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Winners of the 2017 Institute of Public Administration Australia WA (IPAA WA) Achievement Awards were announced at a special Awards luncheon held on Friday 30th June 2017 at the Hyatt Regency Perth.

The Achievement Awards offer seven categories for entry, with a total of fifteen awards. Ten open to individuals and five best practice awards for organisations.

Patron’s Award

The highest accolade in public administration in WA awarded to an individual who has made a significant contribution to the State.

WINNER: Susan Hunt PSM – Chief Executive Officer, Zoological Parks Authority

Susan has been the CEO of Perth Zoo since 2004.  During this time, the Zoo has experienced strong growth in commercial revenue and achieved and maintained its highest public approval levels. Susan has been the driving force behind the transformation of the Zoo from a ‘recreation facility’ to that of a wildlife conservation organisation.  Her passion for wildlife conservation has extended to the regional sphere through her membership of the committees and the Board of the Zoo and Aquarium Zoo Association (ZAA Australasia), and to the global sphere through her membership of the committees and the Board of the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums (WAZA). Since October 2015, Susan has been the President of WAZA. In establishing wildlife conservation as one of Perth Zoo’s core objectives, Susan has ensured the relevance of the Zoo into the future.  The research undertaken by the Zoo contributes to the global knowledge bank of wildlife conservation medicine, husbandry, breeding, and welfare. Susan was awarded a Public Service Medal (PSM) by the Governor General of Australia in the 2010 Australia Day Honours list for her outstanding contribution to conservation and public service.  In 2013, Susan was invited by the Public Sector Commissioner to be a member of the inaugural CEO Advisory Group to the Centre for Public Sector Excellence.

Leader of the Year (4 Awards)

The winner of this award will be working in a senior position and have clearly demonstrated leadership qualities. He/She will be respected and demonstrate excellence in leading a team to meet designated objectives and outcomes in the interests of public service.

Murdoch University Leader of the Year Working in State or Federal Government

WINNER: David Etherton – Chief Executive Officer, VenuesWest

David acts with clarity of purpose, consistency and transparency.  As a result, VenuesWest’s clear strategic direction and intent can be felt in its interactions and stakeholders have provided overwhelming feedback to this effect. David embodies the characteristics of an adaptive leader, his capacity to mobilise people to tackle tough challenges and thrive has been demonstrated numerous times during his tenure as CEO.  His capacity to look at long term solutions, rather than quick fixes has ensured that strategic growth and change has been embraced by customers and employees alike. David’s leadership style ensures that he builds trust with those he is working with.  Evidence of this has been the significant growth of the portfolio from four venues to thirteen venues during his tenure as CEO and multiple transitions of complex business including the management of catering, Perth Motorplex and nib Stadium, ensuring continuity of operations for stakeholders and customers.

SPECIAL COMMENDATION: Terry Hill – Chief Executive Officer, Pilbara Development Commission

Hyatt Regency Perth Award Leader of the Year Working in the Not for Profit Sector

WINNER: Angie Paskevicius – Chief Executive Officer, Holyoake

Angie Paskevicius is an inspiring, visionary and dynamic leader. Everything she does is driven by her desire to improve services to empower people in the community. Among the many examples of Angie’s visionary leadership is the transformation of DRUMBEAT® into a globally successful social enterprise. This innovative program which was developed by Holyoake in Western Australia is now achieving positive outcomes around the world. Independent research, evaluations and peer reviewed journal studies have highlighted the immense power of this program. Angie’s philosophy on leading and managing people is based on an orchestra. Much like the conductor, she has chosen a team carefully and brings the best out of each person to create a harmony that delivers effective outcomes to individuals and the community. As a result of her astute leadership, Holyoake’s annual turnover has increased by over 300%, is financially sustainable and achieves better social outcomes.

Leader of the Year Working within a Division / Team / Organisation

WINNER: Karen Roberts – Director Human Resources, Department of Fire and Emergency Services

Appointed to the DFES senior executive service role of Director Human Resources in February 2010, Karen Roberts is responsible for the delivery and ongoing strategic management of DFES’ HR functions.  Karen’s role is critical in ensuring HR services are available and delivered to approximately 29,000 volunteers, 1,200 career firefighters and 300 corporate and technical staff across all corners of WA who support and provide critical fire and emergency services on a 24/7 basis.

Karen is committed to enhancing the capacity and capability of staff and volunteers which in turn delivers to the community DFES serves.  Karen’s record of achievements include (but is not limited to) innovation in recruitment and diversity through the Aboriginal firefighter cadetship program; implementation of reforms in DFES’ workers compensation and injury management (WCIM) systems; development of a 10 year volunteer sustainability strategy; and the elevation of mental health training and awareness as an important organisation-wide initiative.

