Secretary of the Department of Education and Training

Friday 4 December 2015


The Secretary of the Australian Government Department of Education and Training Ms Lisa Paul AO PSM has decided the time is right to build a portfolio career outside the public service and will finish up as Secretary in February 2016.

Ms Paul is the second-longest serving Secretary and has been a chief executive for 11 years.

“For me, every day of my 11 years as a Secretary has been a privilege,” Ms Paul said.

“In coming to this decision, I want to thank the Prime Minister and Minister Birmingham for their support.

“I am proud of being able to help make a positive difference over the years to the lives of Australians and others in areas so important for our nation’s future such as early childhood, schooling, vocational education, skills and training, higher education, international education, research, science, employment, workforce and workplace relations. I am also proud of the special focus on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

“I have been incredibly fortunate to work with many wonderful and talented people from all walks of life. One of the most fulfilling aspects of being a chief executive is the opportunity to create a workplace where people want to come to work, where they understand the value they bring and they know they are genuinely supported in what they do.

“Some of the big challenges I have faced include leading a complex merger in 2007 and a demerger in 2013, while retaining top-quartile staff engagement. I have managed up to $46 billion annually, 6000 staff, including up to 6 per cent Indigenous, in 50 locations globally. Over time we reduced operating costs by more than 30 per cent while increasing business lines. I am a strong advocate for digital innovation across government. This includes using big data and leveraging the power of opening Government data to the public.”

Ms Paul said she is excited by the challenge of applying her energy and drive to a portfolio career including non-executive directorships as well as the chance to pursue interests such as leadership, culture change, digital innovation, skills formation and continuing to make a positive difference.

In 2003 Ms Paul was awarded a Public Service Medal for leading the Australian Government’s domestic response to the Bali bombings. She was further recognised in 2011 when she was made an Officer of the Order of Australia for distinguished service to public sector leadership in key policy and programme implementation. In 2011 she also received the Australia Chartered Accountants’ Federal Government Leader of the Year award.

Ms Paul has served as Secretary for Prime Ministers Howard, Rudd, Gillard, Abbott, and Turnbull, Cabinet Ministers Brendan Nelson, Julie Bishop, Julia Gillard, Simon Crean, Chris Evans, Peter Garrett, Bill Shorten, Christopher Pyne and Simon Birmingham, as well as many non-Cabinet ministers.

Ms Paul has been:

  • Secretary, Department of Education, Science and Training 2004-2007
  • Secretary, Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations 2007-2013
  • Secretary, Department of Education 2013-2014
  • Secretary, Department of Education and Training 2014-2016.

Ms Paul’s replacement has yet to be announced.

Department Media:, 02 6240 7300