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Our senior staff

The Department of Education is responsible to the Minister for Education and Training, the Hon Sue Ellery MLC.

Sharyn O’Neill – Director General

Sharyn O’Neill was appointed Director General of the then Department of Education and Training in June 2007, the youngest Director General of Education ever appointed in this State.

With a clear focus on students at the centre of all decisions, her 2007 Classroom First strategy was a blueprint for the future and gave a clear mandate for public education – for every student to be successful, every teacher to be effective and every school to be good.

It is this vision and commitment that now sees her lead the new Department of Education, which was established on 1 July 2017, with responsibility for both public and non-government education services. At the same time, Ms O’Neill was appointed Chief Executive Officer of the School Curriculum and Standards Authority.

Ms O’Neill has a Master of Education (Education Administration and Policy) and is a member of the Australian Education Senior Officials Committee. She is currently serving on the State Government’s Directors General Workforce Management Working Group.

In 2016 she was awarded the Institute of Public Administration (WA) Patrons Award and was also made a Fellow of the Institute in recognition of her contribution to public administration in Western Australia.

David Axworthy – Deputy Director General, Public Schools

David Axworthy was appointed to this position in 2011 and is responsible for providing leadership and strategic direction for eight education regions and networks of schools across the State. All regional executive directors report to this position.

Mr Axworthy is a registered psychologist and worked as a research psychologist for the Medical Research Council. He joined the Department in 1974 and has held leadership positions in schools, and in central and regional offices. In 2007 he acted as the Chief Executive Officer of the Curriculum Council.

Jennifer McGrath – Deputy Director General, Education Business Services

Jennifer McGrath was appointed to this position in 2015 and is responsible for leading resource allocation and financial management across the Department including school funding, infrastructure and information technology.

Ms McGrath has worked in the Western Australian public sector for 12 years, holding senior executive positions in a number of agencies including the Department of the Premier and Cabinet and Department of Finance. She has a Bachelor of Commerce and is a Certified Practising Accountant.

Stephen Baxter – Executive Director, Planning, Regulation and Review

Stephen Baxter was appointed to this position in 2014. He is responsible for planning the future delivery of public schooling throughout the State including regional development, remote schools, distance education, online learning, agricultural education and residential colleges. He also establishes the strategic directions for professional learning and leadership development across the Department.

Mr Baxter is a qualified teacher and has more than 35 years’ experience in public education. He has held a number of senior executive positions, including in regional Western Australia.

Damien Stewart – Executive Director, Workforce

Damien StewartDamien Stewart was appointed to the position in July 2017 and leads three areas supporting the Department's large workforce.

Mr Stewart has 28 years’ experience in the State's public sector across a number of Government agencies.  More recently, he has held corporate executive positions in the Department for Child Protection and Family Support and the Department of Corrective Services. He has had responsibilities across a broad range of functional areas including human resources, finance, information technology, infrastructure, contracting, legal, risk, governance and conciliation services. 

Lindsay Hale – Executive Director, Statewide Services

Lindsay Hale was appointed to this position in 2014 and is responsible for portfolios that deliver support services to students and schools across the State.

Mr Hale joined the Department in 1984 as a teacher and worked in a range of positions before being appointed principal of Belmont City College. He was foundation Managing Director of the Institute for Professional Learning and has held a number of executive positions. He has a Master of Education Administration.

Peter Titmanis – Executive Director, Strategic Initiatives and Performance 

Peter Titmanis was appointed to this position in 2012 and is responsible for system reform initiatives that support and enhance students’ education outcomes.

Mr Titmanis began his career as a secondary science teacher before becoming a university lecturer in education and working as an education strategic planner as part of an Australian overseas aid program. He has a keen interest in data and extensive experience in school accountability and reporting.

He is currently leading national implementation of NAPLAN online.

Jane Machin-Everill – Director, Executive and Communications Services

Jane Machin-Everill was appointed to this position in 2008 and is responsible for policy and governance, corporate communications and marketing, and ministerial and executive services.

She joined the Department in 2002 in the communications and marketing area. Prior to this she worked in communications in other government agencies, universities and education sectors. She is a Fellow of the Public Relations Institute of Australia.



