It is with deep sadness that we reflect on the remarkable life of Peter Noonan. Peter had a long and distinguished career. Initially he was focussed on vocational education and training, working for and heading up various state departments and GM in the Australian National Training Authority upon its inception. Further years of consultancy and academic work saw the volume and breadth of his work expand. It is during this time he became a passionate advocate and policy architect for a reconceptualised tertiary sector. Much of his work at the Mitchell Institute progressed this.
Peter was unwavering in his belief in two things. First, the transformative power of education and training to change lives and trajectories, particularly for young people, and second, public policy as an instrument to design (or redesign) the best possible system to achieve that end. From the beginning of his career until his final months he applied his intellect and effort to these two interconnected causes.
He was a perennial and highly influential figure in the world of education policy in Australia, with his unique thinking and contribution sought by political and public policy decision-makers of all stripes for over 40 years. Uniquely, Peter was as comfortable traversing the corridors of Canberra, as he was at a board meeting, universities, the commercial world of consulting and public service reviews and inquiries. Yet he was never merely a political adviser, academic, consultant or public servant.
All his work was shaped by a belief in the potential of every one of us to change and grow if given the right opportunities, influences and inputs. His view of the world was not one of pre-determined intelligence, class or destiny, but of wide open possibilities.
Peter was involved in a number of boards and committees. Most notable was his involvement in the Bradley Review of Higher Education, schooling resources standard for the Gonski Review of government school funding, and more recently he chaired the Expert Panel for the Review of the AQF. This has become known as the ‘Noonan Review of the AQF’.
Peter also worked with Ai Group continuously over the years. As a consultant, he undertook the ‘Skilling Existing Workforce’ project in 2008. Several other collaborations followed. Ai Group established the Centre for Education & Training in April 2021. Peter joined as an inaugural board member and made a significant contribution in a short period of time.
The Centre for Education & Training is deeply indebted to his contribution to our board but also acknowledge and celebrate the enormity of his contribution over decades to industry, individuals, education and training.
Vale Peter Noonan