Movers & shakers: Workplace Gender Equality Agency appoints director

By Shannon Jenkins

April 23, 2021

movers and shakers
The latest senior public sector appointments from across the country. (Image: The Mandarin)

The latest senior public sector appointments from across the country.

Senior Executive Service

Band 2

Benjamin Burdon has been appointed as group manager, program, performance and delivery group at the National Indigenous Australians Agency.

Band 1

Thomas Menadue has taken on a Band 1 role at the Department of Defence.

Sophie Pearce has been named assistant secretary at the Department of Home Affairs.

Joanne Hase and Jacqui Houghton have been named national managers at Services Australia.

Andrew Patterson has been appointed as assistant secretary at the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment.

Jennifer Humphrys has been as branch manager, policy analysis and reporting at the Department of Social Services.


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


Workplace Gender Equality Agency

Mary Wooldridge

Former Liberal minister Mary Wooldridge has been appointed as director of the Workplace Gender Equality Agency .

Wooldridge has served in a number of roles in Victorian Parliament, including as mental health and community services minister, disability services and reform minister, and minister for women’s affairs.

Her achievements include working to implement the National Plan to Reduce Violence against Women and their Children 2010-2022 in Victoria, and establishing the Commission for Children and Young People, and Australia’s first commissioner for Aboriginal children and young people. Wooldridge has also worked for a number of private sector and charitable organisations.

Announcing the appointment this week, minister for women Marise Payne said Wooldridge would play a key role in promoting and improving gender equality in Australian workplaces.

“This will include understanding the drivers of the gender pay gap and developing tools for workplaces to better prevent and respond to workplace sexual harassment,” Payne said.

“WGEA will also work with the Respect@Work Council to progress measures as part of the Australian government’s A Roadmap for Respect: Preventing and Addressing Sexual Harassment in Australian Workplaces.”

Payne thanked outgoing director Libby Lyons for her “invaluable contribution to the improvement of gender equality in the workplace”.


Read more: Respect@Work: experts ask, who’ll do the heavy lifting?


NSW Premier’s Office

Director of strategy at the Office of NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian, Ehssan Veiszadeh, is leaving government to join the Committee for Sydney as deputy CEO and director of strategy.

Ehssan Veiszadeh

Veiszadeh has been a senior member of Berejiklian’s team since 2015, and has provided strategic advice to government on issues such as COVID-19, major asset transactions, and emergencies such as bushfires and floods.

In his new role — starting May 31 — Veiszadeh will be responsible for driving engagement, strategy and implementation of the committee’s work.

Veiszadeh said that while he was sad to be leaving government, he was looking forward to a new challenge.

“I’m excited to be joining the Committee for Sydney after six incredible years of working for Gladys Berejiklian and the NSW government,” he said.

“The committee has a big ambition to make Sydney the best city in the world — an ambition I share and am thrilled to help make a reality. All global cities are envious of Sydney’s ability to keep COVID-19 under control while keeping the economy open. Now is the time to build on those wins and take our city to the next level.”

Committee chief executive Gabriel Metcalf said he was thrilled to welcome Veiszadeh to the team.

“We’ve worked together over a number of years and I know Ehssan’s skills, experience and relationships will help us translate the committee’s work into real world change by getting government and others to engage with and adopt our ideas,” Metcalf said.

“We’re incredibly ambitious about the potential to make Sydney even better, and this recruitment is a critical step in building our capacity to move policy ideas into real world implementation.”

NSW Aboriginal Languages Trust

Clare McHugh has been named executive director of the Aboriginal Languages Trust.

Clare McHugh

A proud Gamilaroi and Dhungutti woman, McHugh will lead the work of the trust in revitalising and nurturing Aboriginal languages across NSW.

She was previously CEO of the National Centre of Indigenous Excellence, and has also held senior roles at the NSW Aboriginal Land Council.

Aboriginal affairs minister Don Harwin said McHugh would help the organisation build “the strong foundations needed to see Aboriginal languages grow and thrive in NSW”.

Trust board chair Jason Behrendt said the board looked forward to working with McHugh to ensure the organisation achieves the aspirational goals contained in its strategic plan.

“The board is excited to have someone of Clare’s experience and community standing in this critical role. We look forward to working with her to support, empower and partner with Aboriginal communities, and to connect with government and other organisations involved with our languages,” he said.

