Find out about the people who lead us in our Executive team, including the experience they bring to Health.

Our Secretary

Caroline Edwards

Potrait of Caroline Edwards

Caroline Edwards is Acting Secretary for Health. Caroline is on a temporary transfer to Health from her role as Deputy Secretary, Social Policy, at the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet (PM&C) which she commenced in November 2019.

Caroline previously joined Health in November 2017 where her responsibilities included primary care and mental health, health economics and research, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health, whole of portfolio strategic policy and long-term health reform. Caroline was also the Chief Allied Health Officer.

Prior to joining Health, Caroline was Deputy Secretary of the Health and Aged Care Group in the Department of Human Services (DHS) where she delivered programs in the health portfolio including Medicare, the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme and Aged Care payments.

Before her role at DHS in 2016, Caroline’s career was focused on social policy, particularly Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs, including 10 years in the Northern Territory where she worked:

  • for Aboriginal Legal Aid
  • as a Judicial Registrar in the Northern Territory Magistrates Court
  • in the Federal Court where she mediated and case-managed native title and other cases as judge’s delegate.

She has also worked as Chief Advisor in the Corporate and International Tax Division of the Department of Treasury with responsibility for local and international messaging on corporate tax avoidance issues including at forums for both the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).

Caroline is committed to developing leadership within the Australian Public Service as well as fostering diversity and innovation. Caroline holds a Bachelor of Laws with first class Honours from Monash University.

Chief Medical Officer

Professor Brendan Murphy

Portrait of Professor Brendan Murphy Chief Medical Officer of Australia

Professor Brendan Murphy is the Chief Medical Officer for the Australian Government and is the principal medical adviser to the Minister for Health and the Department of Health. He also holds direct responsibility for Health’s Office of Health Protection and the Health Workforce Division. In addition to the many committees he chairs, co-chairs and participates in, he is the Australian Member on the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) Governing Committee and represents Australia at the World Health Assembly.

Prior to his appointment Brendan was the Chief Executive Officer of Austin Health in Victoria.

Professor Murphy is:

  • a Professorial Associate with the title of Professor at the University of Melbourne
  • an Adjunct Professor at Monash University
  • a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Health and Medical Sciences
  • a Fellow of the Royal Australian College of Physicians
  • a member of the Australian Institute of Company Directors.

He was formerly CMO and director of Nephrology at St Vincent’s Health, and sat on the Boards of Health Workforce Australia, the Florey Institute of Neuroscience and Mental Health, the Olivia Newton-John Cancer Research Institute and the Victorian Comprehensive Cancer Centre. He is also a former president of the Australian and New Zealand Society of Nephrology.

Deputy Secretary for Health Financing

Penny Shakespeare

Penny Shakespeare

Penny Shakespeare is Deputy Secretary of the Health Financing Group. This includes the Technology Assessment and Access Division, Medical Benefits Division, Provider Benefits Integrity Division.

Since joining Health in 2006, Penny has held a number of senior leadership positions. Most recently Penny was the First Assistant Secretary of the Technology Assessment and Access Division, where she led the division through a period of significant change to further build on the division’s capabilities in Health Technology Assessment.

Penny has also previously led the Health Workforce Division, Health’s Medical Benefits and Private Health Insurance Branches.

Prior to joining Health, Penny was:

  • an industrial relations lawyer in the Department of Employment and Workplace Relations
  • in regulatory policy roles, including as head of the ACT Office of Industrial Relations
  • a member of the National Occupational Health and Safety Commission
  • a member of the Workplace Relations Ministers’ Advisory Council.

Penny has a Bachelor of Laws, a Master’s degree in International Law and is admitted as a Barrister and Solicitor.

Deputy Secretary for Health Products Regulation

Adjunct Professor John Skerritt

Adjunct Professor John Skerritt heads the Health Products Regulation Group which works to safeguard and enhance the health of all Australians through effective, timely and risk proportionate regulation of therapeutic goods and control of drug import, export and production.

He was formerly a Deputy Secretary in the Victorian Government and has extensive experience in medical, agricultural and environmental policy, regulation, research management, technology application and commercialisation. John was also previously the Deputy CEO of a Commonwealth Statutory Authority, a Ministerial appointee on the Gene Technology Technical Advisory Committee and Chair of the Board of a major International technical organisation. During the 1990s he held senior management positions in CSIRO and Cooperative Research Centres.

He has significant experience on Boards of international and national organisations and more than 25 years’ experience in negotiating and leading international technical and commercial collaborations. He is currently Vice-Chair of both the International Coalition of Medicines Regulatory Authorities and the Scientific Advisory Council of the Centre for Innovation in Regulatory Science.


