Movers & shakers: NSW Department of Premier and Cabinet to get a new secretary in October

By Melissa Coade

July 16, 2021

The latest senior public sector appointments from across the country.

Senior Executive Service 

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Gaia Puleston

Gaia Pulestonfrom the Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources, has been promoted to assistant secretary, while the department’s Erika Taduran has been assigned to general manager of enabling services.

At the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Bridie Rushton, Benjamin Playle, Emily Follett, Emily Roper and Madeleine Moss have been promoted to assistant secretaries.

A suite of branch manager promotions have been made at the Department of Social Services, with Alexander Abel assigned to study and compliance, Elizabeth Cremen to community cohesion, Jacqueline Hrast to disability and carer reform, Kristen Owen overseeing portfolio governance, and Catherine Nelson to the new branch manager for hub operations.

Secretary for NSW Department of Premier and Cabinet

Jim Betts

Jim Betts will be appointed as secretary of the NSW P&C from October. He joins from the Department of Planning, Industry and Environment, where he is currently serving as secretary since 2019.

Prior to that Betts was the CEO of Infrastructure NSW for six years, where he led the development of the 2014 state infrastructure strategy update and the 2018 state infrastructure strategy, that recommended more than 200 projects and policies for the government. He also previously led the Victorian Department of Transport for five years. 

A statement from NSW premier Gladys Berejiklian noted that Betts would be ‘an invaluable addition to the team’ given his deep experience in senior public sector roles. 

He brings with him a broad range of experience and expertise that make him a clear choice to lead the NSW public service,” the premier said.

Betts will replace outgoing secretary Tim Reardon, who will return to the private sector. A replacement for Betts’ secretary position with planning, industry and the environment will be announced at a later date. 

Queensland State Archives

Butchulla woman Rose Barrowcliffe has been named the inaugural First Nations archives advisor for the Queensland State Archives.

Barrowcliffe is currently researching the representation of Indigenous people in archives and historical narratives at the University of the Sunshine Coast. Her appointment was announced by Queensland’s digital economy minister Leeanne Enoch, who described the academic as ‘the perfect candidate for the role’. 

Rose Barrowcliffe

Enoch said that many First Nations perspectives were absent from historical government records, meaning the historical narrative was missing important voices.

“Queensland State Archives holds the evidence of our uncomfortable shared past and has a crucial role to play in supporting the Path to Treaty’s commitment to truth telling,” the minister said. 

“It is our duty to not shy away from these truths, but to hear and learn from them, so we can continue on the path towards healing.”

Barrowcliffe said her new appointment presented exciting challenges and opportunities, and that the role aligned well with her doctoral research. She promised to participate in this work, acknowledging the complexity of being asked to represent such a diverse community. 

“Truth-telling is a crucial step to moving Queensland forward in a way that respects Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders as its First Peoples, and archives need to play a key part in that process,” Barrowcliffe said. 

“It is always a challenge to be asked to be a representative of such a large and diverse group of people.

“This is something I will be mindful of as the First Nations Archives Advisor, that the different lived experiences, perspectives and needs need to be brought forward and respected,” she added.

NSW expert panel for student mental health

David Hawes

The University of Sydney’s Associate Professor David Hawes, who works with the university’s child behaviour research clinic, is one of the panel experts the NSW government has named to provide guidance to the state’s teachers on NESA-accredited mental health professional development courses.

Dr Michael Bowden, a NSW Health child and adolescent psychiatrist, and Professor Frank Oberklaid from the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute, have also been named as a panel member. 

Education minister Sarah Mitchell said the panel members comprised mental health academics, researchers and a representative from the early childhood education sector. She said the expert group would ensure development courses accredited by NESA ‘met the highest standards and supported the latest evidence-based research in the field’.

“I want teachers to feel equipped to help their students seek support, and these high quality courses will deliver that, particularly in areas where we know additional support is needed,” Mitchell said.

“The initiative is another positive step towards ensuring teachers are armed with the knowledge and information they need to recognise and refer mental health concerns and assist students and young children with their mental health in mind.”

Teachers in NSW are required to complete 100 hours professional development (over a period of five years), of which at least 50 hours must be NESA accredited courses. NESA courses focus on the priority areas of student/child mental health; school and early childhood curriculum and assessment; students/children with a disability; and Aboriginal education.

Professor Hawes said that any opportunity to give teachers access to evidence-based tools about how to communicate and address mental health in the classroom was welcome.

“Research is constantly emerging about how we can best address student and child mental health and, understandably, the stream of information and opinion can become overwhelming,” Hawes said. 

Professor Oberklaid added that school was an ideal environment to ‘begin building a foundation of wellbeing and resilience’ for children. 

“It’s important that we’re arming teachers with the confidence and knowledge they need to identify the links between mental health and learning, and to guide them around early intervention where appropriate,” Oberklaid said.

Inquiry Into Economic Equity For Victorian Women

Carol Schwartz

Business woman Carol Schwartz has been picked by the Victorian government to lead an independent Inquiry into Economic Equity for women in the state. The inquiry will consider the long-standing, systemic barriers to women’s equality and make recommendations about how to address unequal pay and workplace inequality. It will also focus on ways to address the economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic for women. 

Liberty Sanger and James Fazzino will assist Schwartz on the inquiry panel, and were chosen for their relevant skills and experience in gender equity, law and economics. 

Victoria’s minister for women, Gabrielle Williams, said that the inquiry would offer practical measures to help the government ‘undo systemic inequality which has denied women equal opportunities for too long’.

“As we recover from the coronavirus pandemic, we have an unprecedented opportunity to make permanent changes to the way we live, care and work – to rebuild a fairer, stronger and more equal economy, for everyone,” Williams said. 

The panel has been tasked with delivering a final report to the Victorian minister for women and the treasurer by January 22. The government hopes that the inquiry’s recommendations will guide it to develop a gender responsive budgeting unit within Victoria’s Department of Treasury and Finance.

“We cannot have a strong economy without fully supporting women in the workforce, this is vital for our recovery and continued economic growth,” Victorian treasurer Tim Pallas added.

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