SPECIAL COMMENDATION: Dominique Mecoy – Director Client Services, Metropolitan Cemeteries Board

Young Leader of the Year

The winner of this award will have emerging leadership qualities; a thirst for knowledge and a commitment to learning. Making a difference by demonstrating best practice in the public service.

WINNER: Luke Gibson – Manager Planning Implementation, City of Gosnells

There are currently many challenges facing those working in the planning profession. These include facilitating infill development, delivering transit oriented development and establishing the framework for affordable housing to name but three.  Luke Gibson has worked to address these challenges with enthusiasm and competence. He consistently demonstrates innovation and creativity in his approach to planning within the City of Gosnells. His outstanding leadership and management style encourages further innovation from his team members and together they have overcome problems which have allowed quality development to progress within the City. Luke is an excellent advocate for the City whose outstanding communication and negotiation skills have enhanced the City’s relationship with its stakeholders, in particular with State Government agencies and developers.

Best Practitioner in the Public Service (4 Awards)

The winner of each of these awards will be working at manager level or higher. He/She will be a respected practitioner and demonstrate excellence in high achievement in their field of expertise.

Human Resource Management Practitioner of the Year

WINNER: Karen Roberts – Director Human Resources, Department of Fire and Emergency Services

As Director Human Resources, Karen brings qualities of professionalism, tenacity and tireless determination to ensure the Department is agile and adaptable to the challenges of its workers, volunteers and the community. Empowerment, continual learning and working collaboratively are recurring tenets of Karen’s leadership style.  She leads by example actively encouraging and championing continual learning and improvement to deliver a capable and resilient workforce.  Karen’s commitment to improvement has created a culture of professionalism with an embedded approach to evidence based solutions, engaging with leading research and supported by robust evaluation practices.  She inspires a sense of purpose and direction among her peers and  colleagues in a complex environment. Karen is highly regarded by the DFES leadership team as well as her peers for not only her innovative approach to addressing complex and challenging workforce issues but her capacity and willingness to share her knowledge for the benefit of the community.

Information Technology Practitioner of the Year

WINNER: Christian Thompson – Executive Director – Business Information Systems, Department of Transport

As the Executive Director for the Business Information and Systems (BIS), Christian Thompson has provided strategic leadership, direction and technical advice to critical areas of the Department of Transport (DOT). He has focused IT resources to enable the organisation to develop customer focused systems and services and provide more choice, flexibility and security to enhance our customers’ experience when interacting with DoT. He has repositioned his directorate to become a strategic business partner to DoT’s disparate business units, the Transport portfolio and across WA to ensure key information technology related business outcomes are achieved. Christian has also developed processes that ensure good Governance and prioritisation that is consistent with Government objectives. He is a value driven person and a team player who builds trust and is always working to ensure better outcome for WA citizens.

SPECIAL COMMENDATION: Arun Thavasi – ICT Manager, Pilbara Ports Authority

Department of Fisheries Award Policy Practitioner of the Year

WINNER: Sandra Eckert – General Counsel, Department of Lands

Sandra was appointed as General Counsel of the Department of Lands in 2010 having now had a legal career spanning 30 years in private practice and in house Government legal positions. Sandra, in her role as General Counsel is responsible for managing a Legal Services division comprising 9 lawyers and one legal secretary. She is currently working almost exclusively leading the Department’s extensive legislative program in amending the Land Administration Act 1997 as well as undertaking high level strategic policy initiatives for the Department. Sandra’s expertise is sought internally and externally within Government to provide high level legal and policy guidance in relation to tenure for major State government proposals such as the Heads of Agreement she drafted for Anzac House recently. As a member of the Department’s Strategic Policy Corporate Executive her ability to strategically consider and provide solutions is greatly appreciated by the Director General and colleagues.

Department of Finance Award Finance Practitioner of the Year

WINNER: Philippa Beamish-Burton – Chief Finance Officer, Department for Child Protection and Family Support

Philippa was appointed as a graduate accountant in October 2005. Her exceptional capabilities, along with her technical financial management and budgetary expertise saw her quickly promoted through the ranks, culminating in her appointment to Chief Finance Officer for the Department in July 2014. From graduate accountant to CFO in less than 10 years is a remarkable achievement for any accountant. Child protection is one of the most complex and challenging areas of work in the human services industry and the public sector and Philippa’s work has positioned the Department to continue to deliver effective services that enable children and young people to have better life outcomes. Philippa’s dedication, expertise and utmost professionalism is outstanding in all that she does.

Business News Award Innovation in the Not-for-Profit Sector

The winning organisation of this award will demonstrate the implementation and use of innovative practices and approaches to meet community and public service objectives.

