27 September 2023

Australia Day celebrates PS excellence

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Public Service members from all States and Territories have been recognised in the Australia Day Honours List this year, honoured with well-earned rewards for their selflessness and commitment to duty and service for the benefit of the Australian community.

His Majesty, King Charles’ awards for members of the Australian Capital Territory Public Service were decided in accordance with the Order of Australia and announced on His Majesty’s behalf by His Excellency the Governor-General of Australia, General David Hurley.

Congratulating the recipients of all the honours, General Hurley described the significant of the recipients as “quite simply, inspiring”.

“They go above and beyond, are from all over the country, and contribute every day in every way imaginable,” the Governor-General said.

“These are the people who see us through good times and bad. They’re the first to show up and the last to leave,” he said

“It’s important they know how much they are valued.”

Members of the Australian Capital Territory Public Service honoured this year are:


Matthew Malcolm COLLESS AO
Australian National University (ANU)

For distinguished service to scientific research, particularly to astronomy and astrophysics, and to professional societies.

Distinguished Professor Colless has served as Distinguished Professor and Director of the ANU’s Research School of Astronomy and Astrophysics since 2013.


Kiaran KIRK AM
Australian National University (ANU)

For significant service to science education and research, and to professional organisations.

Professor Kirk has served as Dean of the ANY’s College of Science since 2017.


ACT Health

For outstanding public service in public health, particularly as ACT Chief Health Officer.

Dr Coleman has led the public health response to several significant public health emergencies within the ACT, including poor air quality due to a difficult bushfire season in the ACT and region during December 2019 and January 2020, and throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

Over an extended period, Dr Coleman has been actively involved across all areas of the ACT response to the COVID-19 pandemic. She has developed nearly 100 public health emergency directions designed to protect the Canberra community, carefully and painstakingly weighing up the human rights, social, and economic impacts of each one.

Under her leadership the ACT implemented a highly successful quarantine program, with a strong focus on the welfare of travellers while in quarantine. It has also operated a successful home quarantine program. She established a highly effective contact tracing program, including an innovative training program with university students to enable a surge capacity as required. This program has since been adopted by a number of international public health departments including Germany and Canada.

As the key advisor to the ACT Government, Dr Coleman has provided strong leadership to a team of highly committed staff members within the ACT Health Directorate, and successfully represented the ACT on national forums aimed at developing a coordinated response within Australia.

Her person-centred approach has helped ensure and maintain momentum and engagement throughout the pandemic. She has actively engaged with peers, fellow professionals, stakeholders and the broader community in all that she does.

Dr Coleman’s role in the ACT response to the pandemic stands alongside a career of outstanding achievement, and in all of her dealings she has shown strength, resilience, integrity, and compassion.

Leesa Maree CROKE PSM
Chief Minister, Treasury and Economic Development Directorate

For outstanding public service in social policy and in leading the ACT’s Whole of Government COVID-19 response.

Ms Croke has made a significant contribution to public policy over the course of her career in the Commonwealth and ACT Public Service (ACTPS). Since re-joining the ACTPS in 2017, she has been providing high quality advice to Government on all aspects of public policy while also overseeing Cabinet operations, Commonwealth-State relations, whole of Government record management and the delivery of the ACT’s Wellbeing Framework. Significant achievements include her leadership of complex policy reforms around greyhound racing, drugs of dependence, and sexuality and gender identity conversion practices.

In addition, since mid-2021 Ms Croke has held the role of Coordinator General, Whole of Government COVID-19 response. This role involves leadership and direction for the Coordinators-General Group and coordination of all aspects of the COVID-19 response that do not have a specific health focus. In this role, Ms Croke has provided strong leadership across the public service and in providing advice to Government on the ACT’s COVID-19 response.

She led the ACT Government’s engagement with the Commonwealth and other jurisdictions to ensure the ACT Government continued to provide citizens with the highest levels of service.

