One year ago, Glenys Beauchamp was Secretary of the Department of Health, preparing for her upcoming retirement after nearly 40 years in the public service, including nine at Secretary level.
It had been a stellar career: as one of the first women to head a Commonwealth department, Beauchamp is the recipient of the Public Service Medal for her work co-ordinating the Australian Government’s response to the 2009 Victorian bushfires.
She was appointed Secretary of the Department of Regional Australia, Regional Development and Local Government in 2010, Secretary of the Department of Industry in 2013 (later the Department of Industry and Science) and, in 2017, took charge as Secretary of the Department of Health, one of the most important portfolios in the country with 4000 staff.
Then the COVID-19 global pandemic hit.
Ms Beauchamp was to be replaced by Chief Medical Officer Brendan Murphy but she immediately offered to return to work while the incoming department secretary handled the outbreak of the virus.
“Yes, I did retire and then before I knew it, I was back but with no second thoughts. It was the least I could do to help out,” Glenys said.
With the frenetic days of the early response now over, Glenys has set her sights on a whole new set of challenges and says her focus is on contributing to her beloved Canberra community. While originally from Sale in Victoria, Glenys calls herself a devoted Canberran, having lived in the capital for over 50 years.
“I love this city, and our community,” Glenys said.
“I have had a wonderful career with the APS and the ACT Public Service but I am pleased that I now have the opportunity to be able to support the non-for-profit sector and our local private sector. It is something I have always intended to do,” Glenys said.
Glenys has stepped into multiple senior roles already, including as chair of the Region Media Advisory Board, along with medical services pioneer and philanthropist Glenn Keys, and former senator and federal minister Kate Lundy.
Glenys said the pace of change and fragmentation in the media landscape is something that worries her. She says Australia is at a critical point in its history where the traditional players remain entrenched in the old ways of doing things and that is not servicing the needs of our democracy.
“Too many people are getting their news from unverified social media, from sites and people they choose to follow and are missing hearing news from a balanced range of views. Region Media is creating a new media model to bring reliable news and information to our local community and the fact that it is homegrown is wonderful,” Glenys said.
“In supporting the citizens and business of the region, they’ve gathered trusted voices and talented journalists, people who know the Canberra region. It is one of the few avenues we have left to engage and participate in the conversation, I really appreciate that they encourage that.
“Region Media is an avenue to support innovators and entrepreneurs, break tradition, and to make things happen. It is exciting,” Glenys said.
In her busy ‘retirement’ she has also accepted a position as Principal Advisor with award-winning government advisory firm, Proximity, providing another opportunity for her to contribute to a growing local company.
In addition to Glenys’s roles at Region Media and Proximity, she is also a member of the McGrath Foundation Board, a counsellor for Dragoman Global, and is on the Board of the Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care.
“I am committed to Canberra and want to do my bit for this city. This isn’t really retirement, it is more like the next stage of my career,” Glenys said.