Movers & shakers: former public service leaders take on new roles

By Shannon Jenkins

Friday July 2, 2021

The latest senior public sector appointments from across the country.
The latest senior public sector appointments from across the country.

The latest senior public sector appointments from across the country.

Senior Executive Service

Joe Buffone

Band 2

Joseph Buffone has been appointed first assistant secretary at the Department of Home Affairs. He has been director general of Emergency Management Australia since October. During the height of COVID-19, he was seconded to lead the Victorian Aged Care Response Centre. Buffone has previously held the role of chief officer of the Country Fire Authority. 

Katische Vinning

Band 1

Bridget McAsey has been appointed as senior investment specialist at Austrade.

Katische Vinning has taken on the role of chief information officer at Defence Housing Australia.


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


Diplomatic appointments

Foreign affairs minister Marise Payne has announced a number of diplomatic appointments at the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

Andrea Gleason

Andrea Gleason has been named as Australia’s next consul-general in Honolulu. She is a senior career officer with DFAT, and was most recently deputy head of the Economic Candidacies Taskforce. She has previously served as DFAT’s Western Australia state director, and overseas in Washington DC and Stockholm. She replaces Jane Hardy.

Dr Helen Cheney has been appointed as Australia’s next high commissioner to Nauru. Cheney is a DFAT career officer, who most recently served as director, Regional Trade Agreements Division. She has previously served overseas in Bangkok and Jakarta. In Australia Cheney has had extensive experience in the non-government sector focused on development, sustainable communities and policy research. She replaces Angela Tierney.

Dr Justin Lee is Australia’s next high commissioner to Malaysia. Lee is a senior career officer with DFAT, and was most recently first assistant secretary, Multilateral Policy Division. He has previously served overseas as head of mission in Bangladesh; deputy head of mission in Jakarta; and in Port Moresby. He replaces Andrew Goledzinowski.

Mark Donovan has been named as Australia’s next ambassador to Saudi Arabia. He will also be accredited to Bahrain, Oman and Yemen. A career officer with DFAT, Donovan was most recently deputy head of mission at the Australian Embassy in Amman. He has previously served overseas in Washington DC as political counsellor on Middle East issues. He has also worked in the Office of the Prime Minister, Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, the Department of Immigration and Multicultural Affairs, and the Agriculture portfolio. He replaces Ridwaan Jadwat.

Mark Donovan

Helen Stylianou has been appointed as Australia’s next ambassador for Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC). Stylianou is a senior career officer with DFAT, and is currently first assistant secretary, Trade, Investment and Business Engagement Division. She has previously served overseas in Brussels, Geneva and Vienna.

Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR) CEO Professor Andrew Campbell has had his term extended until July 31, 2023. During his five-year tenure, Campbell has led the development of a 10-year strategy that has transformed ACIAR by increasing investment in the Indo-Pacific and focusing on issues such as food security, gender equality, climate change, nutrition and health. Under Campbell’s leadership, the proportion of women in senior roles at ACIAR had increased from 11% in 2016 to 70% currently. He currently chairs the Global Research Alliance for Agricultural Greenhouse Gases, and represents Australia on the System Council of the CGIAR.

Deputy secretary leads Australian Institute of Health and Welfare

Robert Heferen has been appointed as CEO of the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW).

Rob Heferen

Heferen has more than 30 years’ experience in the public service, with past roles including deputy secretary in the Department of Education, Skills and Employment, the Department of the Environment and Energy, and the Department of Industry, Innovation and Science. He has also held leadership roles at the Australian Tax Office, Treasury and the Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs.

Health minister Greg Hunt has thanked outgoing CEO Barry Sandison.

“Mr Sandison’s contributions have transformed the agency, expanding the suite of products and services and overseeing significant improvements in the way data is presented, making it more accessible and easier to understand,” he said/

“The government congratulates Mr Heferen on his appointment, who we expect will continue this program of reform and improvement, ensuring we have access to authoritative information and statistics to underpin our world-leading health and welfare systems.”

Leon joins Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Steering Committee

Former Department of Human Services secretary Renée Leon has been appointed as chair of the ACT government’s Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Steering Committee.

Renée Leon

Leon has more than 15 years in senior executive roles, including as secretary of the federal Department of Employment, and chief executive of the ACT Justice and Community Safety Directorate. In her new role, Leon will help drive reform in the ACT and advise on key priorities for future work and action by government to prevent sexual assault.

“I am pleased to be appointed chair of the Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Steering Committee, working to broaden the focus of the response to include significant and sustained efforts directed to prevention, as well as support for victims and mechanisms for holding perpetrators to account,” Leon said.

Former senior public servant to lead charity

Australia and New Zealand School of Government (ANZSOG) associate dean Lin Hatfield Dodds has been appointed as CEO of The Benevolent Society.

Lin Hatfield Dodds

Hatfield Dodds was deputy secretary, social policy, in the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet from 2016 to 2019. Prior to that, she was national director of UnitingCare Australia. Hatfield Dodds has all of the attributes needed to lead the longstanding Australian charity into its next phase, according to its chair, Tim Beresford.

“She is a strong systems leader and is highly-skilled in policy and regulation, which will be vital to our new integrated delivery approach across our child, youth and family, disability and ageing services,” he said.

“We have every confidence that Lin will build on The Benevolent Society’s momentum supporting thousands of Australians to live their life their way, by delivering first-rate services and advocating for their needs.”

Hatfield Dodds said she was proud to be a part of shaping the future of the organisation.

“I look forward to working with the board, the staff, and the communities we serve to ensure that Australia is a just society where everyone can live their best life,” she said.

Hatfield Dodds replaces Jo Toohey, and will commence in the role on July 19.