Her leadership across the ACTPS in this role ensured the ACT Government was appraised of all issues related to COVID-19 not just the health response. In carving out the non-health elements of the response, her leadership freed up the Chief Health Officer and others leading the health response to focus on their role.

Ms Croke’s collaborative and collegiate approach allowed emerging issues to be dealt with swiftly before significant community impacts were felt.

ACT Health

For outstanding public service overseeing COVID-19 policy and interGovernmental relations during the ACT’s COVID-19 response.

Ms Dal Molin has supported the ACT Government and the ACT community through her exceptional policy skills, stakeholder engagement and liaison across all sectors of business and with the State and Commonwealth Governments.

She has provided exceptional leadership in times of extreme pressure and in the face of a rapidly changing and unknown environment. Her ability to remain calm under pressure and her outstanding resilience inspired her colleagues to produce policy work of the highest quality.

Ms Dal Molin provided outstanding leadership in the development of the ACT’s Public Health Social Measures, the step-up and step-down responses to changing COVID-19 risk levels in surrounding New South Wales, and expertly led the policy and governance implementation approach for the Check in CBR app, a world class tool that was subsequently adopted by other jurisdictions.

She has provided outstanding service in the development of policy to support the ACT’s COVID-19 Response. Her work has impacted on the lives of every Canberran in a way that has restricted their lives, businesses, and families. The community has responded admirably to these restrictions which is testament to the quality, proportionality, and reasonableness of the policy settings.

Education Directorate

For outstanding public service to public education, in leading significant education system policy and reform for the ACT.

Ms Efthymiades is recognised for her ability to provide exceptional leadership and commitment in exercising her role, but also to supporting positive workplace culture and staff advocacy.

She has led a number of education strategies for the ACT to guide all parts of the education system to support and deliver excellence and equity in educational outcomes for each and every child and young person, making sure early childhood education is high-quality, accessible and affordable.

Ms Efthymiades has provided system stewardship through strong relationships with the non-Government schooling and early childhood education and care sectors, which includes a critical role in cross jurisdictional collaborations and negotiations on national reforms, such as the National School Reform Agreement and associated National Policy Initiatives.

She has also led significant legislative reforms resulting in a new regulatory model for non-Government schools.

Ms Efthymiades led the ACT’s transition to NAPLAN online as well as nation leading improvements in measuring of student outcomes, including through a wellbeing lens. She has also played a lead role nationally in the development stages of the Online Formative Assessment Initiative, continuing to drive improvements in how student outcomes are measured and used to support learning growth.

Ms Efthymiades’ achievements have been pivotal in enabling the ACT education system to be responsive to the needs of a rapidly growing ACT population, with the ACT being one of the fastest growing jurisdictions, nationally.

The work she has delivered, not only in her time in the ACT but across her whole career, including 15 years in Northern Territory Education, is being experienced daily as it contributes to improved educational outcomes for children and young people.

Canberra Health Services

For outstanding public service to public health as the Clinical Nurse Consultant for the ACT Government COVID-19 vaccination program.

Under Ms Holbertons’ clinical leadership, the vaccination service was able to respond to the pandemic and increase from doing 1000 vaccinations a day to 3,500 vaccination a day at the Australian Institute of Sport (AIS) mass vaccination centre.

The work and dedication she put into her role directly influenced the ACT reaching key national vaccination milestones and becoming one of the most vaccinated cities in the world.

Ms Holberton set up processes for clinical safety for vaccine management and undertook to be the clinical expert on the ATAGI guidelines. Setting up a mass vaccination centre was new Australia wide, and there were few guiding documents on how one would operate.

She was able to anticipate the requirements for this novel health service and ensure the processes were clinically safe and patient focused. The ACT had the lowest COVID-19 vaccine wastage rate amongst the states, and the mass vaccination centre received consistent feedback on how easy it was to access and how smooth the processes were.

Whilst excelling in her clinical role, Ms Holberton was able to contribute to milestones in service delivery, clinical safety, consumer engagement and workforce preparedness. She committed herself whole heartedly to leading COVID-19 vaccination efforts in a time of intense community pressure for all Canberrans.

