26 March 2024

The Water Cooler: comings, goings, grants and consultations

| James Day
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Three images put together: Associate Professor Derya Iner; a woman playing guitar and singing on stage; and Jeff Swann.

A breakdown on the latest appointments, grants, and open consultations in the Australian Public Service and across the public services of the states and territories.

The Big Moves

ACT’s first female Director of Public Prosecutions – and Shane Drumgold’s replacement – announced

Former Northern Territory deputy director of public prosecutions Victoria Engel SC will replace former DPP Shane Drumgold SC. She will begin as the first woman in the role from May.

Ms Engel has already had an impressive career, starting with the NSW Legal Aid Commission as a law clerk before joining the NSW DPP’s office in 2007.

While there, she was a Crown prosecutor and appeared in more than 40 trials.

From 2011 to 2012, Ms Engel worked in the United Kingdom as both a senior solicitor with Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs, and a prosecutor with the National Probation Trust.

Ms Engel joined the Northern Territory office of Director of Public Prosecutions in 2020 as the Principal Crown Prosecutor, where she focused on trial and appeal work in the Supreme and Appeal courts.

In this role, Ms Engel led substantial changes in the management of sexual assault cases.

She was appointed Deputy Director in 2021, a role she held until earlier this year.

Victoria Engel SC

Ms Engel said she was looking forward to serving the ACT community, as well as working with DPP staff, ACT Policing and other stakeholders. Photo: Supplied.

NSW Cabinet Office appoints Kathryn Boyd as permanent secretary

Since December Kathryn Boyd has been the acting secretary of the NSW Government’s Cabinet Office, which she’s been part of since 2007.

Now the state’s permanent secretary, she’ll bring her prior experience as deputy secretary and general counsel in the former Department of Premier and Cabinet.

Joanne Kummrow named as Queensland information commissioner

FOI specialist Joanne Kummrow is set to begin her three-year term with the Office of the Information Commissioner (OIC) in April.

The sunshine state’s new information commissioner will lead the independent statutory body. She is tasked with protecting government information, ensuring the public has access to it, and that government agencies are not breaking the law.

Prior to this appointment, Ms Kummrow was the Victorian public access deputy commissioner, where she led the state’s legal team in its response to the Royal Commission into Family Violence.

Joanne Kummrow

Ms Kummrow will replace acting information commissioner Stephanie Winson, who has been in the role since September. Photo: LinkedIn/Joanne Kummrow.

Two medical experts appointed to lead committees

Professor Robyn Ward is the new chair of the Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee, and will be replacing Professor Andrew Wilson from 5 May after his nine years in the role.

Currently Professor Ward is the executive dean of the University of Sydney’s Faculty of Medicine and Health, and since 2009 has been chair of the Medical Services Advisory Committee (MSAC).

Paediatric nephrologist and clinical epidemiologist Jonathan Craig is now chair of MSAC, coming from his current role as vice president and executive dean of Flinders University’s College of Medicine and Public Health.

Alongside him as co-deputy chairs will be Professor Kwun Fong and Associate Professor Sarah Norris.

New Director of the Australian Centre for Disease Preparedness

Dr Debbie Eagles has been appointed Director of the ACDP by the CSIRO. Before her appointment, she was the centre’s deputy director and held the role throughout its response to the pandemic.

For three years Dr Eagles was research director of CSIRO’s diagnosis, surveillance and response program, following an eight-year stint in their veterinary diagnostic team.

Dr Debbie Eagles

At CSIRO’s high-containment facility in Geelong, Dr Eagles will help protect the nation’s livestock and aquaculture industries from emerging infectious disease threats. Photo: Biosym.

Grainne Brunsdon is Screen Australia’s new COO

From her current role as Screen Australia’s director of content, Grainne Brunsdon has been appointed as its new Chief Operating Officer.

Ms Brunsdon brings her experience as head of Screen NSW and director of arts investment, engagement and development at Create NSW. She will succeed Michael Brealey on 1 April, who left the role after five years in December.

Grainne Brunsdon.

At Screen NSW, Ms Brunsdon led the state’s investment into the sector and supported productions throughout the pandemic. Photo: Screen Australia.

Veteran firefighter appointed Chief Officer of the South Australian Metropolitan Fire Service

Jeff Swann has begun his five-year term as the permanent Chief Officer of the South Australian Metropolitan Fire Service, after acting in the role since December.

Prior to his appointment, Mr Swann served as Commander from 2017 until 2021 when he was made Acting Assistant Chief Fire Officer. In 2023 he was made Deputy Chief Officer, having demonstrated exceptional leadership across various sectors of the MFS.

