Over the past five decades, the nature and role of the Australian HR function has changed dramatically, mirroring developments in the United States and in Britain.The most significant change for the HR profession has been the shift from a reactive to a strategic focus. While the strategic importance of HR has increasingly been recognised, challenges remain. Within the discussion of the strategic trajectory of the HR function we analyse changes to the HR role over the last five decades. We also provide an update on perceptions of the HR function using comments from interviews with both senior HR practitioners and top management team executives about how the HR function currently gains influence to perform its strategic role within Australian organisations. We conclude with a discussion of directions for the Australian HR professional.