2017 Leadership in Government Awards

We recognise exceptional achievements by leaders in the Australian Public Service annually

In brief

  • The awards celebrate outstanding achievements by Australian Public Service leaders
  • Nominations are open for the 2017 Leadership in Government Awards until 27 October
  • This year’s awards focus on innovation, creativity, problem solving and collaboration.

Each year our Leadership in Government Awards showcase the Australian Public Service leaders who are making the greatest contributions to the prosperity and stability of the country.

We’re inviting nominations until 27 October and the winners will be announced at an awards ceremony at the Press Club in Canberra on 16 November.

Judges will be looking for Australian Public Service leaders who: 

  • Exemplify personal drive and integrity
  • Cultivate productive working relationships
  • Shape strategic thinking
  • Communicate with influence
  • Achieve results

There are categories for well-established public servants and those in the early stages of their careers who show great future potential. The awards will be judged by an independent panel that includes previous winners and is chaired by former Federal Commissioner of Taxation, Michael D’Ascenzo. 

"The public sector, the engine room of the nation are more than aware of the disruptive forces sweeping across industries and leadership in the innovation that is critical for the national prosperity of Australia"
Simon Grant Head of Members, CA ANZ

Award categories and prizes

This year CA ANZ will present two awards:

Outstanding Contribution in Public Administration

  • For those holding positions in SES band 1-2 and executive Level 2
  • Recognises those who play a key role in the development and implementation of the Australian Government’s policy, planning and funding arrangements
  • Winner receives a $20,000 sabbatical to invest in leadership development

Graduate of the Year

  • For young Australian Public Service leaders who completed their degree within the past 5 years
  • Recognises graduates who have excelled, made a visible difference in their field and inspired others
  • Winner receives a $10,000 sabbatical to invest in leadership development

The nomination process is simple, and the winners will be determined according to a rigorous and independent judging process.

Leadership for the future 

At last year’s awards dinner the keynote address was delivered from Geneva by former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, who urged modern leadership to have courage. It was followed by a Q&A panel with distinguished guests discussing the UN’s Sustainability Development Goals.

The theme at this year’s awards ceremony will be how automation is redefining work and why, to stay ahead, it will become increasingly important to develop key skills that can’t be outsourced to machines, such as problem solving, adaptability, collaboration, leadership, creativity and innovation. 

Innovation, Talent and Design

The theme at this year’s awards ceremony will be how automation is redefining work and why, to stay ahead, it will become increasingly important to develop key skills that can’t be outsourced to machines, such as problem solving, adaptability, collaboration, leadership, creativity and innovation. 

The panel and keynote speaker for this year will be announced soon.

Next steps

Download a nomination form and nomination guide on this page that will give you detailed information on the awards, eligibility, judging criteria and T&Cs.

Email your nominations

2017 Judging panel

  • Michael D'Ascenzo - Chair

    Michael D'Ascenzo AO is recognised internationally for his leadership and expertise in administration and governance as well as his technical and design skills in tax law and superannuation. He was Commissioner of Taxation (a statutory appointment) from January 2006 to December 2012 and served Australia and the Australian community in the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) for 35 years. 

    Prior to becoming Commissioner, Michael D’Ascenzo was Second Commissioner and Chief Tax Counsel concurrently, overseeing law interpretation, corporate planning, finance and governance. He is currently a member of the Foreign Investment Review Board and the Clean Energy Regulator, and he is an adviser with the International Monetary Fund.

  • Jeff Harmer

    Dr Jeff Harmer AO has been Director of The Smith Family since January 2013. During a 33-year career in the Australian Public Service, including 13 years as the Chief Executive Officer, Dr Harmer occupied a range of executive positions across a number of Commonwealth departments and was Managing Director of the Health Insurance Commission (also known as Medicare Australia) from 1998 to 2003. In 2003 and 2004, Dr Harmer was Secretary of the Commonwealth Department of Education, Science and Training. For six years, until December 2011, he served as Secretary of the Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs. He serves as Director of the Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute and as a Member of the Board of the John James Foundation, a Canberra-based medical charity. 

