Robin Sullivan

Interviewed by
Danielle Miller
Sep 13 2010
Robin Sullivan
Time Summary Keywords
00:00:00 Robin Sullivan discusses her early career in the Education Department before taking up a range of positions in the public service. She discusses being the first married woman school principal in Queensland, and the discrimination she faced in this and her later role as a school/TAFE inspector. Education Department, sexual discrimination, women
00:03:30 Robin Sullivan discusses the function of school inspectors, and her experience of the role. Education Department
00:06:10 Robin Sullivan outlines her decision to join the public service in terms of a search for development, and the climate of reform. She discusses the additional skills she was able to bring to the role because she had real life experience of teaching. Paul Braddy, Roger Scott, school teacher, social justice
00:09:53 Robin Sullivan discusses becoming the first woman Deputy Director General of Education in 1997 in the context of contemporary social justice reforms, and her interest in expanding these reforms into curriculum development. She comments on the discrimination she faced in taking on the role, and talks about changing approaches to numeracy and literacy, and the notion of a national curriculum. Education Department, Paul Braddy, Roger Scott, sexism, sexual discrimination, social justice, women
00:12:41 Robin Sullivan describes her interactions with education lobby groups as a teacher in the latter days of the Bjelke-Petersen Government, and again as a public servant in the Goss Government. She comments on the growing influence of industry groups on educational policy, and the push for a national set of core competencies. Bjelke-Petersen Government 1968-87, Goss Government 1989-96, MACOS, Roger Scott, SEMP
00:15:35 Robin Sullivan notes the early attempts at interstate co-operation over school curriculum, and the contention over matters related to environment and Indigenous history. She discusses the genesis of the Smart State slogan, and comments that it had far more impact on tertiary and industrial education than on schools. Beattie Government 1998-2007, COAG, Glyn Davis, Goss Government 1989-96, Indigenous issues, Smart State
00:20:50 Robin Sullivan discusses Smart State, commenting that the Education Department had very little input into any related policies, and reaped little reward from any programs. Education Department, Smart State, Teachers Union
00:23:00 Robin Sullivan discusses her decision to take up an appointment as Children and Young People's Commissioner and her desire to combat some of the fundamental threats to children. She discusses her attempts to re-invigorate and strengthen the office and the conflicts that arose with the Minister for Families, Anna Bligh, before the commission was moved from her department to Premier's. Anna Bligh, Borbidge Government 1996-98, child sexual abuse, Children and Young People's Commission, Crime and Misconduct Commission, Family Services, Peter Beattie, Premier's Department
00:28:18 Robin Sullivan discusses the Blue Card, the initial difficulties in setting it up, and the fact that it has now become a national benchmark in terms of training, policy and procedures. Children and Young People's Commission, Police
00:32:00 Robin Sullivan discusses her desire to encourage change through education rather than punishment. She describes the research programs she introduced, including an annual report on the status of children in Queensland, the role of fathers, and broader research conducted with the commissions in NSW and Tasmania which was the impetus for the Longitudinal Study of Australian Children. Children and Young People's Commission, Peter Beattie
00:36:27 Robin Sullivan discusses her involvement with the CMC inquiry into child protection, the issues the commission identified, and the way this played out in the 2004 state election. She discusses the strengthening of the Children and Young People's Commission, and the creation of the Child Guardian and of the new Department of Child Safety. child protection, Child Safety, Children and Young People's Commission, Crime and Misconduct Commission, Family Services
00:41:05 Robin Sullivan details the implementation of the CMC recommendations, and her decision to take up the position of Director General of the Department of Child Safety. She discusses the success and failures of the new department. Child Safety, Children and Young People's Commission, Crime and Misconduct Commission, Mike Reynolds, Peter Beattie
00:44:54 Robin Sullivan discusses staff attitudes to the implementation of the new child protection policies, and the difficulties of dealing with the media and freedom of information requests. She discusses her interaction with lobby groups and non-government agencies. child protection legislation, Child Safety, Freedom of Information, non-government agencies, unions
00:49:05 Robin Sullivan discusses the 2006 strike by child safety workers, work load analysis, and the department's response to the abuse of Indigenous children. Child Safety, child sexual abuse, Indigenous issues
00:52:11 Robin Sullivan discusses the method of appointment of directors general and commissioners, and comments on the various Education Ministers under which she served. Anna Bligh, Bob Quinn, David Hamill, Dean Wells, directors general, Mike Reynolds, Pat Comben, Paul Braddy, relationship with ministers, social justice
00:56:21 Robin Sullivan describes what she thinks makes a good Education Minister and the role of political advisors. Anna Bligh, ministerial advisers
00:59:27 Robin Sullivan reflects on her greatest achievements during her career, such as the Blue Card, the advancement of the Children and Young People's Commission, and her wide travel throughout the state.
01:01:49 Robin Sullivan comments on the disappointments of her career, particularly the detrimental effect that politicisation is having on the public service.
01:03:37 Interview ends.