Murphy announces retirement as DoH chief

3 minute read

The search is on for a new Secretary for the Department of Health and Aged Care.

Professor Brendan Murphy will retire from his role as secretary of the Department of Health and Aged Care on 6 July.

Professor Murphy served as the country’s chief medical officer from 2016 through until June 2020, before taking on the secretariat.

Health Minister Mark Butler said he wished Professor Murphy well in his retirement and thanked him for his “professionalism”.

“Australians got to know Professor Murphy throughout the pandemic as he led the Department of Health during its biggest public health response in over 100 years,” Mr Butler said.

“Professor Murphy’s time as secretary was broader than just covid, he has overseen the start of aged care, mental health, primary care and health workforce reform.”

Professor Steve Robson, president of the AMA said Professor Murphy had been “the first medical doctor to run the department in almost 40 years”.

“Professor Brendan Murphy was a steady hand during the pandemic, first as Chief Medical Officer and then as the Secretary of the Department,” said Professor Robson.

“He was the joint recipient of the AMA President’s Award in 2021 in recognition of his service.”

“As CMO, Professor Murphy was instrumental in establishing the National Medical Workforce Strategy and working closely with the AMA on its development. He was well respected across the profession from Doctors in Training to Fellows.”

President of the RACGP, Dr Nicole Higgins said Professor Murphy had “worked tirelessly”.

“We are now at a pivotal time – our nation needs serious reforms and funding to ensure everyone in Australia can access the care they need into the future, no matter their postcode or income. I look forward to working with the future Secretary of the Department of Health and Aged Care to this end. Australians must not settle for anything less,” she said.

Shadow Minister Anne Ruston praised Professor Murphy for his “expert and steadfast advice”.

Public service news website The Mandarin, said Murphy’s departure announcement marked the start of the “Albanese government’s pre-Budget clearing of secretarial ranks”.

“Labor was a trenchant critic of the Morrison government’s sometimes flat-footed covid response that the then regime sheeted back to experts like Murphy,” the article said.

“A particular bone of contention was the Morrison government’s handling of the ATAGI advice on risks and age brackets for the Astra Zeneca covid vaccine that saw millions of Australians shun the product as the virus ripped through the population.”

President of the Pharmaceutical Society of Australia, Dr Fei Sim thanked Professor Murphy.  

“Under [his] leadership, the federal government made the largest investment in pharmacy outside of the Community Pharmacy Agreement, announcing $345.7 million to embed pharmacists in residential aged care facilities to improve medicine safety for our oldest Australians,” Dr Sim said.

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