Other Senior Staff

Garry Hewitt – Assistant Executive Director, Early Childhood and Aboriginal Education 

Garry Hewitt was appointed to this position in 2014 and is responsible for strategic leadership and delivery of Department, State and national reforms in early childhood education.

Mr Hewitt’s leadership in public education spans 38 years and includes 22 years as a primary school principal. He has a Master of Education specialising in teaching and learning.

David Dans – Chief Information Officer

David Dans was appointed to this position in January 2017 and is responsible for leading the information and communication technology area which includes strategic service delivery, infrastructure and telecommunications, e-learning and business systems, corporate systems, student information systems and ICT governance.

Mr Dans has 30 years’ experience working in the private sector in the technology and commercial arena in Australia and overseas. Before joining the Department he was Chief Digital Officer at Landgate.

Mr Dans reports to the Deputy Director General, Finance and Administration.

John Fischer – Executive Director, Infrastructure 

John Fischer was appointed to this position in 2011 and is responsible for managing the provision of facilities including strategic asset management, capital works programs, and maintenance and minor works programs.

Mr Fischer previously worked for the Department of Transport for five years and Main Roads Western Australia for 32 years during which time he was project director for the Graham Farmer Freeway project.

Mr Fischer reports to the Deputy Director General, Finance and Administration.

Eamon Ryan – Executive Director, Professional Standards and Conduct

Eamon Ryan was appointed to the position in 2011 and is responsible for standards of staff professional conduct and integrity, management of allegations of misconduct by staff, audit, risk management, criminal history screening and legal services.

Mr Ryan joined the Department in 2009 and prior to this he worked as a consultant in the private sector and held senior roles in the State and Australian Governments. He has a Bachelor of Arts (Legal Studies).

Mr Ryan reports to the Director General.

Regional Executive Directors, Public Schools

Regional executive directors are responsible in their regions for monitoring public school performance and effectiveness, directing and overseeing delivery of support services to public schools and leading and managing operations in an environment of increasing public school empowerment.


Milton Butcher
Regional Executive Director, Goldfields

Milton Butcher is currently acting is this position, commencing in February 2017.  He has more than 30 years' experience with the Department in teaching and leadership positions in both regional and metropolitan secondary schools.

He has also held positions in curriculum reform and the Year 7 to secondary initiative.


Greg Robson
Regional Executive Director, Kimberley

Greg Robson was appointed to this position in 2011. Prior to this he was Professor and Head of the School of Education at Edith Cowan University for four years.

He has extensive experience as a teacher, researcher and curriculum consultant, and has held senior education leadership positions in Western Australia and South Australia.


Greg Thorne
Regional Executive Director, Midwest

Greg Thorne was appointed to this position in 2014. Prior to this he was principal advisor supporting implementation of the student-centred funding model.

His teaching and leadership experience includes head of mathematics and principalships of primary, district high and secondary schools. He has a Master of Educational Management.


Jim Webb
Regional Executive Director, North Metropolitan

James Webb was appointed to this position in 2011. His experiences in the Department span 39 years as a teacher and principal in country and metropolitan schools, as well as in leadership roles in regional offices.


Neil Darby
Regional Executive Director, Pilbara

Neil Darby was appointed to this position in 2016. Prior to this he was a director of Schools Review and a director in the Goldfields, Albany and Fremantle-Peel districts.

His teaching and leadership experience includes principalships of metropolitan, regional and remote schools as well as consultant positions in science and Aboriginal education.


Sue Cuneo
Regional Executive Director, South Metropolitan

Sue Cuneo was appointed to this position in 2016 after working as Pilbara Regional Executive Director since 2011.

She has more than 30 years’ experience as a teacher, deputy principal and principal in small remote schools, large metropolitan schools and district high schools. She has also held a director of schools position.


Neil Milligan
Regional Executive Director, Southwest

Neil Milligan was appointed to this position in 2011. His experiences as an education leader have covered the diversity of the State ranging from the challenges of the Ngaanyatjarra Lands to the complexities of the growing southwest.


Alison Ramm
Regional Executive Director, Wheatbelt

Alison Ramm was appointed to this position in 2016. Prior to this she held leadership positions that helped shape and implement significant reforms in school staffing, school funding and resourcing, and school empowerment and autonomy.

She has also had teaching and leadership experience in metropolitan and country schools.