Her contribution to the COVID-19 response was integral to the ACT’s success in vaccination and in meeting key targets. She displayed extraordinary leadership skills of a large and junior workforce.

In a time when most of Canberra was in lockdown, Ms Holberton went above and beyond in leadership and time commitment to ensure the success of vaccination efforts.

ACT Health

For outstanding public service to public health through specialised data analytics.

Dr Jenkins developed and modelled the requirements for COVID-19 vaccine supply and demand which determined the siting and size of the mass vaccination clinic in the ACT.

Her detailed modelling informed ACT, State and Commonwealth negotiations such that the ACT obtained and maintained sufficient vaccine supply to keep the vaccination program running (including for regional NSW residents that relied on the ACT health system for their COVID-19 vaccine needs).

Dr Jenkins provided outstanding assistance in the design and scheduling requirements of the ACT’s Equity to Access Vaccination Clinic service which offered in-home vaccinations, in reach vaccinations through community organisations and pop-up vaccination clinics across Canberra.

This service was designed to deliver vaccines to hard-to-reach communities where vaccine uptake was known to be low or where barriers to accessing mainstream health services were experienced.

Dr Jenkins was instrumental in the provision of vaccine data to both Government and the community. She was critical to the achievement of performance monitoring and reporting obligations under the National Partnership on the COVID-19 response.

Dr Jenkins worked throughout the COVID-19 response to ensure that all stakeholders received a daily update showing the vaccination status of Canberrans; a weekly briefing of vaccine trends across population cohorts (including culturally and linguistically diverse communities, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and specific age groups) and regions; as well as modelling and forecasting that helped ACT Health and Canberra Health Services to understand where to invest resources in the vaccination effort.

Patricia Ellen JOHNSTON PSM
ACT Health

For outstanding public service as the Public Information Coordinator during the ACT’s lockdown period.

The Public Information Coordination Centre (PICC) was activated to perform a critical function in supporting the Chief Health Officer, Coordinator-General and the ACT Government to deliver timely and accurate public information about COVID-19. The PICC’s primary responsibility was to deliver public information to the community and the media during an unprecedented time for many Canberran’s during the 2021 ACT COVID-19 outbreak.

Ms Johnston readied the communications and engagement response using her extensive experience working across Government departments, including the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, and advising Ministers and Cabinet on whole of Government matters.

Once COVID-19 fragments were found in neighbouring jurisdictions in July 2021, Ms Johnston engaged extensively with stakeholders at all levels to substantiate the risk levels to the ACT and prepare the communication and engagement key messages once lockdown was called. She highlighted the importance of understanding the points of view of all stakeholders in order to be responsive and cohesive in the response.

She is an innovative and creative thinker who drives change to achieve better strategic outcomes and enables her staff to find an extra gear to realise results.

Her staff have benefited from her intelligence and willpower in making the hard decisions and having the difficult conversations to transition the emergency COVID-19 PICC towards more sustainable arrangements for living alongside COVID-19.

ACT Health

For outstanding public service in public health, particularly as ACT Deputy Chief Health Officer.

COVID-19 has been the most significant public health emergency experienced in the ACT in nearly 100 years and has impacted every facet of life for every member of the community.

As the Deputy Chief Health Officer, Dr Johnston’s leadership, strategic guidance, communication skills and compassion have been outstanding. Dr Johnston worked extremely long hours providing support to the Chief Health Officer, and the ACT Government, to guide the ACT pandemic response. She did so with grace and expertise, engendering the trust of the ACT Government and the community alike.

As the ACT representative and Deputy Chair of the Communicable Diseases Network of Australia, Dr Johnston has provided national leadership on the development of the technical public health response to COVID-19. This role requires continued assessment of the changing nature of the disease, its effect on the community, both nationally and in the ACT, and required clear national policy advice that could be implemented practically whilst maintaining the minimal impact on community.

