Ms Clarke has previously served overseas as Defence Adviser, Australian High Commission, New Zealand. In Australia she served as Head, Sexual Misconduct Prevention and Response Office, Australian Defence Force, as well as in a number of senior roles in the Royal Australian Navy.
She will replace the outgoing Julie-Ann Guivarra - Australia’s first Indigenous woman to become an Australian Ambassador.
In a statement Ms Clarke - who described herself as a “passionate advocate for gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls” said she was “immensely grateful” for the opportunity.
“I have no doubt this role will present many opportunities and challenges. I will apply my personal framework in assessing these challenges and opportunities namely ‘Hold Space, Make Space, Take Space’. We need to ensure that gains are not lost; that we are making space for women to step into leadership roles; and that women are ready, willing and able to take their place where decisions are made.”
Ms Clarke said changing attitudes, influencing policy, influencing behaviours and communicating across cultures and nations requires a “special combination of skills”.
“I consider myself fortunate that 30+ years in the Royal Australian Navy with the last three years as a Defence Adviser and Attaché to NZ, Cook Islands and Chile, has presented me with all the learning experiences needed to influence these positive new outcomes.
“This was a career in which I was privileged to work with and lead the amazing women and men of the ADF and the Defence organisation with strength founded in humanity and compassion.
“ I am grateful for the many experts who have graciously shared their knowledge in this important field and I will continue to learn from my expanding network of colleagues in the pursuit of enhancing gender equality and empowerment of women and girls by keeping this as a central focus in Australia’s diplomatic, development, and regional security efforts.”
Announcing the appointment, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Minister for Women, Senator Marise Payne, said promoting the rights of women and girls is a priority for Australia.
“In the shadow of the impact of the pandemic, active and sustained leadership on gender equality is more important than ever,” she said.
“The Ambassador for Women and Girls raises the importance of addressing sexual and gender-based violence, increasing economic opportunities for women, promoting women’s leadership, the critical importance of promoting positive social norms and the rights of girls."
Ms Clarke holds a Master of Human Resource Management (Organisational Change) from Charles Sturt University; and a Bachelor of Business (Marketing) from the New South Wales Institute of Technology.