During a busy work day, few people can hold the attention of a room quite like Local Infrastructure Deputy Secretary Terry Garwood.

Terry’s pubic speaking is as extensive and fascinating as his background.

As Victoria’s most senior Aboriginal public servant and recipient of the 2018 Queen’s Birthday Public Service Medal (PSM), Terry has executive experience across health, public housing, disability services, aboriginal affairs, transport, marine freight and logistics, child protection and more.

If you’ve been lucky enough to hear Terry speak you’ve probably caught little pearls of wisdom such as the Christian Dior aftershave “integrity moment” Terry described at last year’s IPAA Victoria regional conference, which you can read more about here.

This month, after receiving the PSM medal, Terry shared some professional reflections with the Local Infrastructure Group at a morning tea:

“If you look out you see a prosperous, harmonious community but we can’t take it for granted. As public servants we play a vital role in the society we live in,” Terry said.

“Governments come and go, and our job is to give them the best possible advice and implement their policies and programs. That’s easier with some governments and ministers than others, but staying focused on the public good and what we contribute to the society around us is the starting and ending point.”

As a member of the Yorta Yorta people, Aboriginal Affairs is a particular passion of Terry’s.

“For me it’s about making the most powerless in our community powerful. Government hold all the cards, but you can’t deal any of those cards out, and you’ve got no deal to be made unless you’ve got agreement and partnership with Aboriginal people.”

It’s at this point during the speech that Terry is working hard to keep his eyes dry. It’s clear that much of his professional success comes from the passion and life experience brings he brings to work. Work is not just a job to pay the bills – it’s an opportunity for meaningful contribution.

“We bring our whole selves to work, we bring our family, our connections to community, we bring our ancestors with us. For me that’s been an important motivator.”

“For some of the old aunties and old dears in my life I hope I’ve lived up to their expectations, they have mentored and provided a lot of support to me.”

Terry is humbled by his receiving a PSM and sees it more as a testament to the people he’s had the privilege of working with.

“You don’t accomplish things by yourself, you really accomplish them with other people”

“As you get more senior you have to let go of the reigns – work with other people, to support them and provide the right environment – to achieve together. It’s a bit of a transition, learning to get satisfaction through the work of others”

Terry says DELWP has given him that satisfaction, and that his success is in fact our success.

Congratulations to Terry on behalf of the whole DELWP community.