Vic Office For Women In Sport And Recreation

Sarah Styles has been appointed as director of the Office for Women in Sport and Recreation in Victoria, starting on May 3.

Sarah Styles

Styles has previously worked as an investment banker, and business owner, and is currently a director of Gender Equity Victoria. As Cricket Australia’s inaugural head of female engagement, she led a range of initiatives to increase women and girls’ involvement and inclusion in cricket.

Most recently she worked as a strategic advisor to Sport Australia and the Australian Institute of Sport on its ‘Women Leading Sport’ initiative, which aims to significantly increase the representation and success of women in leadership positions in Australian sport.

Community sport minister Ros Spence said Styles’ achievements show what is possible in sport and in active recreation as a whole.

“I’m delighted to announce that Sarah Styles will head up this critical office – she understands how sport works, and the critical role that business plays in supporting sport and driving change,” Spence said.

“I thank Dr Bridie O’Donnell for her leadership over the past few years. She has helped smash gender stereotypes and deliver opportunities for Victorian women — we wouldn’t be where we are today without her tireless work.”

Vic Food Relief Taskforce

Victorian Transport Association CEO Peter Anderson has been appointed as independent chair of a new specialist Food Relief Taskforce.

Peter Anderson

Senior representatives of the food relief sector, peak bodies and key government officers will form the taskforce to advise on key strategies and initiatives to strengthen Victoria’s food relief system, according to disability, ageing and carers minister Luke Donnellan.

“The Food Relief Taskforce will be instrumental in ensuring our food relief system is effective and reaching all Victorians struggling to put food on the table,” he said.

Donnellan noted that Anderson’s expertise in transport and logistics would be invaluable in building a stronger and more responsive food relief system

Five designated regional food relief hubs will also be established to increase food relief storage and distribution services in regional Victoria. The hubs will work with Foodbank Victoria to strengthen links with suppliers and coordinate efforts to get food to those who need it.

Qld Parliamentary Friends of First Nations People

Cynthia Lui

Queensland has formed the Parliamentary Friends of First Nations People, a non-partisan group that aims to work towards reconciliation.

The group, which held its first meeting this week, is co-chaired by:

  • Minister for communities and housing, member for Algester and proud Quandamooka woman Leeanne Enoch,
  • Member for Cook and proud Kulkalgal woman from the Torres Strait Cynthia Lui,
  • Member for Bundamba and Gubbi Gubbi man Lance McCallum,
  • Minister for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander partnerships Craig Crawford,
  • Member for Southport Rob Molhoek,
  • Member for Noosa Sandy Bolton.

Enoch said the group would provide a safe, respectful space to explore Queensland’s collective past and gather knowledge to help understand the future.

Leeanne Enoch

“As governments across the nation work to Close the Gap, and Queensland begins our Path to Treaty, it’s more important than ever to foster constructive, non-partisan conversations across Parliament and seek common ground based on a shared understanding,” she said.

The formation of the group is a first in Queensland, and NSW is the only other state to have a similar Parliamentary group.

For the first time in history, Queensland currently has three First Nations people holding seats in the Queensland Parliament at the same time, Lui noted.

“We’ve come a long way, but there is still more work to do, and this is what the Parliamentary Friends of First Nations People will achieve. We will put politics aside to help work towards a more inclusive and shared future,” she said.

A Treaty Advancement Committee has also been appointed, with co-chairs Dr Jackie Huggins and Mick Gooda, and committee members Emeritus Professor Michael Lavarch, Dr Josephine Bourne, and Sallyanne Atkinson.

Australian Rail Track Corporation

Warren Truss

Former deputy prime minister Warren Truss has been reappointed as chair of the Australian Rail Track Corporation (ARTC).

Deputy prime minister Michael McCormack said Truss has been a “driving force” in the delivery of government infrastructure investments, and has, in his past roles, “had a vision for regional rail and an acute understanding of the needs of regional communities”.

Finance minister Simon Birmingham said Truss’s continued leadership would be essential as Inland Rail transitions from planning and design to construction.

“Under Mr Truss’s leadership ARTC will be well positioned to deliver this world class infrastructure through continuity in overseeing the operation of Australia’s critical freight rail network,” he said.

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