For almost 100 years, the Institute of Public Administration Australia (IPAA) has been working hard to empower and inspire public sector professionals to do great work.

It all began in South Australia in 1927, when an Australian regional group of the London-based Institute of Public Administration was formed. Over the subsequent decades, regional groups of the Institute of Public Administration were established in all of the country’s states and territories, and an independent national organisation was created on 1 January 1980.

The ACT division was established in 1953. Over the past 60 years, we have operated under several names, including the former Royal Australian Institute of Public Administration. But whatever the name, we have consistently helped our members to keep ahead of the curve so they can build a better public sector for Australia’s communities.

Throughout our history, IPAA ACT has been led by a long line of noteworthy presidents, starting with our inaugural president, Sir William E. Dunk (Chairman of the Commonwealth Public Service Board), with Deputy President Leicester C. Webb (Reader and Head of the Department of Political Science, Australian National University).

Our other former presidents are:

Frances Adamson AC FIPAA image
Frances Adamson AC FIPAA

Secretary, Department of Foreign Affairs
President, 2017-2019

Glenys Beauchamp PSM FIPAA image
Glenys Beauchamp PSM FIPAA

Secretary, Department of Industry, Innovation and Science
President, 2013-2016

Auditor-General of Australia
President, 2008-2010

Secretary, Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations
President, 2006-2008

Michael Taylor AO FIPAA
Secretary, Department of Transport and Regional Services
President, 2004-2006

Robert Cornall AO FIPAA
Secretary, Attorney-General’s Department
President, 2002-2004

Ken Matthews AO FIPAA
Secretary, Department of Transport and Regional Services
President, 2000-2002

Andrew Podger AO FIPAA
Secretary, Department of Health and Aged Care
President, 1998-2000

Dr Allan Hawke AC​ FIPAA
Secretary, Department of Transport and Regional Services
President, 1996-1998

Lionel Woodward AO FIPAA
CEO, Australian Customs Service
President, 1994-1996

Pamela O’Neil FIPAA
Former Sex Discrimination Commissioner
President, 1992-1994

John Taylor AO FIPAA
Auditor-General of Australia
President, 1990-1992

David Shand
First Assistant Secretary, Department of Finance
President, 1989-1990

Dr Claire Clark FIPAA
Assistant Secretary, ACT Administration (prior to ACT self-government)
President, 1987-1989

Norman Fisher AO FIPAA
Deputy Commissioner, Public Service Board
President, 1985-1987

Dr Roy Cameron CB FIPAA
Australian Statistician, Australian Bureau of Statistics
President, 1983-1984

Philip Flood AO FIPAA
Chief Executive for Special Trade Negotiations
President, 1981-1983

Justice Rae Else-Mitchell
Chairman, Legal Aid Commission ACT
President, 1979-1981

Professor Lindsay Curtis AO
Deputy Secretary, Attorney-General’s Department
President, 1976-1978

Don Steele Craik
Auditor-General of Australia
President, 1975-1976

Dr Roger Wettenhall
Canberra College of Advanced Education
President, 1973-1975

Walter Ives
Secretary, Department of Primary Industry
President, 1971-1973

Sir Peter Heydon
Secretary, Department of Immigration
President, 1969-1970

E E Chrichton
Commonwealth Public Service Board
President, 1967-1969

G E Pettit
Organisation unknown
President, 1965-1967

Rober Hyslop
Assistant Secretary, Department of Defence
President, 1963-1965

Professor Robert Parker
Head of Political Science, ANU
President, 1961-1963

F L McCay
Organisation unknown
President, 1959-1961

Professor Fin Crisp
Head of Political Science, ANU
President, 1957-1959

J G Crawford
Secretary, Department of Commerce and Agriculture
President, 1955-1957

W E Dunk
Chairman, Commonwealth Public Service Board

The Institute of Public Administration Australia (IPAA), is the only nationwide professional association for those involved in public administration, with divisions located in all states and territories.

It is headed by Professor Renée Leon PSM FIPAA who commenced in the role of national president in July 2022.

As well as supporting the ACT, IPAA ACT works closely with the IPAA National executive and provides a range of support services and oversees activities for IPAA National.

Click here to find out more about IPAA National.

IPAA National has divisions in each Australian state and territory, and these are the engine room for local events, professional development opportunities and other member activities.

Find out more about each of the IPAA divisions:


IPAA ACT is committed to Canberra and the local community’s ongoing journey of reflection, respect and reconciliation. In April 2021, we commissioned local Indigenous artist Sarah Richards to create an artwork that represents our core purpose: to build connections.

About the artwork

Drawing on the colours commonly seen in the Canberra region, Commitment to Connection reflects IPAA ACT’s role in leading debate, collaboration, innovation, communication and building capability in public administration. The artwork represents our connection with the private, public, peak bodies and academic sectors, and the state and territory IPAA divisions coming together to share expertise and knowledge.

The leaves of a eucalyptus, the most common native tree in the region but also common in other regions of Australia, represents IPAA ACT and the other sectors coming together in an abstract royal bluebell shape to represent Canberra. The royal bluebell’s yellow centre represents IPAA ACT, while the royal bluebell petals represent each of the sectors, and the outside of the royal bluebell represents the ACT community. It is surrounded by IPAA QLD, NSW, VIC, TAS, NT, WA, and SA to represent their connection to IPAA ACT but also connection to the Australian community.

About the artist

Sarah Richards – Sarah is a Ngiyampaa woman born on Gadigal land (Sydney) who grew up on Wiradjuri (Griffith) and Yugambeh (Gold Coast) country before moving down to Ngunnawal country in 2012. Since she was a young child, she loved to be creative, particularly through painting. In 2018, she turned her passion from a hobby into a small business and created Marrawuy Journeys. In Sarah’s ancestors’ language of the Wongaibon people, Marrawuy (Mar-ra-way) means Red Kangaroo. Marrawuy Journeys is a Supply Nation registered, 100% Aboriginal owned business with a vision of healing as individuals so we can heal as a country. Click here to find out more about Sarah and her art.

The IPAA National conferences and IPAA ACT’s conferences are a place for delegates to hear and learn from a range of speakers, innovators and thought leaders from across the public and private sectors.

Find out more about our past conferences:

IPAA ACT hosts an exciting program of events, which support our members and partners to build connections and extend their networks, learn and access ideas, and be inspired to do great work.

Find out more about IPAA ACT’s past events here.

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