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Our Senior Executive Team

Left to right: Deputy Secretaries John Murphy and Rebecca Cross, Chief Operating Officer Andrew Wood, Secretary Renee Leon,

Deputy Secretaries Amanda Cattermole, Barry Jackson and Catherine Rule, and Chief Information Officer Charles McHardie.


Our department provides essential services to almost every Australian. Through Medicare, social welfare, aged care, child support and crisis recovery programs, we have the privilege and responsibility of helping people meet life’s most fundamental challenges.

To continue to do so effectively, efficiently and equitably, we are transforming the way we work inside the department and with our customers.

2017–18 in numbers

  • $173.4 billion in payments
  • More than 3.3 million social security and welfare claims
  • More than 62 000 aged care claims
  • More than 419 million Medicare services

Customer engagement

Customer-centred design—learning from our customers and transforming our services around their needs—is one of our top priorities. In 2017–18, we expanded our Voice of the Customer research initiative, which reveals how customers experience their interactions with us and closely involves them in shaping the services we offer.

For example, in 2017–18, with input from students, we made more than 45 online and behind-the-scenes improvements that make it easier for students to claim and manage their payments. Each improvement delivered a new digital service, improved an existing system or removed a manual process.

Digital transformation

We are transforming the way we provide services, with the ambition of being truly excellent at service delivery.

The take-up of our online services continues to increase. For example, for the 2017–18 financial year, the percentage of Medicare services claimed digitally rose to 97.9 per cent and a significant number of practices sent 100 per cent of their claims digitally. At the same time, we improved our Medicare card security systems and raised awareness of the importance of safeguarding personal information.

We shared our digital expertise with the Department of Veterans’ Affairs (DVA), enabling important veteran centric service reforms and adding DVA staff to our payroll system.

We successfully delivered the second tranche of welfare improvements, laying strong foundations for the next level of transformation. Our transformation is no longer just a promise or a vision; we have demonstrated that we can do it. This is a whole-of-department venture—it is about much more than information and communications technology (ICT) or payments reform.

Collaboration and innovation

We increased our use of multidisciplinary teams to plan and deliver projects in a more integrated way. As well as enabling us to deliver joined-up services, this approach provides exciting opportunities for cross-skilling and staff development.

We also found innovative ways to deploy our workforce differently. For example, through considered staff planning we are making our call centres more flexible and better able to handle high volumes of calls.

Staff engagement

Helping our staff to feel valued and motivated at a time of profound change has been an important focus over the past year.

Information is a powerful enabler of engagement. People need to understand the context, what is going to change, why it is going to change and how they will be involved and consulted. By opening up lines of communication in every direction, we are keeping all our staff informed and involved as we transform our business.

Investing in leadership at all levels is a significant priority for the department and for me as Secretary. That starts with our team leaders in service centres and goes all the way up to our senior executives in Canberra. We recognise leadership as a skill and expect it to be performed at the same high standard that we expect to see in customer service and every other deliverable.

In November 2017, we achieved our target of 5 per cent Indigenous employees. I am proud to lead an organisation that is driving reconciliation in the Australian Public Service (APS) through our employment practices and our exemplary Reconciliation Action Plan.


Both personally and on behalf of the department, I thank my predecessor, Kathryn Campbell CSC, for the vision and commitment she brought to the role. After six distinguished years, she has left an indelible legacy of achievement.

I also thank all our staff and our colleagues across the APS for making the department’s successes over the past year possible. Our staff inspire me every day with their dedication to those who rely on us. I look forward to continuing with them on the journey towards making our services as great as they can be in 2018–19 and beyond.

Renée Leon PSM
Department of Human Services