Her leadership role in steering the Committee and its output has been exceptional.

Dr Johnston provided expert leadership to the operations, support and policy teams responding to COVID-19 and did so with compassion and strength, with absolute regard for the wellbeing of her team who were under extreme pressure.

Her leadership style and commitment to her staff resulted in a very high performing team who went to enormous lengths to support the ACT community.

Toby Michael KEENE PSM
ACT Health

For outstanding public service to public health as the Executive Branch Manager, COVID-19 Response Branch in ACT Health.

During the initial stages of the COVID-19 pandemic, Mr Keene was integral in the development and implementation of a quarantine program to safely repatriate Australians, providing strategic direction and comprehensive advice to the whole-of-Government response.

He oversaw the successful operation, safely returning over 1,000 people back to the country at the completion of the program.

Mr Keene developed a wellbeing team sitting directly within the COVID-19 response team, identifying a gap in service delivery for people undertaking a quarantine period. He guided the ACT to be the first Australian jurisdiction to embed a mental health service into the public health response.

His experience and knowledge enabled a senior Clinical Psychologist to move into the team, and the placement of allied health professionals into the program to support the mental wellbeing of people in quarantine.

Mr Keene coordinated the whole-of-Government response to complex public housing outbreaks, collaborating with relevant Directorates and non-Government organisations to produce an innovative all-service response. He led the planning that took into consideration the complex needs of the population in public housing, as well as the lessons learnt from other jurisdictions.

He led the COVID-19 Response team through times of constant change. Rapid changes to Test, Trace, Isolate and Quarantine rules placed high pressure on teams to meet short deadlines.

Mr Keene was able to maintain the motivation of all staff by leading with a shared sense of purpose, and supported staff by building rapport with teams, listening to their concerns, and implementing tools to improve communication and coordination.

Ian Mackenzie MARR PSM
Canberra Health Services

For outstanding public service to public health as the Infectious Disease specialist at Canberra Health Services.

Dr Marr led the establishment of the ACT COVID Care@Home program which established triage tools to ensure all ACT COVID-19 cases were appropriately cared for in the ACT. COVID-19 cases at risk of developing serious illness were supported by the newly established multidisciplinary virtual COVID Care@Home team.

His extraordinary commitment, dedication of time, leadership and compassion has been significant, and a great comfort for the ACT COVID Care@Home patients, with the knowledge they were in safe hands.

Dr Marr and his team prevented or pre-empted hospital admissions, which enhanced the ability of COVID-19 cases receiving the right treatment, at the right time in the right place. His team has been the initial backbone of prescribing antiviral medication in the ACT, which has not only prevented hospital admissions but saved lives.

Andrew Peter MURPHY PSM
Canberra Health Services

For outstanding public service to public health as the Senior Director of Procurement and Supply at Canberra Health Services.

Mr Murphy has gone above and beyond to ensure Canberra’s hospital and health service has everything needed ‘to do what they do’. From the high profile and nationally in-demand, to the emerging and niche product, he has been on the front foot sourcing and negotiating on behalf of the ACT for supplies of everything from Personal Protective Equipment and Rapid Antigen Tests to medical imaging dyes crucial for CT scans.

Mr Murphy brings a considered and thoughtful approach to leadership. He takes the time to listen and make sure everyone is included in the conversation, then returns with a thoughtful and inclusive decision.

When it is time to take the initiative, he does so with gusto, reliability and determination. Without his vision and commitment, the ACT would not have been in such a favourable position as it has been throughout each stage of the pandemic.

In addition to his oversight of incoming and present stock levels for critical hospital supplies, Mr Murphy has responded to the COVID-related staffing crisis with flexibility, dedication and authenticity.

His hands-on approach sees him briefing Ministers, marshalling his considerable logistics expertise to deliver for the Territory, and in desperate times even jumping in to drive delivery vehicles to deliver hospital supplies.

