Audit and Risk Committee

​​The Audit and Risk Committee (ARC) was established in August 2003 to assist the secretary of the Department in fulfilling their oversight and governance responsibilities an​d obligations under the Financial Management Act 1994.

Overview​​

The standing directions of the Minister for Finance under the Financial Management Act 1994 (section 3.2) requires 'each public sector agency to appoint an audit committee to oversee and advise the public sector agency on matters of accountability and internal control affecting the operations of the agency'.

Unlike other executive committees, ARC is responsible directly to the secretary, to oversee and provide advice on governance, risk management, audit and control assurance activities.

The current ARC includes four independent members and two internal members (departmental executives). In addition to committee members, the chief finance officer and chief audit executive attend all committee meetings.

For further information, see:​

Audit and Risk Committee members

​​The committee comprises four independent members and two internal members.

Independent members

Ms Fiona Bennett – Chair

Appointed 2 December 2013
Current term concludes: 31 December 2020

Fiona Bennett is a director of a number of entities including Hills Limited, BWX Limited and Select Harvests Limited. She is also the Chairperson of the Victorian Legal Services Board.

She is a Chartered Accountant with extensive experience in commercial and financial management, governance, risk management and audit. She has held senior executive positions at BHP Ltd and Coles Group Ltd, and has been chief financial officer of several organisations in the health sector.

Fiona is a Fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants and the Australian Institute of Company Directors.

Education:

  • BA (Hons) Geography, University College London
  • Chartered Accountant (CA) - Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales
  • Chartered Accountant (FCA) - Institute of Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand

Mr Stuart Alford, Deputy Chair

Appointed: 9 July 2015
Current term concludes: 31 July 2021

Stuart Alford previously had 40 years in professional practice with Ernst & Young, including 27 as a partner. He is a non-executive director with extensive experience in governance, risk management and auditing.

Stuart currently serves on the boards of Eastern Health Foundation, and AMES Australia (Adult Multicultural Education Services). He also has audit, risk and finance committee roles with a number of organisations, including the Victorian Curriculum and Assessment Authority, the Office of the Australian Accounting Standards Board and the Office of the Auditing and Assurance Standards Board. Stuart is also the independent chair of the Network Audit Review Panel for Pitcher Partners.

Stuart is a Fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in Australia and an Associate member of the Australian Institute of Company Directors.

Education:

  • Bachelor of Economics (Hons)
  • Monash University
  • FCA, MAICD

Helen Thornton

Appointed: 1 March 2017
Current term concludes: 28 February 2023

Helen Thornton is an experienced non-executive director and is currently on the boards of Treasury Corporation Victoria, ISPT Pty Ltd, Ansvar Insurance Pty Ltd, Yarra Valley Water, Austin Health and Legal Practitioners Liability Committee.

Helen is also an independent member of the Audit and Risk Committees for the departments of Environment, Land, Water and Planning and Health and Human Services.

She is a Chartered Accountant with extensive experience in finance, risk management, governance and both internal and external auditing. Helen was the Vice President Risk Management at BlueScope Steel Ltd and has held senior positions at BHP Billiton Ltd, KPMG and Deloitte.

Helen is a member of the Institute of Chartered Accountants and the Australian Institute of Company Directors.

Education:

  • Bachelor of Economics (Monash)
  • Chartered Accountant (CA) – Institute of Chartered Accountants (Australia)
  • Graduate - Australian Institute of Company Directors

Andrew Nicolaou

Anrew NicolaouAppointed: 1 January 2020
Current term concludes: 31 December 2022

Andrew is an experienced non-executive director with extensive skills and expertise in assurance, risk management, governance, financial management and performance consulting. He has had 38 years in professional practice with PwC including 24 years as a Partner. In that time, his role included leading PwC's Government Practice in Victoria, interacting with senior executives, Cabinet Ministers, Parliamentarians and boards.

Andrew currently serves as Chair of audit, risk, and governance committees for the Department of Transport, Grampians Wimmera Mallee Water, and the Victorian Parliament. Andrew has previously served on the Board of the State Trustees Group, Victoria.

Andrew specialised in advising financial institutions in banking, insurance, funds management and treasury in both the private and government sectors.

Andrew is a Fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in Australia, a Graduate Member of the Australian Institute of Company Directors and a Fellow of the Institute of Public Administration Australia.

Education:

  • Bachelor of Economics - Monash
  • Fellow Chartered Accountant (FCA) - Institute of Chartered Accountants (Australia)
  • Graduate - Australian Institute of Company Directors
  • Fellow Institute of Public Administration Australia (FIPAA)

Deputy executive members

Ms Kate Rattigan, Deputy Secretary, People and Executive Services

Appointed: 8 December 2015
Current term concludes: 31 December 2021

People and Executive Services group leads services and advice in the areas of human resources, people and culture, communications and media, legal and ministerial support, operational policy reform, occupational health and safety, integrity reform and audit. The group provides direct services to the Department’s central office, regional offices and government schools.

Kate is currently the Chairperson of the Department's Procurement and Probity Committee and is the Secretary’s nominee on the VRQA Board.

In Kate's previous role as Executive Director of the Legal Division, she provided strategic oversight of the Department's legal matters. This included the provision of advice to ministers, the secretary, executives, managers, regional directors, school principals and school councils on all aspects of legislation, regulations and other statutory instruments, as well as advising on employment law and workplace relations matters, administrative law, commercial law and education law matters.

Currently, Kate is leading the Department’s Employee Wellbeing and Operational Policy reforms.

Education:

  • Bachelor of Laws (Honours) / Bachelor of Arts – University of Melbourne
  • Masters in Employment and Labour Relations Law – University of Melbourne

Chris Thompson, Assistant Deputy Secretary,
School and Regional Services

Appointed: 1 March 2020
Current term concludes: 28 February 2023

Chris Thompson is Assistant Deputy Secretary of the Schools and Regional Services Group in the Department of Education and Training. He is responsible for supporting the strategy and operations of Victoria’s government school system – including the Department’s four regions – and security and emergency management.

Before starting his current role, Chris was the Executive Director for North East Melbourne Area, one of Victoria’s 17 education areas. He was responsible for leading a large multidisciplinary team supporting the operations and improvement of approximately 130 government schools and 350 early childhood services. This followed a period acting as the Deputy Regional Director for the North-Western Victoria Region. Chris has previously held executive roles in the Department, including roles responsible for education policy relating to languages, sport and multicultural, Koorie and rural students.

Chris has previously worked in the Victorian Departments of Premier and Cabinet, Planning and Community Development and Human Services.

Education:

  • Bachelor of Arts (Honours)/Bachelor of Laws – Monash University
  • Executive Master of Public Administration – University of Melbourne/Australia and New Zealand School of Government