Movers & shakers: Bruniges secures two more years as Education secretary

By Shannon Jenkins

March 25, 2021

The latest senior public sector appointments from across the country.

Senior Executive Service

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Michele Bruniges

Dr Michele Bruniges has been reappointed as secretary of the Department of Education, Skills and Employment for a further two years.

Bruniges has held the role since 2016. She requested the two-year extension so she could finalise her term as chair of the OECD’s Programme for International Student Assessment Governing Board, according to the prime minister.

Over the course of the next two years, Bruniges will also see through the implementation of the New Employment Services Model, which is expected to be rolled out from mid-2022.

Nadia Bouhafs

Bruniges has previously led the ACT Department of Education, and has held senior roles in the former federal Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations.

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Nadia Bouhafs has been appointed assistant secretary at the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment.

Lynda Milde has been named national manager at Services Australia.

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

Diplomatic appointments

Foreign affairs minister Marise Payne has announced four new diplomatic appointments.

Felicity Volk

Felicity Volk has been appointed as Australia’s next ambassador to Nepal, replacing Peter Budd. Volk is a career officer with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, and was most recently director, New Colombo Plan Secretariat. She has previously served overseas in Vientiane and Dhaka.

David Yardley has been named as Australia’s next high commissioner to Kiribati. A DFAT career officer, Yardley was most recently counsellor at Australia’s Mission to the United Nations, New York. He previously served overseas in Kabul, and on secondment in the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office, London. He replaces Bruce Cowled.

Sarah Kirlew is Australia’s next consul-general in Chennai, replacing Susan Grace. She is a career officer with DFAT and has previously served overseas in Beijing, New Delhi and Cairo. In Canberra she has worked in a range of Indo-Pacific focused foreign and economic policy roles within the department, including on Australia’s strategy for the Indo-Pacific and geo-economic issues.

And Paul Wojciechowski has been appointed as Australia’s next ambassador to Afghanistan, replacing Geoff Tooth. Wojciechowski is a senior career officer with DFAT, and was most recently assistant secretary, COVID-19 Coordination Unit. He previously served as the Australian ambassador to Poland, and earlier in Embassies in Brussels, Jakarta and Seoul.

IPAA Victoria

Nina Cullen has been appointed CEO of IPAA Victoria, starting in May. She replaces David Ali, who has taken on the role of CEO of Motor Neurone Disease Australia.

Nina Cullen

IPAA Victoria president John Bradley said Cullen brings a “wealth of experience in values-based leadership and the delivery of significant legislative and policy reform, program development, governance of statutory entities, and partnerships with communities and volunteers”.

Cullen moved from her role of executive director, strategy and performance in the state Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning to assist the pandemic response effort as executive director, COVID-19 response at the state Department of Health.

IPAA Victoria chief operating officer Karina Posanzini will continue to act as CEO until Cullen commences.

Bradley has thanked Ali for his “commitment and tireless approach to achieving the best outcomes for IPAA Victoria and the sector”.

Fair Work Commission

Sophie Mirabella

Former Liberal MP Sophie Mirabella is one of five new commissioners to be appointed to the Fair Work Commission, according to the Australian Financial Review.

Mirabella was a lawyer before representing the Victorian seat of Indi between 2001 and 2013. Since then, she has served on the board of the Australian Submarine Corporation, and held the role of general manager of government and media relations at Gina Rinehardt’s company Hancock Prospecting.

Shadow minister for industrial relations Tony Burke has criticised the appointment as “blatantly political”.



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