Public Sector Commissioner awarded prestigious education medal

19 July 2019

Dr Anne Coffey, Dr Phil Lambert, Ms Sharyn O'Neill
Left to right: Dr Anne Coffey, President ACE WA; Dr Phil Lambert, PSM FACE; Ms Sharyn O'Neill, Public Sector Commissioner. (Image courtesy of Catholic Education Office of WA)
Public Sector Commissioner Sharyn O’Neill was awarded the Australian College of Educators (WA) Medal on Tuesday 16 July in recognition of her achievements in education.
Before being appointed Commissioner, Ms O’Neill was Director General of the Department of Education for 12 years and made a significant contribution to education in Western Australia and nationally.
Ms O’Neill accepted the award and addressed the audience by touching on some of the beliefs she has held throughout her career.
“I truly believe in the power of education – because it changes individual lives, it changes generations and changes the course of history,” she said.
“That’s what makes working in education a truly leading and giving mission, because it’s a vocation of higher purpose.”
Ms O’Neill was instrumental in leading major reforms in education, such as changes to public school funding and structures, and her initiatives substantially improved the quality of education for WA students.
I believe in the need for positive social change, of which education is a big part. We live in a privileged society, a prosperous place – it’s a rich place – but not everyone benefits from that.
“My drive in education and in the work I do comes from a very deep place, from a family built strongly on solid values and morals, ably forged by my parents. They taught me and my brothers that we have a responsibility to think of something bigger than ourselves.”
Acknowledging teachers as heroes, Ms O’Neill reiterated the importance of protecting and nurturing children.
“We have to support children and do everything possible to help them reach their potential. We want children to be the best versions of themselves,” she said.
Ms O’Neill thanked the Australian College of Educators for acknowledging her work.
“I am humbled to see my name alongside the names of previous recipients of this medal such as former vice chancellors, esteemed academics, education sector leaders and even a former Director General of Education,” she said.
“I accept the 2019 College medal with pride.”
The College is 60 years old this year and has just joined forces with the Australian Council for Educational Research. As part of its anniversary celebrations, national president Dr Phil Lambert spoke about how education systems across the world are changing their approach to schooling.
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Page last updated 19 July 2019