Government and Public Service Graduate Jobs and Programs
A public servant works within the administrative branches of the Australian Federal and State Government. Another term for it is “civil service”. Public servants may work clerical, administrative, technical or professional jobs in a large variety of specialisations.
What do you need to know to get a job in the public service?
The public service recruits from all disciplines, including accounting, engineering, information technology, science and economics. A relevant bachelor’s degree, a hardworking and trustworthy attitude and good oral and written communication skills should be enough to qualify you for position in one of the following government departments:
The Department of Agriculture provides policies, programs, research and incentives to Australia’s agriculture, forestry and fisheries. Employees may be involved in policy development and program implementation, scientific and economic research and service delivery. ICT graduates are in particularly high demand.
The Attorney-General’s Department is responsible for law and justice, national security, cultural affairs, record management and disaster relief. Graduates of all disciplines are encouraged to apply for a position.
The Department of Communications’ main focus areas include transformation of the nation’s telecommunications structure, realisation of the digital economy, enhancing the broadcasting sector (including managing the switch from analog to digital television) and enabling the consumer experience. Graduates are required to help the Department in many areas, including the National Broadband Network, cyber-safety and security, digital innovation and consumer issues.
The Australian Defence Force deals with all matters relating to the defence of the nation and contains the army, navy and air force. As well as military and combat jobs, the Defence Force offers a wide range of graduate jobs in a variety of disciplines, such as engineering, business administration, healthcare, logistics and information and communications technology (ICT).
The Department of Education (Deewr) is responsible for the policies and programs providing access to quality and affordable education across all ranges: childcare; primary, secondary and tertiary schooling; academic research and international education.
The Department of Employment creates and implements policies and programs designed to enable Australian job-seekers find employment and have a safe, fair and productive working experience.
The Department of Environment is concerned with the welfare, preservation and sustainability of Australia’s land, biodiversity, water, air and ecologies. It is responsible for government actions on climate change and pollution, it is responsible for national parks and wildlife, and it plans for sustainable regional development and population growth.
The Department of Finance is the centre of the government’s decision-making, providing advice and recommendations for the government’s management of public funds and getting involved in the budget, fiscal policy, practice regulation and risk management. Graduates wishing to work in the Department of Finance need to be prepared to relocate to Canberra.
- Foreign Affairs and Trade
The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade manages Australia’s overseas interests and diplomatic relationships. The Department offers two graduate programs – the Policy Program (available to graduates of all academic backgrounds) and the Corporate Program (open to graduates with commerce, HR or ICT qualifications). Policy graduates represent and advance the interests of the nation in areas such as security, human rights, international trade and aid and development. Corporate graduates help manage the Department’s financial and human resources, programs and assets, and while overseas, provide Australians with consular and passport assistance. Graduates working for the Department of Foreign Affairs are expected to work for around three years in Canberra, before becoming eligible for overseas posting.
The Department of Health aims to provide Australians with a world-class health system, and to promote healthier living and ageing among the population.
- Immigration and Border Protection
The Department of Immigration and Border Protection is responsible for managing migration, citizenship and humanitarian programs and policies, such as border-management, settlement and visas. Two graduate programs are offered - Generalist and ICT. Generalist graduates are involved in diverse work relating to issues such as multicultural affairs, temporary and permanent migration initiatives, refugee and humanitarian work. ICT graduates are involved in the technology and communications management of the department itself, with roles like systems analysis, database administration, information security and ICT architecture.
The Department of Industry aims to develop the nation’s economy through researching and implementing programs and policies aimed at increasing productivity, growth and competitiveness. Graduates are welcome from all disciplines, especially Commerce, Law, Public Policy, Science and ICT. Candidates seeking work in the Department of Industry must be prepared to relocate to Canberra.
- Infrastructure and Regional Development
The Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development is responsible for Australia’s transport, infrastructure, roads and the administration of local governments and regional development. Successful graduate applicants are expected to relocate to Canberra.
- Prime Minister and Cabinet
The Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet provides policy advice to the Prime Minister and Cabinet on matters of administration, domestic and international affairs, and Commonwealth- state relations in order to help them make sustainable and wise decisions for the optimal future benefit of Australia. Graduates are rotated through areas of decision making such as economic reform, international relations, environment and social policy. Graduate employees in this department must work in Canberra.
- Social Services
The Department of Social Services works towards a fairer and more equitable Australia. They provide programs and services to vulnerable or disadvantaged people, such children, women, Indigenous Australians, seniors and disabled people. The Department offers four graduate streams – finance, data and analysis, ICT and generalist. All positions are located in Canberra.
The Treasury anticipates and analyses the impact of government policies on stakeholders and the wider Australian economy, and it is expected to respond to changes in the global economy. It is engaged in macroeconomic and microeconomic reform, tax policy, climate change initiatives and international agreements. It delivers programs designed to support the market, and is responsible for Commonwealth payments to State and Territory governments.
Public Service Experience
Experience in the public service is an advantage to securing a graduate position with the Australian Government. All government departments as well as publicly owned organisations (like the Australian Broadcasting Corporation or the ABC) offer a range of internships, cadetships and vacation opportunities.
Trends and Graduate Work Prospects in the Public Service
The public service is huge, employing 18% of the Australian work population, and providing over 178 000 jobs. It is relatively stable employment market, expected to grow in the future due to the retirement of many public servants in the next few years. However, government policies affect the demand for employment. New governments’ election promises often include cutting tens of thousands of jobs in the public service, at federal and state level, in order to reduce government size and public spending. These policies reduce the employment market and put pressure on the government to secure their vacation and internship workers as permanent graduate employees, meaning that the number of opportunities for graduates without public service experience will be reduced. That said, fluent communicators and highly qualified graduates will always be in demand, regardless of current government employment policy.
Most jobs in the Federal Government are located in Canberra, requiring successful applicants to move. However, state and territory governments also offer graduate positions.
Diversity in the Public Service
The Australian government is committed to equality and diversity in the workplace, and to that end all departments have instituted Indigenous Employment and Diversity Programs and make especial effort to recruitment and in the work environment to eliminate discrimination (direct or indirect) against employees on the basis of gender, race, ethnicity or disability. This is in accordance with the Public Service Act 1999.
Graduate Government Salaries
Employees in the public service enjoy a high rate of pay, with graduates receiving around $65k base pay for the first year, with their salary increasing every year with experience.
Public service provides graduates with an attractive package of benefits, including workplace flexibility, recreational activities, social events (like skiing trips) and charity initiatives. Since some work requires moving to a city like Canberra, the relevant departments offer relocation assistance.