An Arrernte and Gurdanji woman, Patricia Turner has 40 years experience working primarily in Aboriginal affairs at the local, regional and national levels. She has had a long and varied career in the Australian Public Service, with senior roles including CEO of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission, and Deputy Secretary of the Commonwealth Departments of Aboriginal Affairs and Prime Minister and Cabinet – with oversight of the establishment of the Council for Aboriginal Reconciliation and with responsibility for the Office of the Status of Women among other matters.
Turner was also the Deputy Chief Executive Officer of Centrelink, and the Head of the Regulatory Reform Taskforce reviewing the administrative arrangements for public health and safety regulation at the federal level with the then Department of Health and Aged Care. For eighteen months in 1998–99, she held the Monash Chair of Australia Studies, Georgetown University, USA.
Turner holds a Masters Degree in Public Administration from the University of Canberra, where she was awarded the University prize for Development Studies.