Jeff Swann

Mr Swann served as part of the MFS’s response to the Australian Bushfires of 2019-2020 and was awarded a National Emergency Medal for his service. Photo: LinkedIn/Jeff Swann.

Two new appointments to NSW’s Anti-Discrimination Board

Elena Katrakis and Associate Professor Derya Iner have been appointed to the Anti-Discrimination Board of NSW.

The two will help set the organisation’s strategic direction, carry out investigations, research and inquiries relating to discrimination, and promote understanding and awareness of the issue.

Ms Katrakis is currently the Chief Executive Officer of Carers NSW, the peak body for family and friend carers in the state. Associate Professor Iner is the research coordinator and lecturer at the Centre for Islamic Studies (CISAC) at Charles Sturt University.

Derya Iner

Associate Professor Iner developed an advanced reporting tool and incident registration protocol to collect reliable data from victims and witnesses of Islamophobia. Photo: X/@deryainer.

APS Senior Executive Service

Band 1

Jennifer Bradley has been promoted by the Clean Energy Regulator to general manager for soil, emissions avoidance and contracts.

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade now has Matthew Harding as its new assistant secretary.

Two new assistant commissioners have been appointed to the Australian Taxation Office: Scott Keane will take charge of workplace relations, while Nardine McLoughlin is on top of SES services and leadership.

Alison Wilshire, Andrew Pankowski and Nadia Rosenman are new branch heads of the Department of Climate Change, Energy, the Environment and Water.

Band 2

Peta Langeveld has been promoted to first assistant secretary within the Department of Veterans Affairs.

The new deputy chief general counsels at the Office of the Government Solicitor are Genevieve Ebbeck and Sacha Moran.

Grants Programs

A woman playing guitar on stage while singing.

The NSW Touring and Travel funding program supports national and international touring activity and attendance at key music industry events for the state’s artists and industry professionals. Photo: NSW Government.


Play Our Way grants

The Federal Government has opened applications for its $200 million Play Our Way grant program, which hopes to provide local communities with more welcoming and equitable means for women and girls to participate in sport. Two streams (Facilities, Participation and equipment) are available until 29 April.

New South Wales

Net Zero Manufacturing Initiative

The State Government has released $275 million in grants to support the creation of renewable manufacturing, clean technology innovation, and low carbon product manufacturing. Applications have been open since 26 February.

Recording and Promotion Grants

A million has been made available by Sound NSW to support the state’s contemporary musicians to record and release new, original creative projects. Applications close 17 April.

Touring and Travel Fund

Sound NSW has unveiled $2 million in funding to address the time-sensitive nature of venue availability and performance opportunities – $25,000 per person for domestic activity and up to $7500 per person for international activity can be applied for until 20 May.


Aboriginal Sport Participation grant program

A range of grants are available under the latest round of this program dedicated to providing First Nations athletes with funding for uniforms, equipment, travel and participation in sport carnivals. Applications are open until 15 April.

Biosecurity Funds grants program

This program funds projects that help prevent, monitor, and control pests and diseases in livestock, critical to protecting the state’s $20 billion agriculture industry. Applications close 15 April.

Port Phillip Bay Fund

The latest round of grants supporting projects that protect the health of Port Phillip Bay’s environment has opened up $2.3 million in funding. Grants from $25,000 to $300,000 are available, depending on the size of the project, until 18 April.

Multicultural Festivals and Events program

A new round opens $2.4 million up in funding for community events promoting multiculturalism and building social cohesion. Applicants can apply for up to $50,000 in funding until 19 April.

Cat Management Strategy trial program

A $300,000 effort where local councils can apply for grants of up to $25,000 to deliver desexing services to target areas with problem cat populations, or those who may be experiencing financial hardship. Feedback on the state’s cat management strategy closes on 26 April.

Local Environmental Projects

Environmental volunteer groups can now access up to $20,000 for on-ground works and community-based projects focused on preserving native vegetation and wildlife, waterways, wetlands, soils, and other natural habitats and ecosystems. Applications for the program will close on 30 April.

South Australia

Autism Works in the Community grants

Eligible organisations and community groups can apply for grants between $2000 and $50,000, in a program designed to support those on the spectrum throughout the state. Applications close on 28 March.

The Power of Her – Infrastructure and Participation Program

The first $2.8 million round of the state’s program dedicated to female sporting facilities, improvements, programs and projects that improve female participation are open. Applications remain open until 3 April.

