Movers & shakers: former Australian Digital Health Agency CEO to lead Healthdirect Australia

By Shannon Jenkins

March 4, 2021

The latest senior public sector appointments from across the country.

Senior Executive Service

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Katrina Tonkin

The Department of Home Affairs has appointed 11 assistant secretaries: Elise Wattam, Dianna Smith, Drew Layton, Matthew Wardell, Brett White, Elizabeth Clark, Sandra Jeffery, Michael Crawford, Michelle Pearce, Jacob Cannon, and Mark Dominick.

Katrina Tonkin has been named executive director, corporate and governance, at the National Drought and North Queensland Flood Response and Recovery Agency. She has previously worked at the Agriculture department, the Commonwealth Superannuation Corporation, and the National Archives of Australia.

Shane Samuelson has been appointed assistant secretary at the Department of Education, Skills and Employment. Samuelson has previously worked for the OECD, and the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet.

Do you know a senior public servant who has recently taken on a new role? Email to let us know.

Ex ADHA boss joins Healthdirect Australia

Former Australian Digital Health Agency CEO Bettina McMahon has been appointed to lead Healthdirect Australia, commencing on March 15.

Bettina McMahon

McMahon, who has also served as chief operating officer and executive general manager for industry and government at the ADHA, said she was delighted to join Healthdirect.

“Healthdirect Australia is widely regarded as one of the most trusted digital health organisations in Australia, a reputation that continues to grow as it supports the Australian government with the COVID-19 vaccine rollout,” she said.

“More broadly, we know COVID-19 has fundamentally changed how we deliver healthcare in this country and I am excited about the important role Healthdirect will play in embedding core infrastructure, such as the National Health Services Directory, to continue to improve the experience of digital health.”

Healthdirect board chair Jane Muirsmith said McMahon was joining the organisation at a “pivotal” time.

“With her exceptional credentials as a senior leader, we look forward to working with her as we enter our next phase in the delivery of virtual health services for the governments of Australia, empowering Australians to manage their health and access the care and support they need,” she said.

Small business ombud

Bruce Billson

As rumoured, former small business minister Bruce Billson has officially been named as the next Australian small business and family enterprise ombud. His term will run for five years, commencing on March 11.

The ex Liberal MP was censured by parliament in 2018 after it was found that he had failed to declare payments from a lobbying group while he was still working for the government.

Employment minister Michaelia Cash said Billson would “amplify the voices of small and family businesses across the nation” in his new role. She also thanked outgoing ombud Kate Carnell, who has left “a significant legacy and has provided a solid foundation on which to build”.

Carnell welcomed the appointment.

“Having played an integral role in the establishment of the ombudsman’s office, Mr Billson is well positioned to carry the torch,” she said.

Read more: Censured ex Liberal MP rumoured to be next small business ombud

Veteran Family Advocate

Gwen Cherne has taken on the role of veteran family advocate at the Military Rehabilitation and Compensation Commission (MRCC).

Gwen Cherne

Veterans’ affairs minister Darren Chester said the inaugural veteran family advocate would help achieve stronger outcomes for Australia’s veterans and their families.

“I congratulate Gwen on her appointment and look forward to continuing to work with her as she expands on this important work. Her passion and experience in supporting the ex-service community will help to ensure the government continues to put veterans and their families first,” he said.

Cherne was named veteran family advocate and standing commissioner on the Repatriation Commission in August 2020. An Australian War Widow and the mother of a currently serving Defence member, she was appointed to the Council of the Australian War Memorial in 2019. Cherne has also spent seven years working at the Australian Civil-Military Centre as a program manager and assistant director for research.

NSW government movements

NSW MP John Sidoti has resigned following the Independent Commission Against Corruption’s announcement that it will hold a public inquiry into his property dealings.

John Sidoti

Sidoti was sports minister for the state, but stood aside more than a year ago while ICAC conducted a preliminary investigation into his involvement in developments around Five Dock, in Sydney.

In a statement on Wednesday, Premier Gladys Berejiklian said an announcement from ICAC that morning had prompted her “to seek his resignation”.

Sidoti will move to the crossbench, and acting sport minister Geoff Lee will remain in the role until a permanent appointment is made.

Meanwhile, as previously reported in The Mandarin, outgoing Sydney Metro chief executive Dr Jon Lamonte will start as head of New Zealand organisation Watercare on April 6. The announcement of his appointed came just days after the NSW government revealed his decision to leave Sydney Metro.

Read more: Outgoing Sydney Metro boss Jon Lamonte to head NZ water utility


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