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Who is the Merit Protection Commissioner?

Ms Linda Waugh

Commencing in the role in June 2018, Ms Linda Waugh is the current Merit Protection Commissioner for the Australian Public Service and the Parliamentary Service.

Ms Waugh has over 20 years experience working within integrity agencies including the Queensland Crime and Corruption Commission, the NSW Independent Commission Against Corruption, the NSW Ombudsman and the Victorian Ombudsman. Within these agencies she has held a variety of leadership roles working across the statutory functions of investigation, prevention, and education.

Ms Waugh has led large and complex investigations, been responsible for public sector research programs and the development of better practice publications on government administration and corruption prevention. Ms Waugh has conducted several legislative reviews at the request of the NSW Government, and implemented a state-wide training program directed toward building public sector integrity. She has deep experience in complaints handling and has worked across a variety of jurisdictions.

What is the role of the Merit Protection Commissioner?

The Merit Protection Commissioner is an independent statutory office holder established under the Public Service Act 1999 and the Parliamentary Service Act 1999 who performs a range of statutory functions for the Australian Public Service and Parliamentary Service.

Those functions relate to the implementation of, and compliance with, the relevant employment frameworks and principles of the public and parliamentary service, as well as the operation of the broader integrity framework. We do this work principally through independent review of employment related action and decisions raised by Australian Public Service and Parliamentary Service employees.  

Staff in the Office of the Merit Protection Commissioner are employees of the Australian Public Service Commission. Under the Public Service Act, the Australian Public Service Commission provides staff, corporate support and services to assist the Merit Protection Commissioner to perform her statutory functions.

What does the Merit Protection Commissioner do?

In particular, the Merit Protection Commissioner is responsible for the following:

  • conducting independent reviews of employment actions, including Code of Conduct decisions and promotion reviews
  • providing recruitment services and Code of Conduct inquiry services to APS agencies
  • supporting public sector agencies more broadly with employment-related services on a fee-for-service basis
  • conducting special inquiries.

The Commissioner’s functions are as set out in sections 50 and 50A of the Public Service Act 1999. Further information on the Commissioner’s functions can be found in brochures on the publications page.

Why have a system of review?

An impartial, independent and fair system of review of employment decisions:

  • supports integrity and accountability in public administration
  • encourages positive, respectful and professional working relationships
  • enables agencies to learn from complaints and grievances and continually improve their management of employment disputes and decision-making.