With a career in the Australian Public Service spanning 33 years, Dr Jeff Harmer AO has occupied a range of executive positions across a number of Commonwealth Departments, playing a pivotal role in numerous significant reforms made under the Howard, Rudd and Gillard governments.
Dr Harmer began his public service career in 1978 following five years as a doctoral scholar and tutor in Economic Geography at the University of New South Wales (UNSW). In 1994 he was appointed to the role of Deputy Secretary of the Department of Housing and Regional Development. In 1996 he was promoted to the position of Deputy Secretary of the Social Security Department, and two years later appointed as Managing Director of the Health Insurance Commission (now Medicare Australia).
In 2003, Dr Harmer was appointed as Secretary of the Commonwealth Department of Education, Science and Training, before taking on the role of Secretary of the then Department of Family and Community Services in 2004, a position he held until his retirement in 2011. During these seven years as Secretary, he led the Department through the changes arising from the addition of the Office of Indigenous Policy Coordination to the portfolio in 2006 and the post 2007 election changes. This resulted in the Department being renamed the Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs (FaHCSIA).
In 2010, Dr Harmer was made an Officer of the Order of Australia (AO) in the Australia Day Honours List, for the significant achievements in his public service career, particularly his leadership of key policy initiatives such as programs for housing assistance, child support, mental health, the disabled, health insurance reform and initiatives for Indigenous Australians.
Dr Harmer is a Fellow of the Australian Institute of Management (AIM), the Institute of Public Administration Australia (IPAA), and ANZSOG. He has also held a range of high profile board appointments including the CSIRO (2003 & 2004) and the Health Insurance Commission (1998–2003).
Dr Harmer teaches in the following ANZSOG courses: