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.
Lucas – 2011 Graduate
I was attracted to the parliament’s grad program for a number of reasons – some more serious than others. I liked the idea of learning more about our parliamentary system (yes, there are aspects of it that even politics nuts aren’t aware of), learning new skills, getting outside my Department to see how other parts of government work, and finally – I simply wanted to work at Parliament House!
And the program didn’t disappoint.
I worked in the International and Community Relations Office of the House of Representatives. I worked on the House’s media team, writing articles for the About the House magazine and doing interviews and writing and producing stories for the About the House and MPI television shows (on SkyNews and A-PAC). I also did some work organising the visit of a parliamentary delegation and assisting with other projects organised by the office. The work was diverse and I felt like I was a valued member of the team.
I gained a lot of knowledge about the internal workings of parliament, ranging from technical aspects of House procedure to detailed committee inquiries and current legislation. I now have a greater appreciation for the many roles parliament and parliamentarians play aside from merely passing laws. I enjoyed the opportunities to talk to MPs and parliamentary leaders and get an insight into politics underneath the commonly observed ‘party v party’ veneer.
I developed many new skills throughout the course of the program. I had the opportunity to interview prominent politicians from Australia and overseas, as well as members of the community, about issues being dealt with by the House or its committees. I learned how to write in a journalistic rather than an academic or public service style, and even aspects of TV production.
The program offers a rare chance to witness the inside of one of Australia’s key institutions and is therefore both professionally and personally rewarding.
Theresa – 2011 Graduate
As I have a keen interest in the functioning of parliamentary democracies around the world and specifically the Australian democratic process, when I saw the opportunity to participate in the Parliament of Australia Graduate Program I knew I wanted to apply. I was placed with the secretariat supporting the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Health and Ageing.
During my placement, as well as completing committee work with the Health and Ageing Committee, my colleagues encouraged me to learn about the work of the Parliament in general. I was encouraged to attend question time and participate in a variety of training sessions, professional seminars and debrief sessions. This enabled me to not only learn about Parliamentary and committee processes but also taught me to work with the necessary discretion and professionalism that comes with working in a parliamentary environment.
I particularly enjoyed working on a bill inquiry that involved conducting an inquiry into a piece of legislation that was before the Parliament. I was required to research the background of the legislation, review submissions received by the secretariat, help prepare a public hearing, write media releases and a tabling statement and assist with drafting the report. It was exciting to see my work tabled in Parliament.
I also worked on an inquiry into the Registration Processes and Support for Overseas Trained Doctors. I was lucky enough to travel to other capital cities to conduct public hearings to help the Committee gather evidence for the Inquiry.
I really enjoyed turning up for work every day in Parliament House. The building is filled with beautiful artwork and it was an exciting environment in which to work.
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