Episode 45 // Catherine Walker: The Humanitarian at Home

June 9, 2023

“You always have choices as you build a career and I have certainly agonised…”

Catherine speaking to Judy via Zoom, March 2023



Catherine Walker worked with Australia’s official aid program for twenty-two years and held senior development roles overseas, including in Timor Leste as the Chief of Donor Coordination with the United Nations and in Solomon Islands as the Development Coordinator with the Regional Assistance Mission (RAMSI). 

As AusAID’s Deputy Director General of Global Programs, she served on the Executive of the Agency and led the large scale expansion of Australia’s aid program activities in Africa, the Middle East, Afghanistan and Pakistan as well as managing the Government’s humanitarian, emergencies and refugee program.  She was also responsible for the aid program’s relations with the International Financial institutions, the United Nations development and humanitarian agencies and national and international NGOs. 

Before retiring from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade in May 2014, she led the aid program’s policy and program work in fragile and conflict affected states and humanitarian and emergency response, including disaster risk reduction and preparedness programs.  She worked closely with whole-of-government partners in the planning and management of complex crisis responses, especially in civil-military cooperation. 

She was appointed in 2011 by the UN Secretary-General to the United Nations Advisory Group on the Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) and served as its chair from 2012 – 2014.  The CERF is a key instrument in making humanitarian responses more effective.   

Catherine Walker received the Public Service Medal in 2011 for her work in development and humanitarian assistance. 

She has been a member of the Board of UN Women Australia and the Diplomatic Advisory Board. She is currently Deputy Chair of the National Trust Tasmania.