Australia’s public sector and universities must continue to work together to safely steer the nation through the COVID-19 pandemic and drive a sustained economic recovery over the years ahead, says the incoming chair of the Sir Roland Wilson Foundation at The Australian National University (ANU).
Dr Martin Parkinson AC PSM replaces Dr Ken Henry AC, who served as chair from 2013 to 2021 and on the Sir Roland Wilson Foundation board from 2001.
The Sir Roland Wilson Foundation builds research-informed public policy, capability and leadership through postgraduate scholarships and professional development for public servants.
Dr Parkinson has served as secretary of the Treasury and the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet among many high-profile leadership roles across a range of portfolios in his stellar public service career.
Dr Parkinson, who is also an ANU graduate, said he was looking forward to working with the public service to connect the latest research to address some of Australia’s biggest challenges.
“Now more than ever, Australia needs public policy that is informed by the best thinking and the latest research and ideas, particularly as we look to rebuild after COVID,” Dr Parkinson said.
“It may not always grab headlines, but public policy shapes the quality of our lives every single day.
If we get it right, public policy has the potential to benefit the lives of all Australians. If we get it wrong, the costs are huge and long lasting.
“From housing, to services, to education and health, a strong, informed and ready public service means a better Australia.
“We also need to make sure our public servants are equipped with the latest knowledge to tackle some of the most complex challenges our nation currently faces – whether that be international security, inequality, pandemics, climate change, reconciliation or racism.
“The Foundation’s scholarships give public servants the freedom and time to deep dive into these ‘wicked problems’ – while also being supported by some of the world’s best researchers.
“I am looking forward to working with the Sir Roland Wilson Foundation, ANU, Charles Darwin University and the Australian Public Service to empower Australia’s public servants and support their vital work to improve our nation.”
Dr Henry said he could think of no better candidate than Dr Parkinson.
“In Martin, Australia has an individual committed to serving the nation and its betterment.
“Throughout his illustrious public service career, Martin has helped advance Australia and improve lives.
"He is dedicated to making sure all Australians enjoy and have access to the incredible opportunities our nation affords.
“Today, the highest-quality public service craft and capability is essential. Martin is a true master of the craft.
“I am pleased that he has taken up this role at the Sir Roland Wilson Foundation and look forward to seeing the positive outcomes he helps deliver.”
ANU Vice-Chancellor Professor Brian Schmidt AC thanked Dr Henry for his 20 years of dedication and work at the Sir Roland Wilson Foundation and welcomed Dr Parkinson.
“Universities are places that foster big ideas. The public service uses big ideas to help inform and shape public policy, and that’s why the work of the Sir Roland Wilson Foundation is so important,” Professor Schmidt said.
“In both Ken and Martin our Sir Roland Wilson Foundation scholars have the chance to learn from two giants of the public service who have inspired big ideas every day of their careers.”
Dr Henry will maintain his ties with ANU as he helps the University with its Below Zero Initiative.
The Sir Roland Wilson Foundation’s scholarships provide research and development opportunities for public servants across a range of fields, including public administration, economic and social policy, data and cyber security, law, and environment and climate management. The scholarship program was an initiative put forward by Dr Henry.