Sacha - 2014 Graduate

I was interested in the placement because I was keen to get a better understanding of the role and processes of Parliament and the Parliament of Australia Graduate Program offered a good opportunity see first-hand, and be involved in, government deliberation, scrutiny and decision-making. 

I worked in the Department of the House of Representatives as a Research Officer in the Secretariat that supports the Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters.  Throughout the course of my placement I planned and attended public hearings and meetings held in various locations across the country, researched and analysed subjects related to the inquiry into the 2013 Federal election, drafted Committee materials including sections of the inquiry report, and generally liaised with Senators, Members and the public regarding the Committee’s work.  

For me, the most valuable aspect of the Parliament of Australia graduate program was the opportunity to be immersed in the parliamentary environment and be fully exposed to the processes and procedures that enable Government to run.  I have really enjoyed seeing the behind-the-scenes work of Committees and just generally being able to walk around the corner and watch question time, drop in to an estimates hearing, or as on one lucky occasion, see a visiting foreign dignitary address a joint sitting of Parliament.

Claire - 2014 Graduate

I completed a three month placement in the International and Community Relations Office of the Department of the House of Representatives. I spent some time assisting with community relations work, which was as varied as conducting interviews on-camera with returning delegation leaders, writing a feature article for the About the House magazine, and writing news stories for the Parliament website. The rest of my time I spent assisting with visits to the Australian Parliament by parliamentarians from overseas. This involved coordinating the delegation program and logistics, and accompanying visitors on their trip. I found it extremely valuable to gain a different perspective on how Australia builds relationships with parliaments overseas, as well as how the Parliament conducts effective community outreach within Australia. It was also an exciting time to be in the building, with lots of sitting weeks and budget week giving the building a certain buzz.

Alexander - 2013 Graduate

I was interested in the Parliament of Australia Graduate Program because I wanted to improve my knowledge and understanding of the processes and functions of Parliament.  During my placement with the Joint Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade, I worked with the Human Rights, Defence and Trade Sub-Committees on a number of inquiries, including the Inquiry into Slavery, Slavery-like Practices and People Trafficking. 

My work involved providing research and administrative support to the Committee, including the preparation of briefing materials for members of the Committee, drafting chapters for Committee reports, liaison with the Chair of the Committee and the organisation of public hearings.  I was also able to travel interstate with the Committee for public hearings. These tasks helped me to develop a strong understanding of committee processes and parliamentary procedure, as well as the relationship between the executive and legislative arms of government.  I found this was the most valuable aspect of the Graduate Program.  I also enjoyed the opportunities to explore Parliament House, interact with members of Parliament and attend private briefings provided to the Committee. I found the program to be a very engaging, challenging and helpful experience that allowed me to develop practical and valuable skills that I will use throughout my career. 

Alexandra - 2013 Graduate

I applied for the Parliamentary Graduate Program to gain a behind the scenes look at the workings of government, and for the experience of working in media and communications in a parliamentary context. I was placed in the International and Community Relations Office, and involved in the production of journalistic-style print and television products to promote the workings of parliament. The office also runs incoming and outgoing delegations of parliamentarians, and I was able to assist with a visiting group of pacific parliamentarians.

I now have a range of media products to add to my portfolio, including a feature article in the quarterly About the House Magazine and a number of television news stories for the About the House and MPI programs which air on Sky News.  It’s also been fantastic just to be based at Parliament House. Walking around the iconic building and absorbing the changing atmosphere and the political and parliamentary buzz has been excellent.

I now have a much clearer picture of parliamentary and government process which is invaluable both professionally and personally.

James - 2013 Graduate

I was interested in a placement to gain an insight into the inner workings of Parliament and policy making. I was excited by the prospect of observing meetings with Members and Senators, and thus seeing policy making ‘in action’. I was also excited to be challenged by the work itself, and to enhance my writing skills. I was also interested for the purpose of experiencing the day-to-day atmosphere of Parliament House.

