The Hon. John Watkins AM


John has had a rewarding and successful career with extensive experience in senior leadership roles including Deputy Premier, Minister, CEO, University Chancellor, Board Director and Chair.

In October 2017 John retired as CEO of Alzheimer’s Australia NSW after nine years in the role, when the company moved from a State based federation to a unified national entity, Dementia Australia.   At Alzheimer’s Australia NSW John was involved in the major ageing and dementia challenges facing our community.  John was, therefore, pleased to accept in June 2018 an appointment as a Dementia Australia Ambassador.

In November 2016 John was appointed to the Board of Catholic Professional Standards Ltd, an independent company tasked with establishing and auditing standards regarding professional behavior towards children and vulnerable people, for employees of Catholic Church entities throughout Australia.

The new company was the result of recommendations of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.

Since November 2010 John has also been Chair of the Board of the Little Company of Mary Health Care Ltd, (Calvary Healthcare) one of Australia’s largest not for profit Catholic health providers.  The company has over 11,000 employees and a turnover of more than $1B per year and is responsible for over twenty public and private hospitals, aged care institutions and extensive community care services through most Australian States and Territories.   John is the Calvary representative on the Board of Catholic Health Australia.

John is also Chair of Mary MacKillop Today, a company of the Sisters of St Joseph that provides overseas aid and assistance to communities in East Timor, Papua New Guinea and Peru, support to indigenous tertiary students throughout Australia and no interest loans to the community of Western NSW.  He was originally appointed to this role in June 2012.

In August 2018 John was appointed to the Governing Council of Neurological Research Australia (NeuRA) and John is also a member of the Advisory Committee for the Centre for Emotional Health at Macquarie University.   In 2013 John was awarded an honorary doctorate by Macquarie University for his services to the community.

Between October 2011 and October 2018 John also Chaired the McKell Institute, a progressive independent think tank based in NSW and designed to encourage community debate with practical, thought provoking ideas through commissioned research.

In 2011 John served as the Chair of the NSW Centenary of Anzac Commemoration Committee and in June 2014 the Premier of NSW appointed John as a member of an independent expert panel to consider political donation reform in NSW.  John has been an Australia Day Ambassador since 2011.

John was announced as a Member of the Order of Australia (AM) in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List  in 2015 for his significant service to the community through leadership in health, education and to the Parliament of NSW.

Prior to his appointment at Alzheimer’s Australia NSW, John was a member of the NSW Parliament between 1995 and 2008. He was sworn in as Deputy Premier in August 2005 and was also the NSW Transport Minister and Minister for Finance when he resigned from politics in September 2008.

Previously he had held six other Ministerial appointments including the portfolios of State Development, Police (twice), Education and Training, Corrective Services, Fair Trading and Sport and Recreation. He was also Minister responsible for World Youth Day 2008, the APEC Conference in 2007 and other major events.  He also served as the Legislative Assembly representative on the Macquarie University Council for six years.

John graduated in Arts and Law from the University of NSW. He also holds a Master of Arts from Macquarie University and a Diploma of Education from Sydney Teachers College. He worked as a teacher for 16 years until his election to Parliament in 1995.

He is married to Deborah and they have five children – three girls and two boys and four grandchildren.

LLB MA DipEd HonDLitt Macq