Movers & shakers: new managers at Services Australia, major promotion at PM&C

By Jackson Graham

Friday October 1, 2021

The latest senior public sector appointments from across the country.

The latest senior public sector appointments from across the country.

Senior Executive Service

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William Story has received a promotion at the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet to first assistant secretary. 

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Paula Brewer

The Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment has promoted Laura Timmins and Mahani Taylor to assistant secretary positions. 

Paula Brewer has been promoted from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade to chief people officer at the National Indigenous Australians Agency

Jonathan Bray

The Department of Health has promoted Jonathan Bray to assistant secretary.

Penny Damianakis, Samantha Holcombe and Sharon Nokelainen have been promoted at Services Australia to national manager roles.

Meiling Southwell-Lee has received a promotion to become branch manager at the Australian Research Council

The Australian Institute of Family Studies has promoted Michael Alexander corporate services deputy director, and Mary Radin received a promotion at the Department of Home Affairs to commander. 

New chief at Digital Transformation Agency

The federal government has appointed Christopher Fechner as ceo of the Digital Transformation Agency for five years. 

Christopher Fechner 

Fechner is currently the Queensland government’s chief customer and digital officer and was previously the chief digital and product officer at Service New South Wales.

Employment, workforce, skills, small and family business minister Stuart Robert said Fechner would oversee the government’s  ambition to become one of the top three digital governments in the world by 2025. 

I also thank the Acting CEO, Mr Peter Alexander, for his strong and effective leadership of the DTA in recent months. Once again, I place on record my gratitude for the contribution of former CEO Mr Randall Brugeaud,” Robert said.

Former policy director heads alliance for women’s safety 

Renee Hamilton has started in her role as the new chief executive officer of the National Women’s Safety Alliance.

She comes to the role after formerly being safety and wellbeing policy director at Universities Australia, where she made women’s safety on campus a key priority for the higher education sector.

Renee Hamilton

Hamilton has successfully worked with state-based rape crisis and prevention units, ANROWS, Our Watch, the Department of Social Services and has consulted on the national plan to reduce violence against women and their children. 

She said it was an honour to be appointed and looked forward to fostering strong relationships across the sector, to enable meaningful consultation on the national plan and establish a strong advocacy agenda. 

“My first actions as CEO will be to engage with subject matter experts, peak bodies, organisations working to prevent and end violence against women, and people with lived experience of violence, to develop the membership base of the alliance,” Hamilton said. 

Frances Crimmins, CEO of YWCA Canberra which auspices the alliance, congratulated Hamilton and commended her “strong track record in delivering outcomes in the women’s safety space”.

Leader to head national infrastructure advisory team

David Tucker

David Tucker will lead Infrastructure Australia’s new project advisory and evaluation team.

Tucker, an employee at the agency since 2018, will oversee a newly formed area after the infrastructure assessment and infrastructure prioritisation teams merged. 

The team is responsible for evolving the Infrastructure Australia assessment framework and maintaining the infrastructure priority list, which is a national pipeline of investment priorities. It conducts evaluations for proposals seeking more than $250 million in Australian government funding.

Tucker recently led a major refresh of the assessment framework, and will continue his role in overseeing the priority list. He has spent more than 16 years working at some of Australia’s top-tier consulting firms. 

Managing feral cats and foxes after fires

As reported in The Mandarin this week, Gillian Basnett is Australia’s  first national feral cat and fox management co-ordinator. 

Gillian Basnett

Basnett, a Tasmanian who’s worked in over half of Australia’s states and territories and most recently facilitated fire management program Red Hot Tips, will guide farmers, agencies and landcare groups’ efforts to save native wildlife and protect farmland.

Her role is part of a $811,000 commitment from the federal government to the Centre for Invasive Species Solutions and is targeted at managing feral cats and foxes in habitats razed by the Black Summer bushfires in Australia’s south-eastern states. 

“Not only did we lose species [in the fires] but it meant the vegetation changed and we lost a lot of that understory that protects species,” Basnett said. “It allows for a greater rate of predation in those burnt areas as species try to re-establish.” 

Women in majority on state government’s business boards

More than half of members on Queensland government business boards are women, with the figure now reaching 54%. 

Jane McTaggart

Women this month made up 15 of 24 new board appointments, which the government says is a record for Queensland.

Three of the new appointees will become the new chairs of their organisation, including Ann Sherry AO with Port of Townsville, Lisa Caffery with Sunwater, and Jane McTaggart with North Queensland Bulk Ports. 

Queensland’s acting treasurer and investment minister, Grace Grace, said the representation reflected a modern state. 

New appointments also included Susan MacDonald at the Queensland Investment Corporation, Kara Keys at Powerlink, Abi Cheadle and Ryl Gardner at Gladstone Ports Corporation, Tess Bishop and Danielle O’Toole at Port of Townsville, Marianna O’Gorman at Stanwell, and Leeha James at Sunwater. 

Rising to deputy role at tribunal

Anne Britton will be the new deputy president of the NSW Civil & Administrative Tribunal (NCAT) and head of its guardian division. 

Britton is presently a principal member in the administrative and equal opportunity division.

Ms Britton has held a number of leadership roles through her professional life, and is chair of the national branch of the Council of Australasian Tribunal. 

She’s due to commence in her new NCAT role on October 5. 

Trio to stay on racing board

The Victorian government has reappointed Sharon McCrohan, Brian Kruger and Ross Lanyon to the Racing Victoria board. 

The trio, all joining the board in 2017, will serve on the racing body for a further four years.

McCrohan has been a communications director in the Office of the Premier of Victoria and been a board member at Traffic Accident Commission and the Ovarian Cancer Research Foundation.

Kruger was previously vice-chair and treasurer of the Moonee Valley Racing Club and has had executive positions at businesses Toll Holdings and BlueScope Steel.

Lanyon was a former chair of Country Racing Victoria and has a newspaper business background. 

Victorian racing minister Martin Pakula said in a statement that he was delighted the trio would continue on the board. 

“The RV board has shown determination and skill in meeting the extraordinary challenges of the past 18 months,” Pakula said. “It has meant that racing has continued, horses have been cared for and thousands of people have kept their jobs.”

The minister has also reappointed Greyhound Racing Victoria deputy chair Emmett Dunne and board member Marika McMahon.

The duo first joined the board in 2016. Dunne’s previous career was as a police officer across four decades, and McMahon has worked in the legal profession since 1995, working as a Bendigo-based family law specialist.

“The GRV board has driven significant change and industry improvements, and leaders like Emmett and Marika have an important role to play as the code continues to develop and grow,” Pakula said. 

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