Peter Shergold


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The Board of Trustees elected Professor Peter Shergold AC as its chair and the new Chancellor of the University in 2010. His term began on 1 January 2011 and has recently been extended until December 2020. He is an active member of the University Chancellors Council (UCC) and was elected as the Council's convenor in 2016, with his term due to end in late 2018.

Peter received a B.A. Hons (First Class) in Politics and American Studies from the University of Hull; an M.A. in History at the University of Illinois at Chicago Circle; and a PhD in Economics from London School of Economics.

In 1972 he migrated to Australia to take up a lectureship at the University of New South Wales and in 1985 became Head of the Department of Economic History. He published extensively on British and American labour history, convict transportation to NSW and immigration to Australia.  He also taught for periods at the University of Illinois, Southampton University, London School of Economics and Pennsylvania State University. He has twice been awarded a Fulbright Scholarship and remains a Senior University Fellow of the Singapore Civil Service College.

He was elected a Fellow of The Academy of Social Sciences (FASSA) in Australia in 2005. He has also been made a Fellow of the Australia and New Zealand School of Government (ANZSOG), the Institute of Public Administration Australia (IPAA), the Australian Institute of Company Directors (AICD) and the Australian Institute of Management (AIM).

Leaving academic life in 1987, Peter became a CEO in the Australian Public Service (APS) for two decades, working with Prime Ministers and Ministers from both sides of politics. His first job was to establish the Office of Multicultural Affairs. From 1991 he headed the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission (ATSIC) and from July 1994 he was Chief Executive Officer of Comcare. He was appointed Australian Public Service Commissioner from September 1995 to February 1998. He served as Secretary of the Department of Employment, Workplace Relations and Small Business from 1998 until 2002 and then became the Secretary of the Department of Education, Science and Training.

In February 2003, Peter was asked by the Prime Minister, John Howard, to serve as Secretary of the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, becoming the nation's most senior public servant.  He did so for 5 years. During that time the so-called 'Shergold Report' (actually the report of the Task Group on Emissions Trading) was presented to – and accepted by – the Commonwealth government. He managed the transition to government of the new Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd, leaving the APS in February 2008.

Peter was made a Member in the Order of Australia (AM) for public service on Australia Day 1996 and was presented with the Centenary Medal in 2003. In 2007, he received Australia's highest award, the Companion in the Order of Australia (AC) for service to the community. The honour acknowledged Peter as a significant leader of change and innovation in the public sector, particularly through the development and implementation of a whole-of-government approach to policy development and program delivery.

In addition to his Western Sydney University role Peter now serves as a non-executive director on the Boards of AMP Ltd and its subsidiaries, AMP Life and AMP Bank (AMP is a major, publicly-listed wealth protection and management company)  and Corrs Chambers Westgarth (an independent law firm). He chairs Opal Aged Care (Australia's major provider of residential aged care). He is also a director of a capital start-up in the area of quantum security, QuintessenceLabs.

In the not-for-profit field he has been the chair of the Australian Rural Leadership Foundation, the deputy chair of the Sydney Writers' Festival and is now a patron of the Left-Right Think Tank. He is a member of the State Library Council of NSW.

In the government arena he chairs the National Centre for Vocational Education Research, and has been chair of the Aged Care Reform Implementation Council and the Aged Care Sector Committee. He headed the Ministerial Expert Group on Gambling for the Commonwealth Government under Prime Minister Rudd and, in Western Australia was asked to lead the Governments/not-for-profit Partnership Forum under Premier Colin Barnett. In 2013 he completed a report on community service sector reform for the Victorian government.

He served on the Queensland Public Sector Renewal Board and was chair of the TEQSA Advisory Council. He now chairs the Commonwealth's Higher Education Standards Panel. Peter also remains chair of the NSW Public Service Commission Advisory Board. He has recently led a Commonwealth Review of the Implementation of Large Public Programs, publishing his report as Learning from Failure (opens in new window)Opens in a new window.

Peter speaks regularly at major conferences on issues such as public administration, aged care, higher and vocational education, social value, impact investment and community engagement. In his spare time he walks, plays tennis, skis and writes.




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