Western Australia

Raising awareness of elder abuse

Grants of $3000 are now available for regional initiatives to raise awareness of elder abuse and mark World Elder Abuse Awareness Day (WEAAD) on 15 June. The competitive process closes on 12 April.

Electronic Identification system infrastructure grants

Grants of up to $10,000 are available to help sheep and goat supply chain operators transition to the new mandatory national electronic eID system. Applications close on 17 May.

Community Stewardship grants for Natural Resource Management initiatives

Grants of up to $450,000 are available under the 2024 Community Stewardship grants, tasked with supporting NRM initiatives that protect and restore Western Australia’s environment. Applications close 20 May.

Grants for registered Community Housing Providers

Up to $50 million in grants are available under a Call for Submissions process looking to increase the supply and diversity of new and refurbished community housing across regional areas. Submissions are open until 16 September.


High Priority Grants to improve waste management and resource recovery industry

There will be a $3 million boost to waste management systems through the island state’s Landfill Levy, in an effort to support the industry’s transition. The first round of grants are for High Priority Infrastructure. Applications are open until 28 March.

Winter Event Marketing grants

A total of $100,000 has been committed to a program looking to boost Tasmania’s winter event season. Anywhere between $5000 and $10,000 is available to event organisers for increasing their marketing activities, specifically targeting interstate visitors. Applications are open until 1 May.

Northern Territory

Grants to support truth-telling initiatives

Up to $20,000 per applicant is open to assist with expenses associated with developing and delivering truth-telling projects, which heal relationships between Aboriginal people and the wider community. Applications close on 8 April.

Geophysics and Drilling Collaborations competitive grants program

The Territory Government will allocate up to $3 million from the $9.5 million available to co-fund projects that address geoscientific knowledge gaps, advance exploration activity, and support the discovery and development of resources. Applications for the new round are open until 29 April.

Visitor Experience grants for tourism industry

The Territory’s tourism industry can access up to $100,000 for upgrading on-ground experiences for tourists that will drive growth in its economy. Submissions remain open until 7 May.

Open for Consultation

Mark Dreyfus

The Attorney General’s Department has announced it will be moving forward with legislation to make doxxing a criminal offence. Photo: Facebook.

Laws to combat doxxing

The Attorney-General’s Department has opened consultation on measures to address the practice where hackers and online vigilantes search for and publish private information on the internet, usually with malicious intent. Submissions close on 28 March.

Standardising natural hazard definitions and reviewing standard cover for insurance contracts

The Commonwealth has released a paper on the matter in their effort to improve insurance affordability as more severe weather events contribute to higher costs. Submissions will close on 4 April.

Petroleum Resource Rent Tax regulations

Treasury has published its draft for the next set of regulations to improve the certainty and integrity of the tax regime, which was recommended in the Gas Transfer Pricing Review and announced in the 2023-24 Budget. Feedback is available until 12 April.

ACMA’s draft plan for management of nation’s spectrum

The Australian Communications and Media Authority has published its draft plan for the management of Australia’s wireless communications frequencies that carry mobile data, satellite transmissions and broadcast signals.

The draft five-year spectrum outlook 2024–29 canvasses a range of potential use cases, including increasing the spectrum available for 5G wireless broadband as well as new satellite technologies, both supporting greater network coverage and connectivity. Submissions are to close on 22 April.

Veterans’ legislation reform

The Defence Department has released exposure draft legislation that hopes to simplify the century old veterans’ entitlements, compensation and rehabilitation system. Submissions remain open until 28 April.

Otway Offshore Gas Victoria Project Proposal

Australia’s offshore energy regulator has opened up comment on Beach Energy’s project to be located around 20 km south of the Victorian mainland, with an operational life of up to 30 years. Submissions remain open until 20 May.

For information on all the state and territory government projects open for consultation, follow the links below:

Federal Parliament Public Hearings

Wednesday (27 March):

Social Services and Other Legislation Amendment (Military Invalidity Payments Means Testing) Bill 2024 [Provisions] – Community Affairs Legislation Committee

Time: TBA; Chamber: Senate.

Additional Estimates Spillover – Finance and Public Administration Legislation Committee

Time: 7:30 pm – 9:30 pm; Chamber: Senate.

Tuesday (2 April):

Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (Nuclear Medicine Facility project) – Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works

Time: 2 pm – 3 pm; Chamber: Joint; Location: Yarrawarrah Community Centre, Old Bush Road & Laurina Avenue, Yarrawarrah, NSW.

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