Vice-Chancellor Professor Fred Hilmer has announced that Dr Peter Shergold will head the new Centre for Social Impact (CSI) being established at UNSW, in collaboration with the University of Melbourne and Swinburne University of Technology.

Dr Shergold, who has served for the past five years as Secretary of the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, will join the Centre in February 2008.

The CSI will build the capacity of Australia's non-for-profit (NFP) sector, philanthropic endeavour and the development of social responsibility in the corporate sector. It will be centred within the top ranking Australian School of Business at UNSW, providing managerial education and executive support to the NFP sector. It will also be a hub for research and community engagement.

The Centre is being funded with a $12.5m grant from the Australian Government, to be matched through fund-raising over time. It will be a collaborative venture designed to provide national leadership, and it is intended that other institutions will be invited to join later.

"This is an extraordinarily important initiative," Professor Hilmer said. "It will open the channels of communication between business, government and the NFP sector, and enable that sector to play a much more significant role in addressing future challenges."

UNSW Chancellor Mr David Gonski added: "Philanthropy is evolving to a new level in Australia. With an increasing flow of money into the NFP sector, there is a need for these endeavours to become more business-like and knowledge-based, to ensure that funds are put to good use."

This will be the second time Dr Shergold has held a position at UNSW. He joined the University as a lecturer in 1972 and, leaving in 1987, went on to become Australia's most eminent public servant. He has been head of the Office of Multicultural Affairs, Chief Executive of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission, Public Service Commissioner, Secretary of the Department of Employment, Workplace Relations and Small Business and Secretary of the Department of Education, Science and Training.

Earlier this year Dr Shergold received the nation's highest award, a Companion in the Order of Australia, for distinguished public service.

Dr Shergold said: "The economic and social impact of the 'third sector' is the foundation of a democratic and civil society.

"I am delighted that Australia will now develop a world class centre to support the skills, entrepreneurship and influence of NFP business. I am excited about returning to UNSW to lead this important new initiative."

Media Contact: Judy Brookman, UNSW Director of Communications, tel. 9385 3249.