The executive director of the Northern Territory’s recently merged fire, rescue and emergency services has reportedly been suspended as part of an internal investigation, 18 months after being appointed to the newly created role.
The NT News reports Jennifer Reilly (pictured) was stood down last week, although NT Police, Fire and Emergency Services could only confirm to the newspaper that a senior executive had been suspended as part of an investigation.
Public sector jurisdictions in Australia are diverging on whether it is best practice to come clean when an agency’s top executive is stood down. When the practice was once to hush up such investigations — like the euphemistic term ‘gardening leave’ — now public trust is a less-guaranteed commodity.
The trusted face of NT’s restructured services
Reilly was appointed to the top administrative role in the agency, one rung under commissioner Reece Kershaw, in July 2016. She is an experienced public sector leader with a Master of Public Administration and a qualification from the Australian Institute of Company Directors, who has won a string of awards over her career, mainly for her work in police administration.
Reilly had previously run the NTPFES training college and led the administrative division of the Queensland Police Service for over five years, after performing various roles in the state’s public sector going back to 1992.
Management of the formerly separate firefighting and emergency services was merged to create “a more agile organisation” on the basis of a capability review completed in the first half of 2016, the agency explained at the time.
As executive director, Reilly leads a combined senior management team and her role sits above the chief fire officer, the chief of the emergency service, and a strategy and capability director on the organisational chart.
“Northern Territory Police, Fire and Emergency Services (NTPFES) is already a unified organisation, with shared values and a common vision to serve and protect the people of the Northern Territory,” commissioner Kershaw said in 2016. “This realignment will simply improve what we are already doing.”
“Any and all efficiencies generated by the new structure will be invested straight back into our front line. There will be a stronger emphasis and commitment to training, skills and capability development, and giving our people better tools to do an improved job.
“Across Australia, and internationally, there is an increasing recognition that better collaboration across emergency and fire services delivers not just improved operational outcomes for communities, but also better career opportunities for members and volunteers.”