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New international development policy - Expert panel biographies

Expert Panel Chair
Mr Dennis Richardson, AO, Former Secretary of the DFAT and the Department of Defence

Following two years as the Secretary of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Richardson commenced as Secretary of the Department of Defence in 2012, a position he held until his retirement in 2017. He was Ambassador of Australia to the United States from 2005 to 2009 and has been a career public servant since 1969, when he joined Australia's foreign service.

From October 1996 until his appointment to Washington, DC, Richardson served as Director-General of the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation. Prior to this, he was Deputy Secretary of the Department of Immigration and Multicultural Affairs (1993-1996).

Mr Dennis Richardson

Richardson has served in various senior public service roles in the Departments of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, Foreign Affairs and Trade and Immigration. He was Head of the Review of the Intelligence Community post-Cold War in 1992 and Principal Adviser to the Prime Minister from 1990 to 1991.

Richardson holds a Bachelor of Arts (Honours) from the University of Sydney and was made an Officer of the Order of Australia (AO) in 2003.


Mr James Batley, PSM, Distinguished Policy Fellow in the Coral Bell School of Asia Pacific Affairs, Australian National University

Mr Batley has worked as Distinguished Policy Fellow in the Department of Pacific Affairs at ANU since 2015. Prior to that he had a long career in government. He joined the Department of Foreign Affairs in 1984.

Early in his career he had postings in Vanuatu, Papua New Guinea and Indonesia. From 1997-1999 he was Australia's High Commissioner to Solomon Islands. During this time he also served as the senior Australian civilian member of the Bougainville Peace Monitoring Group. From 1999-2002 he was head of Australia's diplomatic mission in Dili, becoming Australia's first Ambassador to East Timor following independence in 2002. From 2004-2006 he led the Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands (RAMSI) and from 2007-2009 he was Australian High Commissioner to Fiji (and Permanent Representative to the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat).

Mr James Batley

In Canberra he worked in a range of senior positions including Deputy Director-General of AusAID (2011-2013) and Deputy Secretary of DFAT (2013-2014). Mr Batley was awarded the Public Service Medal in 2000.

He is a member of the boards of UnitingWorld and of SurfAid Australia.


Ms Catherine Walker, PSM, Board Member, UN Women Australia

Ms Walker has been a Board Member of UN Women Australia since 2014 and is a member of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade Diplomatic Academy Advisory Board.

She worked with the Australian aid program for 22 years and held senior development roles overseas, including in Timor-Leste as the Chief of Donor Coordination with the United Nations Transitional Administration and in Solomon Islands as the Development Coordinator with the Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands (RAMSI).

Ms Catherine Walker

Ms Walker was appointed in 2011 by the UN Secretary-General to the United Nations Advisory Group on the Central Emergency Response Fund and served as its chair from 2012 – 2014.

Ms Walker received the Public Service Medal in 2011 for her work in development and humanitarian assistance.


Ms Lynda Cheng, Export Finance Australia Board Member and Director of Corporate Development and Mergers at Pratt Holdings

Ms Cheng is Director of Corporate Development and M&A at Pratt Holdings and has held other senior executive roles for the Pratt Group since 2005 including CFO of Visy Industries. Previously, Ms Cheng was in investment banking for a decade and worked for JPMorgan in their New York, San Francisco, Sydney and Melbourne offices. Prior to that, Lynda worked at the Australian Infrastructure Development Corporation (AIDC Ltd) and Ashurst Australia, a commercial law firm. She brings a broad private sector, commercial and corporate finance perspective.

Ms Lynda Cheng

Ms Cheng is a current board member of Export Finance Australia, the Australian Government's export credit agency as well as Wesley College, an independent school in Melbourne. She was previously Deputy Chair of South East Water and Chair of their Finance Audit and Risk Management Committee.

Lynda holds a Bachelor of Law (Honours) and Commerce degree majoring in actuarial studies and economics from the University of Melbourne.


Ms Jane Prentice, former Federal Member of Parliament

Ms Prentice was the Federal Member for the electorate of Ryan from 2010-2019. She was appointed Assistant Minister for Disability Services in February 2016 and was reappointed as Assistant Minister for Social Services and Disability Services from July 2016 to August 2018.

As Assistant Minister for Social Services and Disability Services Ms Prentice was committed to ensuring the implementation and sustainability of the NDIS as well as to her goal of removing barriers for people with disability and improving the rates of disability employment. Ms Prentice was Co-Chairman of the National Disability and Carers Advisory Council and Chairman of the Joint Standing Committee on the National Broadband Network. In addition she was; the House of Representatives Member on the National Archives of Australia Advisory Council and a member of the Advisory Board of Griffith University's School of Government and International Relations.

Ms Jane Prentice

Prior to her election to Federal Parliament, Ms Prentice served for 10 years as Councillor for the Brisbane City Council.

Before entering public life, Ms Prentice owned and managed a successful convention and event management company for twenty years. During this time Ms Prentice was also the Business Manager for the Australian Telecommunications Users Group in Queensland; as well as serving on many industry and community boards and committees.

She most recently has served as an election monitor, serving as Co-Chair of the Multinational Observer Group for the 2018 Fijian General Election as well as the leading the Australia Observer Team monitoring the 2019 Bougainville Referendum.


Mr Jack de Groot, CEO, St Vincent de Paul Society NSW

Mr de Groot is Chief Executive Officer of the St Vincent de Paul Society (Vinnies) in NSW.

Prior to taking on the role in August 2016, Mr de Groot had senior executive roles in the not-for-profit sector. He was CEO of Caritas Australia (2000-2013) and during that time served on the Minister for Foreign Affairs Aid Advisory Council. He was also a Vice President of the Australian Council for International Development and was the inaugural chair of the Make Poverty History Campaign (2004-2006). He has served on the Executive governance of Caritas Internationalis and was the Chair of the International Advocacy Committee of Caritas Internationalis.

Mr Jack De Groot

After his time at Caritas he joined the Group Executive of St Vincent's Health Australia from 2013-16.

He currently serves on a number of boards including St John of God Healthcare, University of Notre Dame and is Chair of the Implementation Advisory Group that monitors the Catholic Church's implementation of the recommendations of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse. He has served on government advisory, industry and community groups.

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