I worked with the Joint Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade. I completed two chapters of the ‘Review of the Defence Annual Report’ and two chapters of the ‘Inquiry into Australia’s relationship with Timor-Leste’. This involved summarising and analysing evidence related to various issues in these inquiries. The evidence primarily included transcripts of Public Hearings as well as a range of submissions from interested parties.

There were many valuable aspects. However, observing two days of Public Hearings for the ‘Inquiry into Australia’s relationship with Timor-Leste’ was particularly valuable. I felt extremely fortunate to observe various interested parties put forward their views, often with high levels of passion. The value of this experience was heightened when I was then fortunate enough to draft parts of the related Report. This gave me a distinct sense that the work I was doing was connected with highly important and passion-inducing issues.

I gained a high degree of motivation for my career in the public service, due to being able to observe policy-making in a unique and engaging setting. By observing a variety of personalities in meetings and Public hearings, I gained valuable insights into the motivations and influences which drive policy-makers. I also gained valuable insight by working in a highly motivated, engaging and experienced team. The team engaged in fascinating discussion about our work as a Committee Secretariat, as well as discussion regarding policy-making more broadly. I am very thankful for the opportunity to participate in this program.

Frances - 2013 Graduate

When the opportunity to work at Parliament House came up at the end of my graduate year, I couldn't resist the chance to experience a different aspect of government, and work in one of Australia’s most iconic buildings. Like most graduates who take up this opportunity, I have a keen interest in politics, public policy, and the different factors that influence decision-making. I knew that a few months in Parliament would give me new insights into Parliamentary processes, the passage of legislation, and the broader community issues that Members of Parliament are interested in.

I was lucky to work in an area that was well-matched with my interests, in the secretariat for the Social Policy and Legal Affairs Committee, and the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs Committee. During my time in the secretariat, I assisted with the drafting of an inquiry, and developed a successful roundtable discussion, and attended a range of public hearings and private committee meetings. 

Through this experience, I have a much deeper knowledge of the procedural aspects of the Parliament, the Committee process and the public engagement that the Parliament has through Committees.  I have also developed my own skill set in areas specific to Parliament, and more generally. I enjoyed every moment of my three months here, whether I was working hard on a research paper, watching the drama unfold during Question Time, witnessing the great work of Committees, or getting to know my colleagues at Parliament.

Hilary - 2013 Graduate

I applied for the program because I wanted to gain a better understanding of the inner workings of parliament and its role as a model parliament in our Pacific region.  I was placed in the International and Community Relations Office (ICRO), a small office that covers a huge range of responsibility from producing a magazine and television programs, to coordinating international delegation visits both here and overseas.

During my placement at ICRO I worked alongside some talented ex-journalists who taught me to better hone my writing skills for different mediums, while I also assisted colleagues to organise an international delegation visits schedule for Parliamentarians from the Pacific Island Nations.  I also developed, wrote and designed a section of a Parliament House exhibition called ‘The Peoples’ House’ that was displayed in the public gallery for 8 weeks. Working as a graduate in House of Reps program has been a wonderful learning experience where I gained many new skills that I will draw on throughout my APS career. I’d highly recommend this program to all with an interest in Parliament and writing.

Sean - 2012 Graduate

Throughout my graduate year I found that I developed an increasing interest in the interaction between Parliament and the APS. Parliamentary processes have such a huge impact on the work of Government departments, and yet I found that there was a certain element of mystique about what actually occurs up on ‘the hill’. When the opportunity arose to learn more through the Parliament of Australia Graduate Program, I knew I had to apply.

I worked in the Committee section for the Department of the House of Representatives. I assisted the work of two separate committees through researching background material, preparing briefing papers, accompanying the MPs to interstate hearings, and generally assisting the smooth operation of Committee functions. I had a lot of interaction with Committee members throughout the rotation, all of whom were very friendly and receptive.

For me the most valuable aspect of the program was the opportunity to learn more about Parliamentary processes and procedures. My supervisor was very encouraging for me to pursue training opportunities run by the department, through which I learnt a lot about topics such as Parliamentary privilege, tabling of Parliament documents and understanding the Budget process.

