Secretary of the Department of Veterans' Affairs

Media release
11 Apr 2018
Prime Minister

Mr Simon Lewis PSM has advised me of his intention to resign from his position as Secretary of the Department of Veterans’ Affairs with effect from 18 May 2018.

Mr Lewis’s long and distinguished career in the Australian Public Service has spanned more than four decades. Before being appointed as Secretary in 2013, Mr Lewis served at senior levels in the Departments of Defence and Finance.

Mr Lewis has performed with distinction as Secretary of Veterans’ Affairs and can be proud of his many achievements. Thanks to his stewardship, services to veterans and their families are being significantly modernised and improved, and the transformation programme he initiated is driving real change to culture and processes. 

His leadership of the commemoration of Australian Defence Force service and sacrifice over the ANZAC Centenary period was exemplary. It enabled Australians to celebrate and remember the proud history of veterans past and present.

I thank Mr Lewis for his dedication and service to the Australian people and wish him the very best for the future.

It is my intention to recommend to the Governor-General that he appoint Elizabeth Cosson AM CSC as the Secretary of the Department of Veterans’ Affairs.

Ms Cosson has been the Deputy Secretary and Chief Operating Officer at DVA since May 2016. Her public service career also includes senior appointments in the Departments of Health and Immigration and Citizenship.

Ms Cosson’s career in the Australian Army spanned over three decades and she was the first woman promoted to the rank of Major General. She was appointed as a Member of the Order of Australia in 2011 for exceptional service to the Australian Army and the broader Defence organisation. She was also awarded a Conspicuous Service Cross in 2001 for outstanding achievement as the Chief of Staff, Peace Monitoring Group, Bougainville, and in logistic planning and management of the Combat Force of Land Headquarters.

As the Department of Veterans’ Affairs marks the centenary of its establishment as the Repatriation Department, I am delighted that it can also celebrate the appointment of its first female Secretary.

With Ms Cosson’s appointment, we have now achieved gender parity at the most senior level of the APS, with nine women and nine men serving as Commonwealth Secretaries.