Susan Ryan was appointed as Australia’s first Age Discrimination Commissioner on 30 July 2011 for a five year term. In 2014, she was appointed Disability Discrimination Commissioner — in addition to her responsibilities as Age Discrimination Commissioner. She commenced her new appointment on 12 July 2014.
Up until her appointment as Commissioner, Susan was the Independent Chair of the IAG and NRMA Superannuation Plan; pro chancellor and Council member at UNSW from 1999 to 2011; chaired the Australian Human Rights Group since 2008, and was Women’s Ambassador for ActionAid Australia.
She was CEO of ASFA, the Association of Superannuation Funds of Australia from 1993–1998. She continued her involvement in superannuation as President of AIST, the Australian Institute of Superannuation Trustees from 2000 to 2007. She was a founding member of ACSI and of the ASX Corporate Governance Council.
From 1975 to 1988, Susan was Senator for the ACT, becoming the first woman to hold a Cabinet post in a federal Labor Government. She served in senior portfolios in the Hawke Government as Minister for Education and Youth Affairs, Minister Assisting the Prime Minister on the Status of Women and Special Minister of State.
As Education Minister, Susan saw school retention rates double and universities and TAFEs grow significantly. She pioneered extensive anti-discrimination and equal opportunity legislation, including the landmark Sex Discrimination Act 1984 and the Affirmative Action Act 1986.
She was awarded an AO for services to the Australian parliament in 1990.