Health Department boss resigns after hotel quarantine bungles

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The secretary of the Victorian Health Department, Kym Peake, has resigned from her position.

Ms Peake faced significant pressure during the hotel quarantine debacle as the bureaucrat in charge of one of the key departments involved in the program.

Health Department boss Kym Peake during the hotel quarantine inquiry.Credit:

She will be replaced by Professor Euan Wallace, the chief executive of Safer Care Victoria who has been seconded to the Health Department to jointly manage contact tracing and outbreak management.

In a statement, Premier Daniel Andrews thanked Ms Peake for her work and said she "decided to step down from the position to pursue other opportunities".

"Ms Peake has led significant reform that has touched the lives of many Victorians including the relief and recovery from recent bushfires, the establishment of the Mental Health Royal Commission, and the delivery of many of the recommendations from the Family Violence Royal Commission.

"We thank Ms Peake for her dedicated service to Victoria and for her tireless commitment throughout the pandemic and her time with DHHS. We wish her well for the future."

In evidence to the hotel quarantine inquiry, Ms Peake said she had not briefed her minister, Jenny Mikakos, on safety concerns with the program, even after a suspected suicide and a delay in transferring a COVID-19 positive quarantine detainee to intensive care.

The Health Department was forced to hand over additional emails to the inquiry after it concluded its hearings. The non-disclosure was one of the reasons the inquiry required additional time to complete its final report.

Ms Mikakos resigned over the hotel quarantine scandal in September. Chris Eccles, who ran the Department of Premier and Cabinet, resigned in October.

Professor Wallace has been seconded from Safer Care Victoria, where he is chief executive, to the Health Department in recent months. He has been jointly responsible for contact tracing and outbreak management

An academic obstetrician and gynaecologist by training, Professor Wallace is Professor of Obstetrics and Gynaecology at Monash University.

Professor Wallace will start as departmental secretary on November 17.

Mr Andrews said Professor Wallace was a widely respected health-sector leader who is "well-placed to lead the department through its next phase of pandemic response and recovery".

More to come

If you or anyone you know needs support call Lifeline on 131 114, or Beyond Blue's coronavirus mental wellbeing support service on 1800 512 348.

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