Have you considered a role on a Government Board?

Have you considered a role on a Government Board?
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Governance roles span the Commercial, Not for Profit, and Government sectors. Each of them has different entry requirements and levels of skills and experience – most are open to new Directors or those with limited governance experience. In this, and following, articles I will be spending time outlining for you how to find a board appointment in each of these sectors. Whilst not everyone wants a government board appointment there are many who recognise the value of these appointments and are well suited to these roles. For those of you who are not interested in a public appointment, this article should still offer some value. In either case, read on.

Why consider a Government Board?

For many of you, the answer will be obvious. Serving on a government board can give you the opportunity to exercise significant leadership, manage multiple-dollar budgets, develop new relationships, evidence strategic experience and gain clearly demonstrated public sector experience with increased responsibility that can be valuable to your future career goals.

For others, the cultural fit isn’t going to be right. That is ok it is good to know what you don’t want, and what is right for you, as much as what you do. If this is you then skip down to the last paragraph to read about how you can leverage government boards to drive a more commercial or not for profit board appointment.

What is a Government Board and how many exist?

In NSW there are approximately 400 centrally reported government boards and committees with approximately 4400 members. In Victoria there are 884 boards and committees and here are more than 300 Queensland Government boards, committees. There are 116 active Tasmanian Government boards with approximately 760 members.

These boards and committees are diverse in terms of functions, form, size and the way in which they operate. They encompass boards of government trading enterprises, marketing boards, regulatory boards, professional registration boards, Area Health Service boards, trust boards and advisory councils and committees. 

Further, the https://www.directory.gov.au/boards-and-other-entities website lists 1232 (at last count) Australian Government boards and other entities. These Australian Government boards are categorised as: Bodies covered by the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act 2013; Ministerial Advisory Committees; Review committees where appointments are made by a Minister or the Cabinet or Commonwealth statutory authorities. Australian Government entities are considered as anything that isn’t otherwise categorised as a portfolio, organisation or board. Typically, they include things like panels, funds, holdings, and Pty Ltd Commonwealth companies. According to the Gender Balance on Australian Government Boards Report for 2018-19, in 2019 alone 2,313 new board positions were filled across Federal Government Boards.

Where do you find them?

There are various places you can find vacancies on Australia’s government boards. Although many government board roles are advertised on the Board Direction website, you can also view them on the individual State and Territory Governments’ own websites. They can be difficult to find so we provide our members with a full list of these websites.


It is worth taking a look at these Government Boards websites for a couple of reasons.

One might think that the only valuable information someone looking for a board role can find is a list of current vacancies – that is not true. Apart from finding available board roles, there are two other very good reasons.

Firstly, on the Government Boards websites, you will not only find the names of the boards but also a full list of the Chairs and current board members. These sites are regularly updated, so they remain current. As such it is a natural place for you to begin your research and your networking.

Secondly, this site not only has the names of current board members but also the date that their appointment term comes to fruition. If you are interested in serving on one of these boards, then you can diarise a time to approach the Chair with a proposal for you to sit on their board. This proactive approach can be very attractive and demonstrates not only proactiveness but also intelligence and determination – good qualities for prospective board members to have!

Not interested in a Government Board Appointment?

Even if you do not desire a role with a government board, the people who sit on these boards are the influencers in your areas of interest or industry as such, they can be incredibly valuable. Moreover, I recommend using the list of board members available on this site as a readymade list of individuals that you could approach to discuss current industry issues or to introduce yourself to regarding your wish to further your board aspirations. Headhunters call these board members to ask if they are interested in board appointments but also if they know of anyone they could recommend. You should get to know the people on these boards as part of your strategy to gain a board appointment whether it be a commercial, not for profit or public appointment. 

The Next Step

If you are looking to obtain a board appointment in 2020, consider enrolling the 28 Day Board Appointment Intensive. You will learn how the 3 A’s – Aspiration, Articulation & Application – can lead to a board appointment.

Regardless of your level of experience or skills, you will learn what you need to know to develop a board career. The sessions are interactive, providing you with plans and tips that you can put into practice straight away.

28 Day Board Intensive Program

About the Author

David Schwarz is CEO & Founder of Board Direction – Australia’s leading board advertising and non-executive career support firm. He has over a decade of experience of putting people on boards as an international headhunter and a non-executive recruiter and has interviewed over one thousand non-executives and placed hundreds into some of the most significant public, private and NFP roles in the world

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