Movers & shakers: if not gender quotas, how well did targets work?

By The Mandarin

September 21, 2018

New (or relatively new) appointments and promotions from the week, including Senior Executive Service promotions in the Australian government.

Government boards and other entities

John Lonsdale has been appointed second Deputy Chair to the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA).

Patricia Adjei has been appointed to the newly established role of Arts Practice Director First Nations Arts and Culture, supporting the Australia Council’s commitment to building the capacity of First Nations arts and cultural activities. Adjei is a Wuthathi, Torres Strait Islander and Ghanaian woman with more than a decade of legal experience in copyright and intellectual property rights with a specific focus on Indigenous culture and engagement.

Professor Fred Watson AM has been appointed Australia’s first Astronomer-at-large. The newly created position is a public advocacy role and involves a range of duties, including fostering relationships with key stakeholders across government, industry bodies and research communities, and the broader public.

Only one former politician aligned to the government’s party among the six new appointments to Cancer Australia Advisory Council. The new advisory council members are: distinguished research scientist Professor Joanne Aitken, gynaecological oncologist Associate Professor Penny Blomfield, leading Indigenous Otolaryngologist Associate Professor Kelvin Kong, consumer advocate Lillian Leigh, radiation oncologist Dr Serena Sia, and former NSW Minister for Health the Honourable Jillian Skinner.

Meanwhile, there’s been a lot of debate in the last few weeks on gender quotas or targets. Here’s what Minister for Women Kelly O’Dwyer had to say:

“I think it’s incredibly important to have strong targets. I think it’s imperatively important to be able to measure your success along the journey. When I was Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for the Public Service, we increased our targets for the public service. We increased those targets so that we could have 50-50 representation at the very highest levels, secretaries of our departments, and that has just been achieved under our Government with 50-50 represented.

“We had targets, as Minister for Women, for the number of women appointed to government boards. I think it started at just over 40%. We’ve certainly exceeded that at around 44%. And we’ve set ourselves a new target of 50% and I’m going to be pleased to be able to report on the success on that journey in just a matter of weeks as we have been getting closer to reaching those targets.”

Home Affairs

The Department of Home Affairs has now updated the official records to reflect the changes we tentatively reported last week: the promotion of Radovan “Radi” Kovacevic to first assistant secretary, heading up the major capability division, replacing Michael Milford, who has moved sideways to run the ICT division as chief information officer.

The department has also since confirmed to other media outlets that the former CIO, Tim Catley, has resigned to return to Sydney, where he was previously CIO at Transport for New South Wales. He told Fairfax Media he was going to work in the private sector and said “Canberra wasn’t really working” for his young family.

He said his resignation was a “personal decision” that had nothing to do with the fact he became the subject of a question in budget estimates hearings soon after taking up the Home Affairs job, related to an investigation by the New South Wales Information and Privacy Commission into allegations that a senior executive at the transport agency asked other staff members to delete agency records, in breach of record-keeping obligations.

The department took the question on notice and left it unanswered until it was well overdue. It finally responded once Catley had decided to leave the capital behind, simply telling the senator he no longer works at Home Affairs.

ACT Health

Bernadette McDonald has been appointed Interim Chief Executive Officer of the new Canberra Health Service just before ACT Health splits into two organisations, one on policy and one on  operations, at the beginning of next month. McDonald, who has occupied senior roles in Victorian hospitals and in the Victorian Health and Human Services Department, will have a six month contact before the recruitment process will need to begin again, after the first selected candidate quit in the first week.

Minister for Health and Wellbeing Meegan Fitzharris, said in a statement that with the establishment of Canberra Health Service as its own organisation, the CEO role is a key leadership position:

“Ms McDonald comes to the role with significant experience leading hospital and health service delivery, as well as policy and program delivery. She has strong health leadership credentials and a commitment to working in partnerships and promoting positive workplace culture. Ms McDonald will play a key role in ensuring a smooth transition process for the organisation.

“Ahead of the separation of ACT Health next month, I am pleased that the leadership roles for our ACT public health system are now in place.”


Vice Admiral Ray Griggs, AO, CSC, RAN.

Vice Admiral Ray Griggs joins the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet as the new Associate Secretary, Indigenous Affairs. Griggs replaces Andrew Tongue from next month. Read more about events in the Indigenous Affairs group here.

Griggs told The Mandarin he was “honoured and excited to be asked to lead a dedicated, talented and committed team of people working issues of such importance to our community. I am very much looking forward to starting in the role and being able to bring my range of leadership and organisational skills to complement the team.”

Agriculture and Water Resources

  • Kylie Barber, who has been acting Assistant Secretary, HR People in the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources has been promoted into the role.

Industry, Innovation and Science

  • Nathan Hannigan, who has been acting Assistant Secretary, Departmental Services in the Department of Industry, Innovation and Science has been promoted into the role.


  • Andrew Hodgkinson, who has been acting Assistant Secretary, Defence Capability and Innovation in the Department of Defence has been promoted into the role.

House of Representatives

  • Peter Banson, who has been acting Clerk Assistant (Table) in the House of Representatives has been promoted into the role.

See last week’s movers and shakers update here.

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