‘Public Sector Reform on Steroids’: Sharyn O’Neill

Sharyn O'Neill

Sharyn O’Neill, Public Sector Commissioner and State Recovery Controller, Western Australian Government.

Dr Gordon de Brouwer PSM

Dr Gordon de Brouwer PSM, National IPAA President.

Sharyn O’Neill, Public Sector Commissioner and State Recovery Coordinator for the Western Australian Government, was recently interviewed for the WORK WITH PURPOSE — A NATIONAL PERSPECTIVE podcast by the IPAA National President, Dr Gordon de Brouwer PSM.

Sharyn is the only Public Sector Commissioner to attend National Cabinet with her Premier and spoke about ‘the oneness’ of the National Cabinet in the early days of the coronavirus pandemic:

‘…the level of sharing, the openness, the willing to help each other across normal divisions and lines — I found remarkable.

The humanity in that room, I also found remarkable.’

Sharyn recalled the day that she walked out of one of her first National Cabinet meetings with the Premier:

‘We’re up on the 14th or 13th floor, and we walked out to a window and our Premier just put his hands on the window — it looks out over Perth — and I could just sense the gravity.

He said, “I really feel deeply about these decisions we’re making that impact so greatly on the lives of Western Australian”.’

During the interview Sharyn spoke about how service delivery had changed with the arrival of COVID-19:

‘I think we were caused in a really fast way, a really deliberate way, to think around how people were going to experience our service or receive it, rather than the way that we were going to deliver it… I mean, this was public sector reform on steroids in my view. We’ve had a program of public sector reform, but there we were, we had to deliver it differently.’

Sharyn spoke about the challenge of providing personalised support for older people and the digital divide that impacts on people from lower income families and Aboriginal people. And she also spoke about the need to change the structure of collaboration, rather than the structure of departments, to respond effectively to the crisis.

WORK WITH PURPOSE is produced in partnership between contentgroup and IPAA ACT, with the support of the Australian Public Service Commission.

The podcast can be accessed from the link below and is also available on Spotify, SoundCloud and iTunes.

Work with Purpose 
A National Perspective

Public Sector Reform on Steroids — with Sharyn O'Neill