Dr Helen Szoke appointed new Oxfam chief executive

Media Releases, News article written on the 29 Nov 2012

International aid agency Oxfam Australia has appointed Race Discrimination Commissioner Dr Helen Szoke as its Chief Executive, taking up the reins held for 11 years by Andrew Hewett.

Dr Szoke, who will start the position in February 2013, said joining Oxfam was “a once in a life-time opportunity”.

Oxfam Australia Board Chair Dr Jane Hutchison welcomed the appointment and said Dr Szoke’s background in advocating for a fairer society for all would be invaluable in leading Oxfam’s work to fight poverty and injustice, both in Australia and overseas.

“At a time when the world is facing persistent serious poverty and growing inequality, Dr Szoke’s commitment to building fair communities and her impressive record of achievement in human rights and social change will ensure Oxfam continues to be a leading voice for a just world without poverty,” she said.

Dr Szoke said: “I’ve been a long-time supporter of Oxfam’s work and its approach that places human rights and gender equality at the very heart of development.

“Oxfam delivers life saving emergency responses and life changing development projects and campaigns. I’m looking forward to working closely with staff, partners and the Australian community to help achieve its vision.

“I’m particularly a strong admirer of Oxfam’s programs to improve the lives of Indigenous Australians, especially its work with the Close the Gap campaign for Indigenous health equality,” she said.

Dr Szoke has been federal Race Discrimination Commissioner since September 2011, following seven years with the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission.

After 21 years with Oxfam, Andrew Hewett will leave the organisation in December.

Dr. Hutchison paid tribute to Mr Hewett: “He has been an outstanding chief executive and has overseen major growth in Oxfam’s programs around the world.”

For more information, or to set up an interview with Dr Helen Szoke, contact:

Oxfam Australia Media Manager Rachael Nightingale on 0449 881 980 or rachaeln@oxfam.org.au