Movers & Shakers, Government | August – September, 2021

Lorraine Finlay AHRC
Australia's newly appointed Human Rights Commissioner, Lorraine Finlay

The Federal Government appoints standalone Human Rights Commissioner, backtracking on a previous call to scrap the role; and former federal and state ministers join the newly launched tech advocacy body the Technology Council of Australia.

– The Federal Government has appointed Lorraine Finlay as its next Human Rights Commissioner, with the Government backtracking on its previous calls not to appoint a standalone commissioner.

Finlay, a specialist in human rights trafficking law, currently serves with the Department of Foreign Affairs’ Australian Mission to ASEAN and as a lecturer in law at Murdoch University.

A former president of the WA Liberal Women’s Council and WA state prosecutor, Finlay has been a noted past critic of the Human Rights Commission, at one point labelling its conduct during a 2016 Racial Discrimination Act case as “disgraceful”.

Finlay replaces Ed Santow, a long-time advocate for ethical and responsible tech development. Santow was a key force behind the AHRC’s recent paper on algorithmic bias in AI systems.

The AHRC welcomed the decision to once again appoint a dedicated Human Rights Commissioner after the Government had considered folding the role into the existing functions of the Human Rights Commission President following the departure of Santow.

Finlay commences her new role in November.


Services Australia has appointed Deepak Vangani as Director of its soon-to-be-launched Cloud Centre of Excellence (CoE).

As reported by iTnews, the CoE is in the early stages of development within the citizens services agency, with the new cloud transformation body to be tasked with accelerating its shift to as-a-service infrastructure and platforms.


South Australia’s Department of Premier and Cabinet has appointed Mike Diakomichalis as Executive Director of Customer Experience.

As the DPC’s CX chief, Diakomichalis will be responsible for leading “an across-government customer experience program” that facilitates “business with government”.

Diakomichalis arrives from the financial services sector, most recently serving as Director and Business Manager to the Chief Executive at Bank SA. He also previously served two decades at SA Bank parent company Westpac.

Notably, the SA DPC is currently led by former Bank SA Chief Executive Nick Reade.


– The Victorian Electoral Commission’s (VEC) Chief Information Officer, Jonathan Underwood, has reportedly left the agency.

Underwood’s departure, which occurred last month, comes after a significant overhaul of VEC’s IT environment.

Underwood was appointed to the role in August 2017, serving four years. Prior to this, he was at the Department of Justice and Regulation’s Victorian Racing Integrity Unit.


– The Federal Government has reappointed Andrew Stevens as Chair of the Data Standards Body until February 2023.

The Body oversees the regulatory framework for the Consumer Data Right (CDR), the cross-industry consumer data-sharing regime. Stevens was first appointed to the role back in 2018.

“[Andrew] Stevens’ reappointment will provide important continuity and expert advice to support the accelerated rollout of the CDR across the economy, said superannuation, financial services and digital economy minister Jane Hume.

Hume noted that the CDR is now entering “a period of multi-sector expansion”, with the official 2020 launch of the CDR’s first phase, known as ‘Open Banking’, expected to be followed soon by the energy and then telecommunications sectors.

Stevens formerly served as Managing Director of IBM Australia, and is currently Chair of the Industry, Innovation and Science Australia Board.


– The Technology Council of Australia made its official launch last month, with Tesla’s Robyn Denholm appointed as Chair of the Council’s board.

Former federal minister Wyatt Roy and Queensland minister Kate Jones will be among 10 members of the Council, which also includes local tech industry heavy-weights Scott Farquhar, Co-Chief Executive, Atlassian (Director) and Anthony Eisen, Co-Founder and co-Chief Executive, Afterpay (Director).

Among the 25 foundational member companies to join the Council include ‘bigtechs’ Google and Microsoft, local software giant Atlassian, and fintechs Afterpay and Tyro.

The Council said it would work with governments “at all levels” to promote and advocate for opportunities within the technology space.

“We aim to advise and engage with Australian governments, businesses and the wider community to help support the ongoing creation, development, and adoption of technology across industries,” the Council says on its website.


– The Perth Mint has appointed Brad Wearn as its inaugural Chief Information Officer.

The appointment comes as the Mint prepares for a whole-of-organisation cloud migration program, adopting “a platform-based approach”, taking advantage of recent investments in Microsoft Azure, Dynamics 365 and Microsoft 365.

“We’ll be transforming from a traditional in-house application and infrastructure-focused team to one that embraces platform thinking and drives the business adoption of strategic digital platforms,” Wearn said.

Wearn most recently served as Chief Information Officer at BHP Iron Ore, and prior to this at BHP spinoff South32.


Victoria University has announced the creation of a new Chief Digital Officer role.

The new CDO will be tasked with developing a “digital master plan” for the University, in addition to providing strategic advice to senior leaders and improving the institution’s cybersecurity capabilities and awareness.

The new CDO will report directly to recently appointed vice-chancellor Adam Shoemaker, who stepped into the role in December 2020.


– The NSW Government has appointed Jim Betts as Secretary of the Department of Premier and Cabinet. He commences his new role in October.

Betts most recently served as Secretary of the Department of Planning, Industry and Environment and was previously Chief Executive of Infrastructure NSW.

He replaced outgoing Secretary Tim Reardon.


– The Australian Taxation Office (ATO) has appointed Steve Dardaneliotis as Assistant Commissioner, External Delivery Services and Strategy.

Naomi Westwood has also been appointed Assistant Commissioner, Business Information Services at the ATO.


Martin Halloran has resigned from Australia’s Department of Defence where he served as Head of Australian Industry Capability.

The role was created in February 2020 to address concerns from local small and medium contractors that they were missing out on key Defence contracts.

Halloran has since emerged at Babcock Australasia, appointed Director of Strategy and Future Business at the military engineering and training services firm.


Department of Parliamentary Services has formally appointed Heather Walsh as Assistant Secretary, Library Collections and Databases Branch.

Walsh was previously acting in the role.


– The Australian Broadband Advisory Council has appointed Dr Bronwyn Evans and Vince Pizzica. The appointments follow the departure of Jan Müller.

Evans currently serves as Chief Executive of Engineers Australia and Chair of the Building 4.0 Cooperative Research Centre, while Pizzica comes from the media and telecommunications industries where he has served in various senior-level roles.

Praising the appointments, Minister for Communications, Urban Infrastructure, Cities and the Arts, Paul Fletcher said the Council “provides important advice on how we can maximise the economic and social benefits from the widespread adoption of high-speed digital networks, including through increased take-up and use of the NBN and 5G”.


– The Northern Territory Government has appointed Sandy Otto as its Consumer Affairs Commissioner.

Otto has worked with NT Consumer Affairs for more than 12 years and is noted for her “high-level experience in fair trading operations, business management, human resources and media relations”.

She most recently served as the NT’s Acting Consumer Affairs Commissioner, after being appointed to Deputy Commissioner in 2013.