WA names new Attorney General's DG, but DPC appointments still waiting

By David Donaldson

November 24, 2016

The West Australian government has announced a new director general of the Department of the Attorney General, eleven months after then-DG Cheryl Gwilliam departed for Canberra.

Dr Adam Tomison will take the reins from acting-DG Pauline Bagdonavicius on December 12 for a five-year appointment.

Tomison previously spent six years as director and chief executive at the Australian Institute of Criminology, after which he was a consultant in the child protection and justice sectors.

Adam Tomison. Source: Linkedin.
Adam Tomison.

Attorney General Michael Mischin said Tomison’s knowledge and experience in the justice and criminology sectors would be invaluable in overseeing the department, which manages Western Australia’s extensive court system.

“Dr Tomison is an internationally recognised expert in the field of violence prevention and has well established credentials as a strong organisational leader, having successfully led the AIC through a number of reforms to improve its operations,” he said.

“He is an experienced public servant who has worked with indigenous communities on health, welfare and justice issues, which will serve him well in his new role, particularly as the Liberal National Government implements a raft of measures to reduce the over-representation of Aboriginals in incarceration.”

From 2004 to 2008 he held various senior executive positions within the Northern Territory Department of Health and Families, including as Director of NT Family and Children’s Services (statutory child protection and family support services). In 2006-07 he was the expert adviser (and Director of Policy and Research) for the ‘Little Children are Sacred’ NT Inquiry into the Protection of Aboriginal Children from Sexual Abuse.

Tomison holds a Bachelor of Science, Honours in Psychology and a Doctorate in Philosophy.

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 in January. She had held the WA role since 2007.

It hasn’t yet been 11 months for another high profile WA public service vacancy — a permanent replacement for Department of Premier and Cabinet chief Peter Conran — but it is unusual that a premier would be without a permanent DG. Conran announced his retirement in April this year after a long career in heading departments in the Commonwealth and Northern Territory governments.

David Smith, a deputy director general in DPC, has been acting in the WA public service top job since August.

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