Our Executive

Secretary

Dr Michele Bruniges AM

Dr Michele Bruniges AM

Dr Michele Bruniges AM is the Secretary of the Australian Department of Education, Skills and Employment.

By working with government to develop and implement policy priorities, the department’s commitment is to ensure Australians can experience the wellbeing and economic benefits that quality education, skills and employment provide.

Between 2016 and February 2020, Dr Bruniges led the Australian Department of Education and Training and then the Australian Department of Education. Prior to these appointments, she headed the NSW Department of Education and Communities, one of Australia’s largest state government departments that had direct responsibility for more than 2,200 schools and a workforce of more than 84,000 people providing services across the state.

In April 2017, Dr Bruniges became the first Australian appointed to Chair the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development’s (OECD) Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) Governing Board.

In her earlier executive career, Dr Bruniges headed the ACT Department of Education and held senior roles in the Australian Government’s then Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations.

Dr Bruniges’ qualifications include a PhD in Educational Measurement and a Masters in Education. She is also a Graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors, a Churchill Fellow, a Fellow of Australian College of Educators and a Fellow of the Australian Council for Educational Leaders.

Dr Bruniges is a Member of the Order of Australia, given in 2012 for service to public administration through executive roles, and as a contributor to reform in the education sector at state and national levels. Also in 2012, Dr Bruniges was a joint recipient of Inaugural 100 Women of Influence Awards – for her work in public policy.

In 2015, Dr Bruniges received national recognition for her significant contribution to education as the recipient of the Australian Council for Educational Leaders Gold Medal Award. That year, she was also awarded the Australian College of Educators’ Sir Harold Wyndham Medal for her contribution to the education of young people in NSW.

The Australian College of Educators’ highest award, its 2019 College Medal, was presented to Dr Bruniges for her outstanding and sustained contributions to the fields of education and across a range of sectors.

Deputy Secretaries

Dr Ros Baxter

Dr Ros Baxter - Early Childhood and Child Care

Dr Ros Baxter will join the department on Monday 10 February to take up the role of Deputy Secretary of the Early Childhood and Child Care Group. Prior to this, she was the Deputy Secretary of Integrity and Information at the Department of Human Services. Ros is a very experienced senior APS leader, having led policy functions across several departments including the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet and the Department of Social Services.

Dr Jill Charker

Dr Jill Charker, Deputy Secretary Department Integration Taskforce

Dr Charker is the Deputy Secretary – Department Integration Taskforce at the Department of Education, Skills and Employment.

Dr Charker has also held senior positions with the Department of Human Services, Department of Immigration and Border Protection, ComSuper and the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

Dr Charker holds a PhD from Griffith University, and a Class 1 Honours degree in Psychology, majoring in statistics. In addition, she has completed an Executive Masters degree in Public Administration through the Australia and New Zealand School of Government. She is a graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors, and a Level 2 qualified executive coach through the Institute of Executive Coaching and Leadership.

Alex Gordon

Alex Gordon - Deputy Secretary, Schools

Alex Gordon is the Deputy Secretary for the Schools Group in the Department of Education, Skills and Employment.

Since joining the department in 2010, Alex has held a number of senior leadership roles driving major reforms in school funding, data collection and analytics, national curriculum and assessment, quality teaching and preschool. Alex has worked across a range of public policy issues within Government, community organisations and the private sector. This includes working on issues of social policy, energy and climate change, water, infrastructure and regional development.

Alex holds a Bachelor of Science from the University of Sydney and a Master of Science from the University of Oxford.

Rob Heferen

Rob Heferen - Higher Education, International and Research

Rob Heferen joined the Department of Education on 2 December 2019 as Deputy Secretary Higher Education, Research and International. Prior to this Rob was Deputy Secretary at the Department of the Environment and Energy and had responsibility for energy policy including electricity and gas markets, and fuel security. Rob was Australia’s representative on the International Energy Agency’s Governing Board.

In April 2016 Rob was Deputy Secretary with the Department of Industry, Innovation and Science with responsibilities for Energy, Resources and the Office of Northern Australia. Before joining the Department of Industry, Innovation and Science, Rob was the Deputy Secretary, Revenue Group with The Treasury from March 2011 – April 2016.

Rob’s other roles in the Australian Public Service have been in Customs, the ATO, Treasury and in the Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs.

Marcus Markovic

Marcus Markovic, Deputy Secretary/Chief Operating Officer, Corporate and Enabling Services Group

Marcus Markovic is the Deputy Secretary for the Corporate and Enabling Services Group in the Department of Education, Skills and Employment.

Previously, Marcus was the department's Chief Financial Officer with responsibility for Finance, Technology and Business Services.

Marcus has a long career in the Australian Public Service. Prior to his role in Department of Education, he held senior executive roles in the Department of Human Services, ComSuper and the Australian Taxation Office.

Nathan Smyth

Nathan Smyth, Deputy Secretary – Employment

Nathan Smyth is the Deputy Secretary for the Employment Group in at the Department of Education, Skills and Employment.

Prior to joining the Department of Education, Skills and Employment, he held the position of First Assistant Secretary, Western Sydney Unit, Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development with oversight for the planning, construction and financing of the second Sydney airport.

Nathan has held senior positions at the Department of Finance, the Department of Health, and the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

Jackie Wilson

Jackie Wilson — Deputy Secretary, Disability Strategy Taskforce

Jackie Wilson is the Deputy Secretary leading the Department of Education, Skills and Employment’s Disability Strategy Taskforce. The Taskforce is responsible for whole-of-department policy strategy for disability, and will undertake the 2020 Review of the Disability Standards for Education and provide policy input to the National Disability Strategy 2020-2030 being led by the Department of Social Services. The Taskforce is also supporting the Department’s involvement with the Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of People with Disability.

Prior to this, Jackie was the Deputy Secretary for Early Childhood and Child Care and over a six year period led the development and implementation of the child care reforms which commenced in July 2018. The package of reforms was the most significant in 40 years.

Ms Wilson has had a long career in the Australian Public Service and was a Deputy Secretary at the Departments of Social Services, Prime Minister and Cabinet, and Immigration. Jackie has held senior positions in program and policy areas covering health, disability, community services, education, employment, budget and finance.

Jackie has a Bachelor of Science degree from the Australian National University and is a graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors.

Nadine Williams

Nadine Williams, Deputy Secretary – Skills and Training

Nadine Williams is Deputy Secretary for the Skills and Training Group in the Department of Education, Skills and Employment.

Nadine has a background in microeconomic and regulatory reform and 25 years of experience in leading complex reform agendas at both the Commonwealth and State government level.

Nadine has held senior roles in the Department of Education and Training, the Department of Communications and the Arts, the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, the Department of Finance and the NSW Government. She has worked across a broad range of public policy issues, oversaw the delivery of consumer regulation; regional communications policy and programs; and the National Broadband Network including employment and training policy in the Indigenous Affairs portfolio; environment and agricultural policy; and COAG regulatory and competition reform.

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