  • Patrick Barrett

    Patrick Barrett’s career in Public Administration has spanned 46 years, mainly in Civil Aviation, Health, Agricultural Economics, the Tariff Board, the Industries Assistance Commission, Finance, Housing and Construction, and the Australian National Audit Office. He has served as: Chair of the Information Exchange Committee, a member of the ACT Casino Surveillance Authority, Deputy Secretary of the Department of Housing and Construction, Deputy Secretary of the Department of Finance, and Auditor-General.

    Mr Barrett was the Director on the International Consortium on Governmental Financial Management. He was also the Director of the International Federation of Accountants, and was the Chair of the Audit and Risk Committee of CPA Australia from 2005 to 2008. He is a Life Member and Fellow of CPA Australia, and a Fellow of: Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand, the Institute of Public Administration Australia, the Governance Institute of Australia, the Chartered Institute of Secretaries, the Risk Management Institution of Australasia, and the Australian Risk Policy Institute.

  • Meredith Edwards

    Dr Meredith Edwards is Emeritus Professor at the Institute for Governance and Policy Analysis. An economist, she has been a lecturer, researcher, policy analyst and administrator. From 1983 to 1997, she advised on major social policy, education and labour market issues in the Commonwealth Public Service, including in the role of Deputy Secretary of the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet from 1993. She served as Deputy Vice-Chancellor of the University of Canberra from 1997 to 2002, and set up the National Institute for Governance in 1999, of which she was Director until 2004. She was a member of the Wran Committee on Higher Education Funding (1988–1989) and a member of the Australian Statistics Advisory Council (1988–1990 and 1994–2001). 

    Ms Edwards is the author of three books and over 40 academic articles, most recently she has been engaged in an ANZSIG project on Celebrating the Contribution of Senior Women to the Public Sector, which led to a publication she co-authored, “Not Yet 50/50: Barriers to the Progress of Senior Women in the Australian Public Service.”

    She is a Fellow of: the Institute of Public Administration Australia (IPAA), the Academy of the Social Sciences in Australia, and ANZSOG. She was President of the Economic Society of Australia and New Zealand (ACT Branch) from 1994 to 1996 and is also a member of the United National Committee of Experts on Public Administration.

  • Mike Mrdak

    Mike Mrdak AO is Secretary of the Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development, a position he has held since June 2009. Mike began his Australian Public Service career in 1988 as a Graduate with the then Department of Transport and Communications. Since then he has held a number of senior positions across the portfolio and with the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet.

    His work with the infrastructure and regional development portfolio includes management of infrastructure investment; policy initiatives to increase productivity; security, safety and regulation in road, rail, aviation and maritime transport; regional development; local government; and services to Australia’s territories.

    In 2013, Mike received the Federal Government Leader of the Year Award, recognising his outstanding leadership and work on major infrastructure projects, including the duplication of the Pacific and Hume Highways. In January 2014, Mike was appointed Commissioner of the National Transport Commission and is also the Australian Government’s representative on the Board of the Foundation for Rural and Regional Renewal (FRRR). Mike holds an Officer (AO) of the Order of Australia in the Queen’s Birthday 2016 honours list.

  • Andrew Metcalfe

    Andrew Metcalfe AO is a former senior Australian public servant and policymaker. He is an Australian public service leader and public policy expert, Fellow of the Institute of Public Administration Australia, Fellow of the Australian Institute of Management, and Partner at Ernst and Young, Canberra, in their Government and Public Sector team.

  • Ian McPhee

    Ian McPhee AO, PSM, FCPA, FCA became a member of the International Ethics Standards Board for Accountants in January 2016. He was nominated by CPA Australia and Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand. Mr McPhee was a member of the International Auditing and Assurance Standards Board between 2003 and 2008. He has been Deputy Chair of the Australian Accounting Standards Board, a member of the Australian Auditing and Assurance Standards Board, and Chair of the former Public Sector Accounting Standards Board in Australia. 

    Mr McPhee is an Adjunct Professor at the Australian National University, a non-executive director of a listed company in Australia, and an audit committee member. Previously, he was Auditor-General for Australia between 2005 and 2015, and Deputy Secretary of the Department of Finance between 2003 and 2005. He held a range of other positions in the Australian National Audit Office and the Department of Finance.

    He was made an Officer (AO) of the Order of Australia in 2015, awarded a Public Service Medal in 2002, awarded a First Class Medal of Honor by the Government of Indonesia in 2009, and received several other prestigious awards for his contribution to the public sector, including an honorary doctorate and the Federal Government Leader of the Year Award.

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