Catherine Ann O’NEILL PSM
Canberra Health Services

For outstanding public service to health services as the Chief Operating Officer of Canberra Health Services.

Ms O’Neill has provided outstanding public and private hospital coordination resulting in a structured Territory-wide clinical response to COVID-19.

Throughout the pandemic Ms O’Neill has demonstrated incredible leadership through coordinating the clinical services for patients requiring testing, vaccination and hospitalisation, along with significant support for non-Government providers in the aged care, disability care and health services sectors.

She has led the deployment of clinical teams responding to COVID-19 outbreaks in a range of high-risk settings within the ACT, including public housing, disability service providers, aged care facilities, private hospitals and the ACT’s correctional facility.

Ms O’Neill’s leadership and can-do approach has saved lives through the rapid escalation of care and infectious disease supports for vulnerable patients, as well as coordination of protective measures to prevent further transmission in outbreaks occurring in Government and non-Government high risk settings.

Tamerra Jane ROGERS PSM
Chief Minister, Treasury and Economic Development Directorate

For outstanding public service in communications and engagement as the Deputy Public Information Coordinator during the ACT’s lockdown period.

ACT Health

For outstanding public service to public health.

Dr Singleton has provided expert assistance to the COVID-19 outbreak team who manage critical high risk facility sites, such as residential aged care facilities, hospitals and correctional facilities, working to ensure the most vulnerable members of the community are supported.

She has expertly led the Public Health Physician Medical officers undertaking risk assessments, case management and COVID-19 policy development. She has provided outstanding leadership to Acute Response Teams and Outbreak Management Teams established to govern and coordinate the response to specific incidents.

Drawing on her extensive professional background she ensured the public health advice provided to the community was evidence based, written in plain language and proportionate to the current epidemiological situation.

Dr Singleton’s leadership style has directly resulted in the increased capability of the medical officer team in Australian Capital Territory Health through the encouragement and mentoring of junior medical officers. She is highly supportive of her colleagues, recognising and managing their stress levels with diplomacy.

She has provided exceptional support, guidance and professional advice to the Education sector in the development of school outbreak guidelines and management plans over the course of the pandemic. This advice has ranged from mainstream schools to highly specialised schools supporting children with significant disability.

Her leadership and professional advice has facilitated the continued safe functioning of the aged care, disability, education and corrections sectors through COVID-19.

Dr Singleton has strengthened relationships between Australian Capital Territory Health, the different sectors and non-Government organisations, through stressful circumstances and has resulted in an enduring legacy of co-operation between all.

Katherine Ruth WAKEFIELD PSM
Canberra Health Services

For outstanding public service to public health as the Executive Director in the Division of Cancer and Ambulatory Support.

In her role as the clinical lead for the Australian Capital Territory’s COVID-19 vaccination and testing programs during the height of the pandemic, Ms Wakefield’s exceptional leadership ensured that the ACT led the nation in delivering vaccinations to 90 per cent of the population within a three-month period.

She was instrumental in operationalising mass vaccination clinics at the Australian Institute of Sport (AIS), Canberra Airport and the Garran Surge Centre, each with their own unique challenges. She also led the clinical development of the Australian Capital Territory’s access and sensory vaccination program, delivering a vaccination service for Canberrans with special needs.

Ms Wakefield demonstrated outstanding service through her practical, problem solving and leadership skills to rapidly expand services, recruit staff, and support the team through unprecedented times. She coordinated the work to set up the AIS and liaised with key stakeholders and partners across various departments of health, along with private companies, so that the Australian Capital Territory could deliver over 280,000 vaccinations.

Throughout this time, she maintained a calm and responsive approach to emerging challenges and worked positively with her team and the Australian Capital Territory Government, ensuring success for the community.

Ms Wakefield’s ability to inspire others to work above and beyond meant that the Australian Capital Territory was the fastest vaccinated city in the world. She worked across Directorates, Agencies, and private businesses to achieve this goal in a way that consistently demonstrated the Australian Capital Territory Public Service values.

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