Top WA mandarin jumps ship to Canberra adviser

By David Donaldson

Monday January 25, 2016

Cheryl Gwilliam
Cheryl Gwilliam

One of Western Australia’s top bureaucrats has made the jump into the federal sphere — and a ministerial office.

Cheryl Gwilliam, the long-time director-general of the WA Department of the Attorney-General, started as chief of staff to Social Services Minister — and former WA Treasurer — Christian Porter earlier this month.

Gwilliam, who is currently on leave without pay from the department, has held the position of DG at the DotAG since August 2007. Her current contract is due to end in August 2017.

Pauline Bagdonavicius, WA’s public advocate, is acting director-general.

Gwilliam has had a long career in public sector management. She worked for Porter as DG during his time as WA attorney-general from 2008-12, and was reappointed by him in his final year as AG. Before that she was in charge of the Department of Local Government and Regional Development for six years, CEO of the State Supply Commission, director at Contract and Management Services and executive director at Commerce and Trade.

Last year she was awarded the patrons award, WA’s highest public sector accolade, and named an IPAA fellow. In announcing her name for the former, the judges stated Gwilliam had left her mark on the sector through strong contributions in various senior positions that will stand the test of time:

“Her extensive experience in senior management positions throughout the public sector has enabled Cheryl to make significant contributions in the areas of management, employment, public sector efficiency, public administration, and organisational development and governance.”

She holds a Master of Industrial Relations, Bachelor of Economics and Bachelor of Arts (Politics) all from the University of Western Australia.

Bagdonavicius’ previous job as public advocate involved promoting and protecting the human rights of adults with decision-making disabilities. She has worked as a nurse and social worker and held executive director positions at the Departments for Child Protection, Community Development and Family and Children’s Services.

Previously she held executive responsibility for the team which developed the legislation for working with children checks and was involved with a number of high-level advisory committees, including the Ministerial Advisory Council on Child Protection, the Supported Accommodation Assistance Program State Advisory Committee and the Children and Young People in Care Advisory Committee.

The government has not yet begun advertising to replace Gwilliam.

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