EP#94: Revisiting ‘Rebuilding trust and integrity after robodebt’

The Robodebt Royal Commission highlighted the tremendous impact government policy gone wrong can have on the lives of Australians. The evidence given at the royal commission hearings also brought into question the state of ‘frank and fearless advice’ in the service.

In the first rerun of our best episodes in 2023, we revisit our conversation with two public service leaders: Dr Gordon de Brouwer PSM FIPAA, the Australian Public Service Commissioner, and Kathy Leigh, Head of Service and Director-General of the Chief Minister, Treasury and Economic Development Directorate, ACT Government. We examined the impact of robodebt, and discussed how the public service might reinforce its values around integrity, and rebuild courage and pride in its work.

Discussed in this episode:

  • The importance of empathy and compassion for those affected, the public, and the public service
  • The role of impartiality and objectivity in giving policy advice
  • Best practice behaviour and delivery to further embed integrity culture
  • What a modern and responsive public service should look like.


Dr Gordon de Brouwer PSM FIPAA

Gordon de Brouwer PSM FIPAA is currently the Australian Public Service Commissioner. Before starting his appointment as the Secretary for Public Sector Reform on 1 July 2022, Gordon was Professor of Economics, jointly appointed to the Crawford School of Public Policy and College of Business and Economics. He is committed to public value, high-quality policy and implementation, and effective government. Gordon was also previously President of IPAA National as well as IPAA ACT. 

Kathy Leigh

Kathy Leigh is the Director-General of the ACT Chief Minister, Treasury and Economic Development Directorate and Head of the ACT Public Service. She provides high level strategic advice to the ACT Chief Minister and Cabinet and chairs the Strategic Board of Directors-General. Before taking up her position as ACT Head of Service, Ms Leigh was Director-General of the ACT Justice and Community Safety Directorate from October 2009. In this role she advised the ACT Attorney-General on a wide range of issues including legal policy, court reform, human rights, corrections, regulatory services and emergency management.


A transcript of this episode can be found here. *

*Please note, this transcript is from the original episode, Episode 81.