Southern health district shake-up to "provide clean slate" says Minister Brad Hazzard

Janet Compton

Janet Compton

Southern NSW Local Health District chief executive Janet Compton and board chairwoman Jenny Symons are both out of a job today.

The huge shakeup of our region’s health district was flagged by NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard late Thursday. 

The tenure of Ms Compton has been seen by many in the community as on borrowed time with numerous complaints about service delivery, staff shortages, and public outcry surrounding the contract non-renewal of the South East Regional Hospital’s head orthopaedic surgeon.

While the scope of the concerns don’t rest on just one set of shoulders, the Minister has made a decision he said is “providing a clean slate” to “move in a new direction”.

Listening is a good start, and engagement is a good outcome.

NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard

This is the second chief executive role vacated by Ms Compton inside two years. She resigned from Melbourne’s Northern Hospital in August 2015 amid government and community concerns about the facility’s performance.

Mr Hazzard said effective today (Friday, August 4), Julie Mooney will be acting chief executive for the SNSWLHD, with recruitment to begin immediately to appoint a new chief executive.

Meanwhile, the appointment of Dr Allan Hawke AC as new chairman of the SNSWLHD board follows the conclusion of Jenny Symons’ four years in the role.

Dr Allan Hawke has been announced as the new chairman of the Southern NSW Local Health District board. Picture: Rohan Thomson, The Canberra Times

Dr Allan Hawke has been announced as the new chairman of the Southern NSW Local Health District board. Picture: Rohan Thomson, The Canberra Times

“There have obviously been some challenges in the local health area and these changes will provide a clean slate to move forward and rewrite community involvement in the local health district, “ Mr Hazzard said.

“My earnest message to the board members and new executive is to work very closely with the community, clinicians and clinical staff and value their contribution.

“Listening is a good start, and engagement is a good outcome,” he said.

Dr Hawke is a former High Commissioner to New Zealand and Chancellor of the Australian National University.

He spent more than three decades in the Commonwealth Public Service, rising to the rank of Deputy Secretary of the Departments of Defence and Prime Minister and Cabinet, then Secretary of Defence, Veterans’ Affairs, Transport and Regional Services.

“I am very pleased that Dr Hawke has agreed to take up this important role,” Mr Brad Hazzard said.

“He brings a wealth of relevant experience, and most significantly, he is a local lad who was born in Queanbeyan, went to school in Queanbeyan, before earning a Bachelor of Science and a PhD at ANU.

“Dr Hawke’s appointment demonstrates that we have listened to the Southern NSW community.”

Jenny Symons

Jenny Symons

Mr Hazzard said Dr Hawke’s impressive record in public administration, along with his local knowledge, made him “the obvious choice to steer SNSWLHD’s board in a new direction which will prioritise community involvement and listening to community concerns”.

As well as leading 21 major independent reviews for the Federal, ACT, NSW, Northern Territory and Victorian governments, Dr Hawke is chairman of the Canberra Raiders, a director of Datacom and Lockheed Martin Australia, president of ACT Barnados and a member of the CEDA (Committee for Economic Development Australia) board of governors.

Bega MP Andrew Constance said the region “desperately needs a fresh start”.

“I have full admiration for Jenny Symons and the work she has done and leadership shown over her four-year term [as board chairwoman],” Mr Constance said.

“So many of us fought for so long to get this new hospital and good things happen there every day. But I have to say the community, I think, wants a lot more confidence in the governance at the top.

“This is a very big region, not just this facility [SERH] and failures in governance can’t come down on one single individual.

“Now the Minister has made this decision and we expect to see a change in direction.”


This story Janet Compton replaced as southern health district head first appeared on Bega District News.