The program is a great opportunity to see the inner workings of Parliament House and provides a valuable understanding of the relationship between Parliament and the APS.

Annelise - 2012 Graduate

I feel very privileged to have taken part in the Parliament of Australia Graduate Program. I was interested in undertaking the program because I wished to step outside my home department, de-mystify certain processes and learn how the work APS departments produce fits in with the broader parliamentary apparatus.  I worked in the International and Community Relations Office (ICRO), writing articles for the web, About the House magazine, and scripts for our TV shows, Matters of Public Importance (MPI) and About the House. This involved interviewing visiting delegations and commentating on the issues raised in the House of Representatives. I also worked with the international side of our office, organising a visit from a delegation of Kenyan parliamentarians wishing to learn about our committee system. The most valuable aspect of the program has been the opportunities I’ve had to learn firsthand about the role of standing orders, committee procedures and inquiries, and the budget process. I now better understand the context of such things as submissions to committee inquiries and senate estimates. As someone wishing to pursue a long term career in the APS I feel I will be comfortable interacting with these parliamentary processes when working for government in the future.

Peter - 2012 Graduate

I was interested in the Parliament of Australia Graduate Program because I wanted to gain a greater insight into parliamentary process and the general mystique of what goes on up at Capital Hill. I was placed with the Joint Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade where I undertook extensive drafting work on an Inquiry into Australia’s Representation Overseas. I found the subject matter interesting as someone who is interested in foreign policy, and I really enjoyed the opportunity to develop my report writing skills. It was also a buzz to attend Committee meetings and observe how the MPs interact away from the public spotlight, and to sit in on briefings from Ministers, human rights advocates and foreign dignitaries.

At a professional level, it has been really valuable to gain an insight in to the inquiry process, particularly regarding what is effective (and ineffective!) in departmental submissions and appearances before public hearings. At a personal level it was great to work with the friendly and experienced staff of the Committee Secretariat – the small team was a nice change from the less personal functioning of a larger department. I have also enjoyed getting to know grads from other departments.

Siobhan - 2012 Graduate

As an individual who was probably a little bit more interested in watching parliament than is really healthy it seemed like the obvious thing to do. It was also a continuation of a love affair I began with committee systems when previously working in other jurisdictions both within Australia and overseas. The opportunity to get a really in depth look at a little known pillar of Australia’s parliamentary system was hard to pass up – even if it meant returning to Canberra from my home in Melbourne over Winter.

I worked in the Secretariat for the House of Representatives Economics Committee and the Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters. I was given the opportunity to work in depth on several inquiries. This included conducting research and drafting briefing papers and contributing to the reports which are tabled in Parliament. I assisted at a number of public hearings which really give you an opportunity to understand how the whole process works from start to finish and gives you a really valuable insight into one of the few processes that connects the public and stakeholders directly to the Parliament.

It was really exciting to see how the members interact behind closed doors and the myriad relationships that exist across the floor. Sometimes things can be very friendly and collegial and at other times as heated and as political as you might expect. I gained a better understanding of how much the parliament and its committees rely on rules and procedure to function. I was also encouraged to attend things that were particularly relevant to the work of the wider public service such as Senate Estimates and Question Time. Being here during the Budget was also really valuable – not only was it a great to be around the buzz and energy in parliament surrounding budget night, but parliamentary library also put on some great information sessions that make interpreting those big blue and yellow books a little less scary.

I thoroughly enjoyed being part of the grad program. For anyone interested in politics and policy it is simply a great energy to be working in. I was a little bit apprehensive before I started as a humanities student being placed in the economics committee and when I arrived I was certainly thrown straight in the deep end in lots of ways. The good news was that I found that I could swim – even in a sea of tax law. It gave me a new appreciation for my generalist background – it turns out that all those people that said that research and analytical abilities are valuable transferable skills weren’t lying after all.

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Need more information?

For further information about the Graduate program please contact:

Tracy Weston
Assistant Director, People Strategies
Department of the House of Representatives
Telephone:  (02) 6277 4146
Email: tracy.weston.reps@aph.gov.au

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