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WA Public Sector Commissioner Sharyn O’Neill new ANZSOG Board Chair

27 July 2023

News and media


Image of WA Public Sector Commissioner and new ANZSOG board chair Sharyn O’Neill

WA Public Sector Commissioner Sharyn O’Neill PSM has been named the new Chair of the Australia and New Zealand School of Government (ANZSOG) Board, replacing retiring Australian Public Service Commissioner Peter Woolcott AO, who chaired his final Board meeting in May.

ANZSOG Dean and CEO Adam Fennessy said he welcomed Ms O’Neill’s appointment and looked forward to working with her to shape ANZSOG’s future.

“This appointment will see Sharyn become the first Western Australian to chair the ANZSOG Board,” he said.

“More importantly, it sees someone with a strong track record in public administration, reform and capability building take on the position. I know Sharyn is focused on strengthening the WA public sector to better serve the community, with a major reform agenda that focuses on leadership, talent, diversity, data, workforce, integrity and capability.

“With ANZSOG’s work across Australia and Aotearoa New Zealand, these are vital matters for all public services for the complex, interconnected challenges they face.

“Sharyn’s knowledge and commitment will be invaluable as we work to ensure that ANZSOG meets the current and future needs of our owner governments.”

Ms O’Neill became Western Australia’s Public Sector Commissioner in July 2018 following 12 years as Director General of the WA Department of Education where she was the driving force behind some of the biggest changes to public education in the state. Her leadership saw improvements to student academic standards, unprecedented autonomy for public schools, halting the drift of students to private schools and an unparalleled reform of public school funding.

As Public Sector Commissioner she also served as the State Recovery Controller for the COVID-19 pandemic from April 2020 to October 2022. Appointed by the WA Government, her responsibilities included developing, coordinating and overseeing WA’s recovery from the impacts of the pandemic.

Ms O’Neill said she was both honoured to be appointed Chair of the ANZSOG Board and excited for the future of the organisation.

“The public service affects almost every aspect of our daily lives so ANZSOG’s work to enhance the capabilities of public sector leaders can have a significant effect on society,“ Ms O’Neill said.

“Strong partnerships, a common purpose and deep collaboration are at the heart of ANZSOG’s success and positive reputation, and my focus will be to continue and enhance these relationships.”

Mr Fennessy thanked Peter Woolcott for his work as ANZSOG Board Chair, a position he held from November 2020.

“Peter shepherded the organisation through a time of significant change and demands on both public sector leaders and organisations. In particular, his work helping to steer ANZSOG through COVID-19 was invaluable,” he said.

Former Dean and CEO Ken Smith said in October 2022 that “Peter Woolcott has consolidated ANZSOG reputationally in the midst of an international pandemic and helped us position as we emerge from the COVID fog.”

The ANZSOG Board has representatives from all 10 of ANZSOG’s owner governments and overall responsibility for the organisation, setting direction and overseeing the effectiveness of delivery against strategy.