WINNER: The Royal Life Saving Society WA –  Multicultural Swimming and Water Safety Strategy

The Royal Life Saving Society seeks to empower the WA community to be safe when in or on the water and to lead efforts to reduce the impact of drowning. Culturally and linguistically diverse (CaLD) communities are over represented in drowning statistics and many new arrivals to Western Australia have poor or non-existent swimming and water safety skills. Last year 24.3% of drowning deaths were born overseas. Of these two thirds were from non-English speaking backgrounds. Royal Life Saving started with the motive of addressing this concerning drowning statistic. They ended up delivering is a range of activities and programs that not only achieved personal safety outcomes but also broader social outcomes in terms of inclusion, education, health and fitness.

SPECIAL COMMENDATION: Financial Counselling Network

Best Practice in Collaboration (2 Awards)

The award will go to a project or an ongoing practice that demonstrates high level collaboration and coordination across organisations to meet a priority objective in the delivery of service to the community.

Best Practice in Collaboration Between Government and Non Government Organisations

Note: two winners in 2017

WINNER: City of Cockburn; Curtin University – Cockburn Health & Community

The Cockburn Health & Community (CHC) complex was built to help address a major public health issue in the Cockburn area of Perth’s southwest metropolitan region. Here, rising levels of obesity and a lack of effective intervention programs was an increasing concern for health-care professionals and the community. Led by the City of Cockburn, the CHC project was accomplished through the implementation of a tailored partnership model and the formation of exemplary strategic partnerships. The keystone of CHC is Cockburn Integrated Health and its comprehensive range of medical  and health services. CHC also hosts several support organisations, including a Multicultural Centre, a new regional library, and Medicare and Centrelink Human Services agencies. Overall, the success of the CHC development is enabling the City of Cockburn to help meet the health and support services needs of its local community, and facilitate an improvement in community health and wellbeing.

WINNER: WA Museum – Yurlmun: Mokare Mia Boodja

Yurlmun: Mokare Mia Boodja (Returning to Mokare’s Home Country) was a small, yet powerful, exhibition that centred upon fourteen rare, significant objects that originated from the Menang Nyoongar people, the traditional inhabitants of Western Australia’s Albany area. These objects were traded or gifted to Europeans in the 1800s and are now held by the British Museum (BM). Through a core partnership between the Albany Heritage Reference Group Aboriginal Corporation (AHRGAC), the Western Australian Museum (WAM) and the BM, the Yurlmun project sought to reconnect the Menang community with the objects, facilitating interpretation, community engagement, personal response and the sharing of cultural knowledge. This project is unprecedented in Australia, in that it the first time that the BM has worked with a museum and community in Australia to lend a full collection back to its place of origin, and with Traditional Owners so deeply involved in the loan.

SPECIAL COMMENDATION: Eastern Metropolitan Regional Council – Eastern Region Catchment Management Program

Best Practice in Collaboration Across Government Agencies

WINNER: Western Australian Museum – Dirk Hartog 1616 Project

In 2016, the Western Australian Museum led cross-government initiatives commemorating the 400th anniversary of the first known European contact with Western Australia. These included: an interpretive trail at Cape Inscription including a monument on the site of the landing; an interpretive hub in Denham highlighting the maritime history of Shark Bay; a contemporary and engaging public art piece on the Denham foreshore; an innovative interactive multimedia experience in the Shark Bay World Heritage Discovery Centre covering 400 years of European voyages to the southern oceans; a new website commemorating the landing and presenting the story of early European involvement in Australia including contact with Indigenous peoples; a travelling exhibition Accidental Encounters about early European maritime contacts with Western Australia; and a temporary exhibition Travellers and Traders in the Indian Ocean World, featuring significant objects including the Hartog dish, which was opened by King Willem-Alexander and Queen Maxima of the Netherlands.

Organisation Demonstrating Best Practice

Excellence in demonstration and delivery of programs, policies and approaches in public values in corporate citizenry, social responsibility and welfare of staff are the two foci of this award. Organisations must demonstrate ongoing delivery and commitment in these areas.

Department of Health Award Best Practice in Health and Wellbeing

WINNER: Department of Mines and Petroleum – Working on Wellness (WoW) program

In 2013 the WoW program was awarded the IPAA award for Best Practice in Health and Wellbeing. In the nomination we demonstrated a strategic focus that was aligned with DMP’s Safety Management System (SMS). Since then, the WoW program has continued to focus on present health concerns of staff, the community, workforce data and evidence based research.

Some of the new innovative WoW strategies and events introduced in the 2016 calendar were:

  • Onsite gym.
  • Fitness assessments by an exercise physiologist.
  • Healthy weight loss program.
  • Focus on mental health initiatives.
  • Targeted strategies for the departments ageing workforce.
  • Healthy cooking demonstrations by local chefs.
  • Partnering with health professionals to develop presentations on emerging trends.

The WoW program demonstrates excellence in public administration and management with executive leadership, allocated resources, good planning process and governance and it has been continuously improved.

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