Movers & Shakers: expert to chair WHO advisory group, deputy secretary’s focus on Aboriginal engagement

By Jackson Graham

Friday November 5, 2021

M&S November 5
The latest senior public sector appointments from across the country.

The latest senior public sector appointments from across the country

Senior Executive Service
Band 1 

Richard Emerson-Elliott has become a service senior executive at the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade

David McNally has become an assistant secretary at the Department of Health

James Mason has received a promotion at the Attorney-General’s Department

Disaster expert to lead WHO emergency medicine advice group

Australian disaster response expert professor Leonard Notaras will chair a World Health Organisation group that advises on emergency medicine.

Leonard Notaras

Notaras is currently the executive director of the Darwin-based National Critical Care and Trauma Response Centre, and has world-leading experience in responding to incidents including the Bali bombings and the Ashmore Reef disaster. 

The NCCTRC, funded by both the Australian and Northern Territory governments, coordinates and deploys the Australian Medical Assistance Team and provides training and research opportunities for national and international disasters. The teams are deployed internationally and domestically when there are disasters, including bushfires and to respond to COVID-19. 

Notaras said he was honoured to have been nominated and appointed to the role at the World Health Organisation, officially titled the emergency medical team strategic advisory group chair. 

Notaras replaces outgoing chair and Swiss humanitarian Toni Frisch.

“Ambassador Frisch played a critical role in guiding the EMT initiative and I am honoured that I have been appointed to steer this important work for the next two years,” Notaras said.

“The EMT initiative plays an important role in the global health workforce and the COVID‑19 pandemic has demonstrated the value of continuing to ensure teams have training and equipment, are self-sufficient, credentialed and meet the necessary standards for emergency deployment.”

New deputy secretary aspires to ‘transform’ Aboriginal perceptions of department

Brendan Thomas

Wiradjuri man Brendan Thomas will lead NSW’s government division, which is dedicated to improving Aboriginal outcomes in criminal justice, child protection and housing.

Thomas officially starts in the role, titled deputy secretary of transforming aboriginal outcomes, at the Department of Communities and Justice on Monday. 

As a first step, Thomas plans to improve how the department engages with Aboriginal communities. 

“I’ve been given a huge role to undertake – one that is more than 200 years in the making,” Thomas said.

“DCJ touches so many Aboriginal lives in so many ways. This means it has the potential to divert people away from prison, and to ensure women and children are safe in their homes.

“The only way we can make a difference is to change our systems, embrace and engage with Aboriginal communities and transform their perception of DCJ.”

He has been CEO of Legal Aid since 2017 and previously served as the deputy secretary in the former Department of Justice. 

Inaugural members join Aboriginal Justice Advisory Committee

Nine members have formed WA’s new Aboriginal Justice Advisory Committee as the state government selects a spread of talent from across cities, regional and remote areas. 

Gina Hill

The committee will provide cultural advice and guidance on justice issues.

It will also help identify and suggest improvements to initiatives, policies and strategies to help the Department of Justice achieve better outcomes for Aboriginal people.

They will also support the department through reciprocal expertise and knowledge sharing with Aboriginal people, communities and other government agencies.

The appointees are Merle Carter, Jacob Collard, Mitchell Drage, Joslyn Eades-Tass, Daniel English, George Hayden, Justin Kickett, Kylie Le Lievre and Ella Smith.

Department of Justice director-general Dr Adam Tomison will chair the committee and Gina Hill, Aboriginal Justice Transformation director, will provide secretariat support.

The members will serve until September 30, 2023.

Environment watchdog gets new chief investigator

Ernestina Di Marco
Ernestina Di Marco

As reported by The Mandarin this week, Ernestina Di Marco will head Victoria’s Environment Protection Authority frontline team as chief investigator.

She will lead a team of 40 investigators in an environmental crime branch that includes surveillance experts, environmental protection officers, intelligence analysts, criminal investigators and prosecutors.

Di Marco has spent nearly two decades in investigator roles with Australian Federal Police and the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission, and recently worked at Emergency Management Victoria. 

“I look forward to working collaboratively with our partners to drive continuous improvement across waste crime disruption and prevention,” Di Marco said. 

The appointment comes as the EPA goes finalises a transformation that has seen its workforce double after Victoria’s new Environment Protection Act came into force in July. 

New manager responsible for space agency policy

Chris Hewett
Chris Hewett

Chris Hewett is the new general manager of strategy and industry growth at the Australian Space Agency.

His career in government began in national security and he has experience in space technology stretching back 15 years. Previously he had senior executive service roles at the Department of Defence, and the Department of Finance. 

He is responsible for the space agency’s policy development and coordination, as well as facilitating growth in the industry and oversees teams responsible for agency operations. 

Leader returns to Australia to head state investment fund

Breakthrough Victoria’s new chief executive officer is Grant Dooley, a former trade official who has also managed large infrastructure investments across the Asia-Pacific region. 

Grant Dooley

Dooley has returned from Singapore, where formerly he headed ARA Infrastructure, to now manage the $2 billion Breakthrough Victoria Fund. 

The fund drives investment in key industry sectors such as health and life sciences, agri-food, advanced manufacturing, clean economy and digital technologies.

Dooley has also worked at the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, including as the Australian Consul General in Guangzhou, southern China from 2010-12.

“I look forward to heading up the Breakthrough Victoria team and working with researchers, founders, businesses and government to create more jobs for Victorians into the future,” he said.

Peak-uni group appoints communications professional

Universities Australia has appointed Jenny Clark as executive director of strategic communications. 

She has held a range of roles in government and business in the past two decades, including most recently as leader of communications and government relations at the Business Council of Australia. 

Prior to that she was an assistant secretary of communications at Treasury and a senior media adviser to prime minister Malcolm Turnbull, among other public positions. She will take up the new role in February 2022. 

Universities Australia Chief Executive Catriona Jackson said the appointment would help the university sector’s voice have “maximum impact in the right places”. 

State’s first property services commissioner 

John Minns is NSW’s first property services commissioner and a role that will engage with the real estate industry, regulators and consumers. 

The role is akin to the state’s building commissioner, tasked with reforming the sector and reporting to expert panels and the government to drive changes. 

Minns has 25 years of experience as a real estate business owner and agent.

His most recent role was at Canberra-based Independent Property Group, where he served as managing director, and was a previous Director of Academy of Real Estate Services. 

“At a time of unprecedented change and rapid digital transformation, I am looking forward to working with leaders across the industry to deliver improved consumer outcomes, a vibrant and sustainable NSW property sector and continued innovation,” Minns said.

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