Gig guide: WA minerals chief to lead $1.8bn innovation fund

Brandon How

Rebecca Tomkinson, the chief executive of the Western Australian Chamber of Minerals and Energy is the new chair of the state government’s $1.8 billion Future Health Research and Innovation Fund.

The Future Health Research and Innovation Fund (FHRIF) is funded through mining royalties and is expected to award $250 million over the next four years in medical research and innovation.

Ms Tomkinson has led the Western Australian minerals sector representative organisation since October 2022. Prior to this, she spent almost five years as the chief executive of the Royal Flying Doctor Service (WA).

She replaces inaugural chair John Van der Wielen who has served in the role since the fund was set up in 2020. Mr Van der Wielen was previously the chief executive of insurance firm HBF Health and is the current chair of BioTech firm Orthocell, among other directorships.

Minister for Medical Research and for Innovation and the Digital Economy Stephen Dawson gave glowing praise to Mr Van der Wielen, thanking him for “his vision and leadership” in helping establish the structure of the FHRIF.

“Bringing to the table his significant business expertise, he established a governance model, advocated for investment in the health and medical research sector, and introduced a range of programs and initiatives directly benefiting research,” Mr Dawson said.

“The Fund is now well-placed for the future, thanks to Mr Van Der Wielen. I am confident Ms Tomkinson will take up the challenge and continue the Cook Government’s vision for growing Western Australia’s world class health, medical research and innovation sector.”

Rebecca Tomkinson. Image: LinkedIn

Former New South Wales Secretary for digital and customer service Emma Hogan has joined critical infrastructure, asset management and services provider Ventia as the group executive for strategy and corporate affairs. Ms Hogan led the Department of Customer Service between October 2019 and November 2023.

Three appointments have been made to the National Science and Technology Council, a government advisory council chaired by the Prime Minister. The appointments have been for Professor Mahananda Dasgupta, Professor Reuben Bolt and Professor Mark Hutchinson. Former Australian National University (ANU) vice-chancellor Professor Brian Schmidt will leave the council on February 18.

The federal government has reappointed three members of the Critical Minerals Independent Advisory Panel to its renamed Critical Minerals Independent Technical Panel. Each of the new members will a serve one year term. They are METS manufacturer Imvelo managing director Dr Alan Bye, experienced mining sector director Lynda Burnett, and former Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO) general manager for minerals and radiation services Robert Gee.

There has also been an additional director appointed to the board of the ANSTO. Professor Timothy Senden will serve a three-year term while continuing as the director of the ANU’s Research School of Physics.

The Department of Industry, Science and Resources has appointed Somers Bloomfield as general manager in the chief information officer division, Shevaun Fitzmyers analysis and insights division principal adviser, and Jarrod Powell as general manager for national space capability, technology and programs at the Australian Space Agency.

The government has appointed the chief executive of engineering and systems integration company SYPAQ Amanda Holt to the board of CEA Technologies on a three-year term. She has previously held roles at Adacel and Thales Australia. The federal government announced a plan to acquire CEA Technologies in mid-2023.

Former chief technology officer of the Australian Digital Health Agency (ADHA) Dr Malcolm Thatcher has joined cybersecurity firm CyberCX as a part-time strategic advisor. Dr Thatcher will advise on the health sector, in addition to general technology risk and governance. He was ADHA’s chief technology officer between February 2021 and July 2023.

University of Queensland chancellor and former Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade secretary Peter Varghese has been selected to lead the Independent Review of Commonwealth funding for strategic policy work.

Chief defence scientist Professor Tanya Monro has been elected as an international member of the United States National Academy of Engineering “for contributions to optics engineering and advancing Australian national security”.

Do you know more? Contact James Riley via Email.

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