Former Chief of Navy and Vice Chief of the Defence Force Ray Griggs AO, CSC has been named CEO of the newly launched National Indigenous Australians Agency (NIAA).

On July 1, the agency was launched as an executive agency under the prime Minister’s portfolio with Mr Griggs at the helm.

Previously, the NIAA was the Indigenous Affairs group under the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet.

Minister for Indigenous Australians Ken Wyatt said this was a chance for the Government to have a marked change in the way they engage and do business with Indigenous Australians at all levels.

“Establishing this agency solely dedicated to the advancement of Australia’s First Nations is a significant opportunity for the Government to work with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people on the ground,” Minister Wyatt said.

Minister Wyatt said the NIAA will support him in meeting the “changing needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, their leaders and communities.”

“All of us must work together with State and Territory Governments to bring about change and close the gap in Indigenous communities.”

A statement from Minister Wyatt’s office said Mr Griggs’ “entire career has been in service to Australia and its peoples.”

Minister Wyatt said the NIAA is “privileged” to have an experienced leader heading the agency.

Mr Griggs said the Indigenous Affairs Group evolving into its own agency was a natural development.

“This change provides the opportunity to enhance the way we work across Government and ensure we have better coordination across the Commonwealth on matters that affect Indigenous Australians,” Mr Griggs said.

Mr Griggs’ 40-year career began in the Royal Australian Navy, with his last seven years seeing him take on the roles of Chief of Navy and then Vice Chief of the Defence Force until his retirement in July 2018.

Mr Griggs’ portfolio as Vice Chief of the Defence Force included Indigenous employment and outreach, however, his experience with the Indigenous community outside of this remains unclear.

Only two months after his retirement was Mr Griggs asked to join the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet to head up the Indigenous Affairs Group in October 2018.

The inaugural CEO will now lead a team of about 1,200 staff at the NIAA.