Karen Harfield

Karen Harfield

General Manager

Information Debt and Appeals Division, Department of Human Services


Karen Harfield joined the Australian Public Service in 2008 and is currently the General Manager of the Information Debt and Appeals Division for the Department of Human Services.  In this role she leads the  delivery of contemporary debt recovery strategies which form part of the department’s broader agenda to protect the integrity of welfare payments, the department’s appeals process (in relation to Centrelink and certain Child Support decisions) and is responsible for the management and provision of information and data in the department including strategic development work in the areas of public data management and integration, and the department’s contribution to whole of government research initiatives through the application of integrated data, data analytics and information assets that are credible, authoritative and accessible. Prior to joining the Department of Human Services, Karen was the First Assistant Secretary Intelligence for the Department of Immigration and Border Protection. In this role Karen led the collection of intelligence and the provision of intelligence analysis, assessment and production as well as data analytics to support policy and strategy, administrative decision makers and operational activity. In 2011 Karen led the implementation of a whole of organisation change management programme whilst at the Australian Crime Commission, reframing its organisational vision and purpose, delivering a new operating model with new performance measures and associated governance.  Karen also led the programme of work developing the National Intelligence Fusion Capability that provides sophisticated data analytics and visualisation tools used in multiple cross-government operations and task-forces. Prior to moving to Australia with her family Karen spent sixteen years in UK law enforcement working for Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary, the National Crime Squad and Warwickshire Police.   Karen acquired strategic and operational expertise in a variety of roles including intelligence, audit and inspection, investigation, and community policing.  Karen co-authors Covert Investigation published by Oxford University Press (first published in 2005). Karen has also co-authored Investigation, Community and Partnerships (OUP 2008) and is a contributing author to edited scholarly volumes dealing with professional standards, governance and integrity.   Karen holds a Bachelor of Science Honours degree from Liverpool University, is a qualified senior investigating officer, with command level qualifications for a variety of operational activity.  Karen is the recipient of two Royal Humane Society Awards for Bravery and the Queens Jubilee Medal for police service.

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