Professor Peter Shergold

Chair, Centre for Social Impact / Chancellor, Western Sydney University

Professor Peter Shergold AC is the Chancellor of Western Sydney University and Chair of the Centre for Social Impact's Board.

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.

Peter migrated to Australia in 1982 to take up a lecturing position at the University of New South Wales. He became Head of the Department of Economic History in 1986. As an academic he received two Fulbright scholarships to study in the U.S.A. In 2017 he was awarded a Doctor of Letters (Honoris Causa) by the University of New South Wales.

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 (FANZSOG), the Institute of Public Administration Australia (FIPAA), the Australian Institute of Company Directors (FAICD) and the Australian Institute of Management (AIM). In 2018 he was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of NSW (FRSN). From 2017-2019 he served as National President of IPAA.

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.

In addition to his Western Sydney University role Peter is also Coordinator General for Refugee Resettlement in NSW. He chairs Opal Aged Care (residential aged care) and Joblife (disability employment). He has also served as a non-executive director on the Boards of AMP Ltd and its subsidiaries, AMP Life and AMP Bank from 2008–2017; and as an external director of Corrs Chambers Westgarth from 2009-2016. He is a member of O’Connell Street Associates.

In the not-for-profit field Peter has been the chair of the Australian Rural Leadership Foundation, the deputy chair of the Sydney Writers’ Festival, patron of the Left-Right Think Tank and a member of the State Library Council of NSW. He was CEO of the Centre for Social Impact from 2008–2011 and is now its chair. He is also chair of the AMP Foundation and serves on the board of Australia for UNHCR.

In the government arena he chaired the NSW Public Services Commission Advisory Board from 2011-2019. He has also been chair of the Aged Care Reform Implementation Council, the Aged Care Sector Committee and the Forum on Western Sydney Airport. He headed the Ministerial Expert Group on Gambling for the Commonwealth government under Prime Minister Rudd. In Western Australia he was asked to lead the government/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 on major public projects.

Peter wrote a major report, Learning from Failure, which was handed to the Commonwealth government in 2015. He has also chaired reviews into Medicare Card security (2017); the implementation of the National Construction Code (2017–2018), Refugee Settlement (2019) and Senior Secondary Pathways for Students (2020).

Peter remains active in education. Peter was appointed chair of the NSW Education Standards Authority (NESA) in 2020. He has been chair of the TEQSA Advisory Council (oversighting the regulation of universities) and the Higher Education Standards Panel. For a decade he chaired the National Centre for Vocational Education Research (NCVER).

Peter was made a Member in the Order of Australia (AM) for public service on Australia Day 1996. He 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.

Peter continues to speak widely and publish articles on public administration, refugee settlement, education and aged care.

Peter will be presenting at Webinar Thirty Four on 5 June, 2020. Register now.

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