

Defence minister Linda Reynolds has congratulated Pearce for her contribution to global peacekeeping efforts.

“Over the past two years, Major General Pearce has led the UN Force in Cyprus during the conduct of peace and stability operations across the buffer zone, which is a product of the long-standing ceasefire arrangement that has been in place since 1974,” she said in a statement.

“I commend Major General Pearce on her efforts in fostering senior leadership dialogue with both Republic of Cyprus and Turkish forces on the island, and I wish her every success in the future.”

Pearce has commanded more than 800 peacekeepers representing 15 nations since January 2019. Reynolds noted this marked the first time the UN Force in Cyprus has been led by an all-female leadership team.

“Australia has a long and proud history of contributing to international peacekeeping and peace building efforts,” she said.

“The involvement of women in peacekeeping operations, especially at senior levels, enhances the prospects of reaching sustainable peace.”

Sport Integrity Australia

Former Western Australian Department of Premier and Cabinet director-general and former commonwealth cabinet secretary Peter Conran has been appointed to the Sport Integrity Australia Advisory Council.

Peter Conran

He has been joined by World Sailing vice president Sarah Kenny (chair), Paralympics Australia CEO Lynne Anderson, Golf Australia CEO James Sutherland, former elite athlete and governance expert Margot Foster, former NSW Police commissioner Ken Moroney, sports consultant and former elite athlete Scott Draper, former national children’s commissioner Megan Mitchell and policy adviser Jason Marocchi.

Announcing the appointments, sport minister Richard Colbeck said the federal government has “invested heavily in protecting the integrity of Australian sport”.

“By establishing Sport Integrity Australia and the National Sports Tribunal, increasing investment into independent compliant handling and forming the Sport Integrity Australia Advisory Council, Australians can be confident everything possible is being done to keep the sport they love clean, safe and fair,” he said.

Sport Integrity Australia commenced operations on July 1 2020, amid the inquiry into Sport Australia and former sport minister Bridget McKenzie’s handling of a commonwealth grant program.

Read more: Sports rorts: minister’s public interest immunity claim rejected, government accused of impeding on inquiry

Environment Protection Authority Victoria

Dr Cathy Wilkinson has stepped down as CEO of the Environment Protection Authority (EPA). Tim Eaton, the EPA’s executive director of regulatory standards, assessments and permissioning, will act in the role until a permanent appointment is made.

Dr Cathy Wilkinson

Environment minister Lily D’Ambrosio has thanked Wilkinson for her “meaningful contribution” to the sector and wished her well for the future.

“Over the past two years, Cathy has overseen the transformation of the EPA into a modern regulator, by helping shape the strong foundations the authority needs to stop pollution and protect Victoria’s environment,” D’Ambrosio said in a statement.

“This includes establishing the Waste Crime Prevention Inspectorate which works with WorkSafe Victoria, Victoria Police, emergency services agencies, local government and other regulators to improve and streamline intelligence sharing, and prevent waste crime in Victoria.

“Cathy’s leadership also saw the establishment of dedicated programs designed to support local communities, including setting up local offices in the north and west.”


Victoria’s Independent Broad-based Anti-corruption Commission has appointed Kylie Kilgour as acting deputy commissioner, commencing January 18.

Kylie Kilgour

Kilgour was most recently CEO of the Royal Commission into the Management of Police Informants, and has previously held various senior leadership roles with the Department of Justice and Community Safety.

IBAC commissioner Robert Redlich said Kilgour would focus on ensuring the conduct of Victoria Police officers is lawful, ethical and professional.

“Ms Kilgour’s significant expertise and deep understanding of police regulatory, integrity and administration matters will ensure IBAC’s capacity to expose and prevent corruption and police misconduct continues while recruitment is undertaken to fill this important role on an ongoing basis in the new year,” he said.


David Thodey has stepped down from his role as deputy chair of the National COVID-19 Coordination Commission Advisory Board.

David Thodey

NCC chair Nev Power said Thodey has been valuable to the board, acknowledging his wide network and “willingness to inquire and engage on a large number of issues”.

“In particular, he provided insights and advice on harnessing science and innovation to drive economic recovery, including digital enablement of government services and the economy, small and medium businesses, and commercialising research from Australia’s higher education sector,” Power said.

Thodey said it has been a privilege to provide support to the prime minister and government during COVID-19, alongside the other commissioners.

“It has been encouraging to see the way government, industry and the academic community have worked together for the greater good of our nation,” he said.

Thodey will continue in his role as chair of the CSIRO.

About the author
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
The Mandarin Premium

Insights & analysis that matter to you

Subscribe for only $5 a week


Get Premium Today