  • is an Adjunct Full Professor of the Universities of Sydney, Queensland and Canberra
  • has a University Medal and PhD from the University of Sydney
  • is a graduate of the Senior Executive Programs of London Business School and of IMD Business School, Switzerland
  • is a Fellow of the Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering
  • is a Fellow of the Institute of Public Administration of Australia (Vic).

    Deputy Secretary for Population Health, Sport and Cancer

    Dr Lisa Studdert

    Dr Lisa Studdert

    Dr Lisa Studdert is the Deputy Secretary for Population Health, Sport and Cancer.

    Lisa joined Health in June 2013 as a First Assistant Secretary in the Therapeutic Goods Administration, and went on to lead the Population Health and Sport Division. She worked in the office of Minister Greg Hunt, and before that, as Chief of Staff to former Health Minister, Sussan Ley.

    In 2011, Lisa was a member of the senior leadership team at the Australian National Preventative Health Agency and she also has a background working in population and preventive health policy and programs in Australia and internationally.

    Lisa is a PhD graduate of Cornell University.

    Deputy Secretary for Ageing and Aged Care

    Mr Michael Lye

    Mr Michael Lye

    Michael Lye joined the Department of Health in December 2019 as Deputy Secretary responsible for Ageing and Aged Care.

    Prior to joining Health, Michael was the Deputy Secretary responsible for disability and carers policy at the Department of Social Services, where his responsibilities included disability and carers policy and programs, the National Disability Strategy, the National Disability Insurance Scheme and Disability Employment Services.

    Michael has a Bachelor of Arts degree majoring in Psychology and a Master of Social Welfare Administration and Planning, both of which are from the University of Queensland.

    Special Advisor

    Dr Margot McCarthy

    Dr Margot McCarthy

    Dr Margot McCarthy joined Health in November 2015 after responsibility for the Ageing and Aged Care portfolio transferred to Health from the Department of Social Services.

    Margot has held a number of senior positions in the Department of Defence, the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet (PM&C) and the Department of Social Services.

    In February 2013, she was appointed as an Associate Secretary in PM&C, leading the National Security and International Policy Group which provided advice to the Prime Minister, and whole-of-government coordination on national security matters.

    Margot is a graduate of Oxford University (DPhil in English Literature) and the London School of Economics and Political Science (MSc in Management). She completed her undergraduate studies at the University of New England.

    Acting Deputy Secretary for Health System Policy and Primary Care

    Tania Rishniw

    Tania Rishniw

    Tania joined the Department of Health in 2015. With a background in social, environmental and economic policy, Tania has more than 20 years of experience as a leader in the Australian Public Service. Tania is currently the acting Deputy Secretary of the Health System Policy and Primary Care Group, and is responsible for strategic matters across the portfolio, including hospital funding, international engagement and Commonwealth-State relations on health matters. She is also responsible for leading the Department’s work on policies and programs relating to mental health, primary care, health economics and research, and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health.

    Her achievements include leading work on the negotiations for a new National Health Reform Agreement; securing privacy protections for digital health records; heading up the Victorian State Office for Health; establishing the Indigenous Australians Health Program; representing the Australian government at the United Nations World Conference of Indigenous Peoples, United Nations committees on the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities; leading the environmental response to the Montara oil spill in the Timor Sea; and heading the Forrest Review taskforce. She was involved in the reconstruction and development taskforce responding to the 2004 Tsunami and the development and implementation of the Australian Government’s cost recovery policy.

    Tania has worked across several Commonwealth agencies, including the Departments of the Prime Minister and Cabinet; Finance; Education and Employment; and Environment and Heritage. She has extensive experience in developing innovative policies and programs - working with diverse stakeholder and industry groups to develop solutions that work. She has worked as a regulator in environmental protection and financial management.

    Tania holds degrees in law, psychology and an executive masters degree in public administration. Outside of work she enjoys walking Bronte the family Labrador, entertaining Trousers the Burmese therapy cat, attempting to box and spin, eating cheese and drinking gin (all within the recommended guidelines of course).

    Acting Chief Operating Officer

    Charles Wann


    Charles Wann is the Department of Health’s acting Corporate Operations Officer.

    He joined the Department of Health in 2016, initially as Chief Budget Officer, then as the First Assistant Secretary, Financial Management Division and most recently leading the Aged Care Reform and Compliance Division where he and his team implemented reforms to aged care quality and safety, workforce and the transition of compliance functions to the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission.

    Prior to this, Charles worked as Chief of Staff to Scott Morrison while he was the Minister for Social Services, and then as his Senior Budget Advisor when he was Treasurer. Previously, he worked in diverse roles in the Department of Home Affairs in policy, program management and client and corporate services, in Australia and overseas. He led teams responsible for introducing risk‑based approaches to visa compliance and status resolution, and providing health, income and employment support to asylum seekers living in the community.

    Charles holds a Bachelor of Arts (Hons) from the Australian National University specialising in Classics.

    Last updated: 
    16 May 2020

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