Date published: 
8 March 2019
Media type: 
Media release
General public

The Liberal National Government is pleased to announce that ministerial board appointments in the health portfolio have reached more than 50 per cent female for the very first time as Professor Dorothy Keefe is appointed the new CEO of Cancer Australia.

As we mark International Women’s Day, I am delighted to announce that health portfolio’s gender balance is currently 51.6 per cent for ministerial appointments to boards and committees. This is up from 43.4 per cent two years ago (December 2016).

Many outstanding women serve on the health portfolio’s boards and committees.

Key leaders include outgoing Cancer Australia CEO Dr Helen Zorbas, CEO of the National Mental Health Commission Christine Morgan and National Health and Medical Research Council CEO Professor Anne Kelso with female representation on those bodies being 62 per cent, more than 80 per cent and 67 per cent respectively.

Their work saves and protects lives.

Professor Keefe will join their ranks and has been appointed after a highly competitive recruitment process.

A medical oncologist with extensive experience in cancer treatment and cancer research, Professor Keefe has worked within government and with non-government cancer patient and advocacy groups.

She is Professor of Cancer Medicine at the University of Adelaide, and the Interim Medical Director of the South Australian Cancer Service. In addition to these roles Professor Keefe is a medical oncologist at the Royal Adelaide Hospital’s Cancer Centre.

She currently represents South Australia on the National Cancer Expert Reference Group of the Australian Health Ministers’ Advisory Council.

In 2013 she was awarded the Public Service Medal in the Queens’ Birthday Honours list for her outstanding service in the areas of public health, medical research and oncology.

Professor Keefe will replace outgoing CEO Dr Helen Zorbas AO, who has served in the role since 2010.

I would like to acknowledge the enormous contribution Dr Zorbas has made to the agency over the past nine years and indeed to cancer improvement across Australia.

Having seen the agency firmly established in its national leadership role, Dr Zorbas has indicated she was looking forward to new opportunities. I thank her for her work and wish her well.

Professor Keefe’s appointment with Cancer Australia is for three years, commencing from July 2019.