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Our Corporate Executive

The Department of Education is responsible to the Minister for Education, the Hon Peter Collier 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.

Ms O’Neill is only the third woman to head the largest public sector agency in Western Australia, and is responsible for leading the State’s public education system of nearly 800 schools, and more than 290 000 students and 45 000 staff.

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. The strategy continues to inform all decisions and directions.

Ms O’Neill has presided over the most significant reform of public education in Western Australia in decades. She has led the award-winning Independent Public Schools initiative that places in the hands of principals and school communities more authority and flexibility to make the best decisions for their students. It has revolutionised the way public schools operate in Western Australia, and many of the flexibilities first accorded to Independent Public Schools are now in place in all schools.

Other major reforms that Ms O’Neill has led include the move of Year 7 students from primary to secondary school; a new school funding model driven by the learning needs of students; and more support and services for children in the early years of their development and learning including Child and Parent Centres, and KindiLink.

She is a member of the Australian Education Systems Officials Committee. She is also chief executive officer of the Country High School Hostels Authority. In 2016 she was awarded the Institute of Public Administration (WA) Patrons Award and was also made a Fellow of the Institute to recognise her contribution to public adminstration in Western Australia.

David Axworthy - Deputy Director General, Schools

David Axworthy was appointed Deputy Director General, Schools in 2011. He is responsible for providing leadership and strategic direction for eight education regions, networks of schools, and for Statewide services to support all schools.

He has extensive experience in public education in Western Australia and began his career with the Department of Education in 1974. He has held a wide variety of positions in schools, district offices and central office, including district director of schools in both t country and metropolitan areas.

Mr Axworthy was acting Chief Executive Officer of the Curriculum Council In 2007. He was Executive Director, School Support Programs immediately before taking up his current position.

He is a registered psychologist and has also worked as a research psychologist for the Medical Research Council.

Jennifer McGrath - Deputy Director General, Finance and Administration

Jennifer McGrath was appointed to this position in September 2015 and is responsible for leadin resource allocation and financial management across the Department including school funding, infrastructure and information technology. Ms McGrath holds a Bachelor of Commerce and is a Certified practising Accountant (CPA). Ms McGrath has worked in the Western Australian public sector for the past 12 years holding senior executive positions in the Departments of premier and Cabinet, Child Protection, Communities, Corrective Services and Finance-Building Management and Works. 

Prior to living in Western Australia Ms McGrath worked for a large steel manufacturer in New South Wales and James Cook University in Queensland where she held various finance, accounting and business roles.


Stephen Baxter - Executive Director, Statewide Planning and Delivery

Stephen Baxter 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 is also responsible for establishing the strategic direction for the development and delivery of 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 executive positions in country and metropolitan areas including district director, director schools, and director of school Innovation and reform.

Cliff Gillam - Executive Director, Workforce

Cliff Gillam was appointed to this position in 2009 and is responsible for leading workforce directions and policies across the Department. Mr Gillam has more than 20 years’ public sector experience in human resource management and labour relations. Prior to entering the public service he worked as an academic and a theatre arts professional.

He was Executive Director of People and Organisational Development at the Public Transport Authority during that agency’s rapid expansion to bring the southern suburbs rail link to fruition. He has also held senior management roles in human resources in conservation and labour relations agencies.

Mr Gillam is a Fellow of the Australian Human Resources Institute and has been a leader in developing effective workforce planning and development strategies in the WA public sector. He has chaired sector-wide committees on benchmarking of human resources service provision.

Mr Gillam was awarded the Institute of Public Administration (WA) Human Resource Management Practicioner of the Year in 2015.

Lindsay Hale - Executive Director, Statewide Services

Lindsay Hale was appointed Executive Director, Statewide Services in 2014 with responsibility for portfolios that deliver support services to improve education outcomes for students. This includes working with education regions to ensure services are integrated to students and schools across the State.

Mr Hale joined the Department in 1984 and has worked in a range of metropolitan and regional secondary schools as an English teacher, year coordinator, head of learning area and deputy principal as well as principal of Belmont City College.

He has also held senior roles in district and central offices including Executive Director, Statewide Planning and Delivery; foundation Managing Director of the Institute for Professional Learning; and Director Schools in the Swan Education District.

He has a Master of Education Administration.

Garry Hewitt - Executive Director, Office of Early Childhood Development and Learning

Garry Hewitt is responsible for strategic leadership and the delivery of Department, State and Commonwealth reforms in early childhood education.

Mr Hewitt’s leadership in education spans 37 years and encompasses 22 years as a primary school principal, one year as vice principal in Toronto (Canada) and 18 months as District Director, Schools in the former Canning Education District in Perth.

Mr Hewitt has a Master of Education specialising in teaching and learning.


Peter Titmanis - Executive Director, Innovation, Performance and Research

Peter Titmanis is Executive Director, Innovation, Performance and Research in the Department of Education in Western Australia. He is responsible for system reform initiatives that support and enhance student educational outcomes.

