PS Excellence Awards 2017

The Instiute for Governance Public Sector Excellence Awards are awarded to outstanding Australian public servants at different levels of governance who demonstrate excellence in leadership, policy innovation and/or policy delivery that leads to positive social or economic outcomes for Australian citizens. 

The 2017 Award recipients for outstanding contribution to the Australian Public Service were Serena Wilson PSM and Dr Gordon de Brouwer PSM


Serena Wilson is currently Deputy Secretary in the Department of Social Services and prior to that she was Deputy Secretary in the Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs (FaHCSIA) since March 2009. Serena heads the Department’s Social Security Stream, overseeing policy and management of social security payments to individuals as well as welfare reform across the whole social security system. The Stream is also responsible for the “Australian Priority Investment Approach” and the “Try, Test and Learn” Fund, which aims to identify those at risk of long-term social security dependency and policy interventions that could assist them to become independent. Serena is responsible for establishing the DSS policy framework and strategy, creating a long-term planning and performance culture, and promoting strong evidence-based systems. She is also chair of the Policy and Regulatory Reform Committee. Serena is a graduate from the University of Melbourne (BA Hons) and Monash University (Grad Dip Administrative Studies).

“Serena has been awarded this excellence award for her outstanding contribution to social policy development and
in particular the work that she has done in encouraging new ways of doing social policy in Australia. For example, the “Australian Priority Investment Approach” and the “Try, Test and Learn Fund” are at the very leading edge of policy innovation for combating social exclusion world-wide. We are delighted to honour the career of such an outstanding pioneering public servant.”


Dr Gordon de Brouwer PSM has over 30 years’ experience in public policy. He has worked in senior leadership levels in the Australian Government and public institutions for over 20 years, including as Commonwealth Secretary of the Department of Environment and Energy from September 2013 to September 2017, the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet (July 2008 to September 2013, including as G20 Sherpa to the former Prime Minister Julia Gillard), Treasury (2003 to 2008, 1987), the Australian National University (2000 to 2002 as a Professor of Economics) and the Federal Reserve Bank (1991-1999). He was awarded a Public Service Medal and made a Knight in the Legion of Honour by the President of the French Republic for both his public and G20 service. He was also IPAA ACT President from 2015-17. His areas of professional policy expertise are climate change and energy policy, natural resource management, economic and financial crisis prevention and resolution, institutional design and governance, and public sector management and reform. Gordon has a PhD in economics from the Australian National University.

“In a truly remarkable career, Dr Gordon de Brouwer has demonstrated an absolute commitment to integrity and diligence in serving the Government, matched with policy foresight and an unassuming style throughout his period of leadership. Gordon has made an outstanding contribution to policy innovation particularly in the areas of international economic policy and environmental sustainability. With regard to the former he played a pivotal role in the formulation of the Australian Government’s agenda to establish the G20. As Secretary of the Department of the Environment and Energy, Gordon oversaw the release of the Australian Antarctic Strategy and 20 year action plan as well as the Reef 2050 Long Term Sustainability Plan which was unanimously welcomed by the World Heritage Committee. During Dr de Brouwer’s time as secretary, Australia also signed and ratified the Paris Agreement on climate change. 

His achievements and approach to public administration and public policy are a hallmark for others to aspire, and are rightly celebrated through this Excellence award. We are delighted to honour the career of such an outstanding public servant.”