Ex deputy secretary chairs Phillip Island Nature Parks

Kevin Love

Former senior public servant Kevin Love has been appointed chair of the Phillip Island Nature Parks (PINP) Board. Love was formerly deputy secretary of the then Victorian Department of Sustainability and Environment. He has also worked at the former Department of Agriculture and the Department of Premier and Cabinet. He is currently principal of an independent advisory firm.

Three current members, Dr Danielle Auldist, Jane Foley and Michaela Salvato have been reappointed with new members, Jane Jobe, Patrice Mahoney and Dr Geoffrey Wescott. Jobe is an environmentalist, Wescott is a distinguished academic, and Mahoney is a local Aboriginal resident.

The board will guide the management of PINP and the recovery from the significant impacts of the coronavirus pandemic.

Queensland Corrective Services Commissioner

Paul Stewart

Paul Stewart has been appointed as Queensland corrective services commissioner. He was formerly deputy commissioner with the agency’s community corrections and specialist operations.

Stewart has previously served for 10 years as assistant commissioner at Queensland Police Service.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has welcomed the appointment.

“Mr Stewart is a long standing and respected member of the police and corrections sector and will bring his exceptional experience and knowledge to the role,” she said.

“As part of the government’s executive team Mr Stewart will lead a public service committed to providing the highest standard of impartial, evidence-based advice to the minister for corrective services and the government to deliver the best outcomes for Queenslanders.”

Greater Western Water Board

The Victorian government has appointed the new board of directors for Greater Western Water (GWW), with David Middleton named as inaugural chair. The GWW board includes new directors and previous City West Water and Western Water directors.

David Middleton

Middleton has been chair of City West Water for the past six years. The new GWW board includes Western Water directors Llewellyn Prain, Claire Filson and Liza McDonald, and City West Water board directors Bruce Cohen and Tania Fryer.

New members to the board include Matthew Burns, a proud Taungurung man and CEO of Taungurung Land & Waters Council, Efim Tkatchew, an experienced chief financial officer, and Linda White, a skilled lawyer with extensive board expertise.

They will be joined by Maree Lang, who was announced as the inaugural managing director of GWW last month.

“I would like to acknowledge the outgoing directors of Western Water and City West Water for their contribution and commitment to the water sector,” Lang said.

“In particular, I thank Andrew Cairns for his significant contribution as the Western Water chair.”

Zoos Victoria

Rebecca McKenzie

The Victorian government has appointed new Zoos Victoria board members who will oversee the species conservation, protection and education work of Melbourne Zoo, Healesville Sanctuary and Werribee Open Range Zoo.

The board will be chaired by Rebecca McKenzie, who is currently CEO at the City of Glen Eira Council, and has already served one term on the board. She will be joined by Tony Hallam as deputy chairperson. Hallam is a highly experienced executive in a wide variety of business and sporting organisations.

Greg Smith has been reappointed as a member, with new members including Professor Anna Meredith, Dr Jennifer Beer, Marsha Thomson, Dr Teresa De Fazio and Vijaya Vaidyanath.

Dr John Chesterman

Queensland’s Public Advocate

Dr John Chesterman has been appointed as Queensland’s public advocate, while senior government lawyer Shayna Smith has been named as Queensland’s public guardian. Chesterman has extensive experience in the justice and reform system and has previously served as deputy public advocate in Victoria. Smith had acted as public guardian since March 2020, and was previously deputy public guardian.

The state government has thanked Mary Burgess for her five years of service in the role of public advocate.

Queensland government-owned corporations

Karen Lay-Brew

The Queensland government has made a number of appointments to state-owned corporations, including CS Energy, Energy Queensland and Sunwater.

The new appointments include:

  • Christina Sutherland, CS Energy, director,
  • Karen Lay-Brew, Energy Queensland, director,
  • Paul Lucas, Energy Queensland, director,
  • Owen Doogan, North Queensland Bulk Ports Corporation, Board,
  • Stuart Armitage, Sunwater, director.

Dan Hunt has also been extended in his current role as director and chair of Sunwater following his appointment as interim chair in March.

Australian Reinsurance Pool Corporation

The government has appointed Jan van der Schalk and reappointed Elaine Collins as part-time board members of the Australian Reinsurance Pool Corporation (ARPC) for a three-year period.

Elaine Collins

The ARPC was established following the terrorist events that occurred in the US on September 11, 2001, to help protect Australia’s economy from the global withdrawal of terrorism insurance for commercial property.

van der Schalk is an investment specialist with Platinum Asset Management, and has extensive experience in catastrophe reinsurance. Collins has been a member of the ARPC since 2015. She has 30 years’ experience in the insurance industry providing actuarial services to several insurers, and is currently serving as a non-executive director of RT Health, Transport Health, ANZ LMI and Zurich Australia Insurance.

The government said the appointments would ensure the ARPC is ‘well prepared’ to manage the recently announced reinsurance pool for cyclone and related flood damage. It has thanked outgoing members John Peberdy and Janet Torney for their contribution to the ARPC over the past six years.

Queensland Racing

Christopher Edwards

Jodie Jones and Christopher Edwards have been appointed to the Racing Queensland Board, replacing outgoing members Margaret Reynolds and Max Walters.

Jones brings more than 30 years’ harness racing experience, as an owner and breeder of standardbreds and a board member of Harness Racing Australia. Edwards is general manager of capital projects and infrastructure advisory with RPS Group in Brisbane.

Meanwhile, Office of Commissioner director Paul Brown has been appointed as acting commissioner of the Queensland Racing Integrity Commission, with Queensland Police chief superintendent Daryl Johnson named as acting deputy commissioner. The temporary appointments have been made following the departures of Ross Barnett and Mark Ainsworth. Both men will commence in the roles on July 3, until the positions are filled.

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