Mr Titmanis has a keen interest in data and extensive experience in school accountability and reporting. He is currently leading the national development and implementation of NAPLAN online. He continues to take a significant lead role in the development and implementation of school funding reform and the Independent Public Schools initiative.

Mr Titmanis began his career as a teacher of chemistry, physics and science in secondary schools and was later a university lecturer in pre-service education. He has also worked as a strategic planner in education as part of an Australian overseas aid program.

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 first 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.

Jane Machin-Everill, Director Corporate Communications and Marketing

Jane Machin-Everill was appointed to this position in 2008 and is responsible for 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.

Ms Machin-Everill is an observer on Corporate Executive and reports to the Director General.



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

Sue Cuneo - Regional Executive Director, South Metropolitan

Ms Cuneo has spent 32 years in public schools in a range of positions. As a teacher she had experience in teaching children in all year levels. She has held a variety of leadership positions across a number of school contexts including deputy principal and principal.

Her education journey has seen her administration experience span small remote schools, large metropolitan schools and district high schools. Ms Cuneo is a dedicated educator and this was recognised by her community in 1993 when she was nominated for the National Teaching Awards and again in 2004 when she was nominated by the community for WA Principal of the Year.

Ms Cuneo was a Director Schools in the metropolitan area from 2007 to 2010 before being appointed Regional Executive Director for the Pilbara based in Karratha in 2011. She is now Regional Executive Director South Metropolitan.


Jim Webb - Regional Executive Director, North Metropolitan

Jim Webb has worked in a variety of roles across the Department of Education spanning 38 years.

After 10 years of teaching, Mr Webb moved to school leadership as principal of Trayning Primary School. Fulfilling an ambition to work with Aboriginal students, he was then appointed principal of Blackstone in the Ngaanyatjarra Lands. Along with his young family, he moved to principal positions in the Gascoyne and southwest. He returned to the metropolitan area and was principal of Noranda, Kalamunda and Middle Swan primary schools in critical periods of their growth.

Mr Webb entered district level administration as a principal consultant in the Swan district and in 2010 was appointed District Director. With a new regional structure in 2011, Jim took over first as Assistant Regional Executive Director and in a short time was appointed Regional Executive Director of the North Metropolitan Education Region. He is passionate about helping challenged communities with the education of their children and believes that a good education provides them with the best opportunities for a better future. While his current role is challenging, he says it gives him great satisfaction to be in constant contact with schools and to work with school leaders in improving education outcomes for all students.

Neil Darby - Regional Executive Director, Pilbara

Neil Darby was appointed to this position in 2016. Prior to this he was a director, 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.





Greg Robson - Regional Executive Director, Kimberley

Greg Robson’s previous roles include Professor of Education and Head of the School of Education at Edith Cowan University; Executive Director with the Office of Service Delivery at the Department of Education and Children’s Services in South Australia; Executive Director of Teaching and Learning at the WA Department of Education and Training; Chief Executive Officer of ECU Resources for Learning Ltd; Executive Director of Human Resources at the WA Department of Education; and Director of Curriculum at the WA Department of Education.

Mr Robson is a qualified secondary school teacher and taught in country and metropolitan schools before working as a researcher and curriculum consultant in the Department of Education and then undertaking a range of senior management positions.

Greg Thorne - Regional Executive Director, Midwest

Greg Thorne was appointed Regional Executive Director in 2014. He began his career in 1981 as a secondary mathematics teacher at Cunderdin District High School and moved to Narrogin Senior High School in 1983.

Mr Thorne has extensive leadership experience including head of mathematics before moving to principal positions at Narembeen District High School (1997), Clifton Hills Primary School (2003), Lynwood Senior High School (2004) and Ocean Reef Senior High School (2008).

Most recently, he was principal advisor supporting the implementation of the new student-centred funding model, and delivering training and support to principals and manages corporate services. He has also been a district director and principal consultant.

Mr Thorne completed a Master of Educational Management in 2002, with a paper on restructuring education for collaborative planning. He enjoys the role of supporting principals with strategic advice to take on new challenges and initiatives, and fostering leadership in schools to use increasing autonomy to benefit students’ education.

Ken Perris - Regional Executive Director, Goldfields

Ken Perris was appointed to his present position as Regional Executive Director in 2013. He has more than 30 years’ experience with the Department of Education, having had roles in teaching and leadership in rural, remote and metropolitan schools.

Mr Perris has also held leadership development and director positions. His most recent role prior to becoming Regional Executive Director was as Director with the Expert Review Group.



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 recent reforms in staffing, school funding and resourcing, and autonomy.

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



Neil Milligan - Regional Executive Director, Southwest

Neil Milligan has been Regional Executive Director since 2011. Prior to this, he was Director of the Bunbury Education District. He has also been acting Director, Teaching and Learning where he took on responsibility for the Curriculum Improvement Program for the Department, implementing the first formal reviews. He was also Director in the Goldfields and Warren-Blackwood districts.

Mr Milligan’s experience as an education leader covers the diversity of the State ranging from the challenges of the Ngaanyatjarra Lands to the complexities of the growing of southwest which has more than 100 schools, the majority of which have been successful in becoming Independent Public Schools.