Ms Barbara Bennett PSM
Ms Bennett brings to the Commission some 20 years' experience at senior levels in the Commonwealth Public Service. She has held senior positions at both the Department of Social Services and Department of Human Services, overseeing the development of policy and programs to support families, children, family safety, multicultural affairs and settlement services.
Receiving a Public Service Medal in 2017 for outstanding public service in the area of Social Services, Ms Bennett has a deep understanding of social policy and how best to develop and deliver support for vulnerable and disadvantaged Australians.
Ms Bennett's extensive career in social policy has involved her in many reforms including her leadership to the development of new approaches to settling 12,000 humanitarian refugees impacted by the war in Iraq and Syria who came to Australia in 2015.
She also played a key role in the delivery of the Prime Minister's Women's Safety package in 2016, overseeing the development of the Third Action Plan which encourages governments to work together to change Australia's attitudes to, and tolerance for violence against women and their children. Ms Bennett worked closely with senior levels of all governments, NGOs and stakeholders to respond to the recommendations of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse – reforms and changes crucial to protecting children from abuse.
Ms Bennett has a family experience of supporting and advocating for her mother who has been a quadriplegic of more than 20 years and her daughter who was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis at age 12.
In accepting the role as Commissioner, Ms Bennett is deeply committed to ensuring that every story told by someone and every case heard by the Royal Commission, informs the systemic preventions needed so that people with disability live and participate in society, free from violence, abuse, neglect and exploitation.