South Australia’s public service medals — Australia Day 2016


Three South Australian public servants were awarded Public Service Medals this Australia Day.

Below are the full official biographies for the awardees working for the Commonwealth, which accompanies the full national list of PSM winners.

The Public Service Medal recognises outstanding service by employees of the Australian government and state, territory and local government employees. ‘Outstanding service’ could be shown through:

  • service excellence to the public, or to external or internal clients;
  • innovation in programme, project or policy development;
  • leadership, including as a member of a team; or
  • the achievement of more efficient processes, improved productivity or better service delivery.

Dr Paul Edwin PIGOU
Aberfoyle Park SA 5159
For outstanding public service in the area of forensic science and achievement towards public safety.

Dr Pigou has made a major contribution to forensic chemistry in South Australia and nationally for over twenty years, His cutting-edge research into illicit drugs, clandestine laboratories, explosives and chemical warfare agents has been widely recognised and has directly improved forensic analysis capabilities across Australia and internationally. He has a particular interest in clandestine laboratories used to manufacture illicit drugs, such as ‘ice’ and ‘ecstasy’, and is a national scientific leader in this field. The South Australian response to these laboratories is well organised and technically proficient, due in no small part to his leadership, vision and high scientific standards. His efforts have assisted law enforcement agencies to better understand and target chemicals used in illicit drug manufacture, ultimately improving court outcomes. Of particular note is his research into two previously unknown amphetamine manufacturing methods involving uncontrolled chemicals, which resulted in him providing training at international workshops. His specialised knowledge of explosives has contributed to national counter-terrorism capabilities and he has provided expert scientific evidence integral to investigating and delivering justice in some of the State’s most high-profile crimes, such as the 1994 National Crime Authority bombing and the 2006 Gladstone explosion. He is also an exceptional educator, having mentored and trained numerous chemists in South Australia, and taught hundreds of University students. His lectures to the SA Police provide investigators with the ability to safely dismantle clandestine laboratories and, as the State’s foremost resource for the analysis and identification of chemical warfare agents, he provides training to emergency services personnel. Dr Pigou’s achievements are a result of his commitment and dedication to his profession, and he is an outstanding example of a committed and selfless public servant.

Ms Nerida Michelle SAUNDERS
Cumberland Park SA 5041
For outstanding public service in the provision of leadership and advocacy in the area of Aboriginal Affairs and Reconciliation.

Throughout her career Ms Saunders has demonstrated outstanding service in the delivery of strategic advice on a diverse range of Aboriginal Affairs matters. Through her exemplary leadership, the South Australian Government has identified and developed innovative policies and strategies that build on community capacity and have resulted in sustained improvements for Aboriginal South Australians. She led the consultation process, review and implementation of the new Aboriginal Lands Trust Act 2013, including overseeing a process to establish a new Aboriginal board focused on economic priorities and management of a land base of 64 titles to properties, comprising well over half a million hectares of land across regional, remote and metropolitan South Australia. She was also instrumental in the completion of the first phase of the review and implementation of the Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara Land Rights Act 1981. This included selection of the review consultation panel and coordination of community consultations in remote areas of the APY Lands. She has also undertaken significant work on the first phase of the Aboriginal Heritage Act 1988 review and consultation processes involving senior executives, major stakeholders and the Aboriginal community of South Australia. She has also had a pivotal role in shaping agency Reconciliation Action Plans, actively supports constitutional amendment to recognise Aboriginal South Australians within the Constitution Act 1934, and led the consultation process to initialise the Aboriginal Regional Authority Policy. This innovative policy supports the development of capable and accountable Aboriginal regional governance across the state that strengthens Aboriginal communities and promotes improved wellbeing for Aboriginal peoples. She has been a strong voice for Aboriginal people, having earned the trust and respect of a broad spectrum of the community. Ms Saunders has been a constant force in Aboriginal Affairs in South Australia for many years and is a proven leader of distinction.

Ms Kathryn VAN SCHAIK
Maitland SA 5573
For outstanding public service in the area of early childhood services, with a particular focus on service provision in South Australia.

Ms Van Schaik is a dedicated, passionate professional with over 35 years of experience in public and private sectors of early childhood services. She is an inspiring leader both in her work life and community, able to develop and motivate others to achieve targets, and manage projects from conception to completion. She is responsible for initiating, developing and supporting high quality child care services in South Australia, in particular across country South Australia, and has been instrumental in forging collaboration and respect between Childcare, Pre-school and Early Intervention Services, with children as the central focus. In the 1980s child care was rare and undervalued in regional South Australia. She has championed the importance of child care and cultivated an acceptance for the need for early learning programs. Her passion to see an increase in the number, quality and networking of sustainable services for young children and families has resulted in a range of important initiatives. These include the establishment and expansion of child care services for the Yorke Peninsula area, establishment of new ‘in venue care’ services in three locations in regional South Australia, and investigation of models of care appropriate to meet the needs of smaller communities. The successful implementation of these, and other, initiatives required significant promotion and effort to engage community support. While it is now expected that childcare services will be available in regional areas, this was not always the case. It is due in large part to her efforts and contributions, and the demand for increased services is testament to the importance of her achievements. Ms Van Schaik’s contribution to Early Childhood Services across South Australia is vast, and her passion and dedication to continually seek to provide the highest level of quality child care for all South Australian children and their families is always at the forefront of her thinking and working.

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