Working in the Senate Development Program

Working in the Senate Development Program

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The Working in the Senate Development Program will not be running in 2013. Please continue to check the website to confirm arrangements for 2014.

General Information about the Parliamentary Service

The Parliament is supported by three parliamentary departments. The President of the Senate is responsible for the Department of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives for the Department of the House of Representatives. Together they have joint responsibility for the Department of Parliamentary Services.

General Information about the Department of the Senate

The Department of the Senate provides the Senate, its committees, the President of the Senate and senators with a broad range of advisory and support services related to the exercise of the legislative power of the Commonwealth. In supporting the operations of the Senate and its committees, the Department of the Senate provides services in four main categories: Senate support, committee support, senators' services and public education and awareness. The Department of the Senate is responsible, not to the government of the day, but to the Senate and all senators, and maintains impartiality in serving all senators equally..

The Department of the Senate has approximately 160 employees all of whom are based at Parliament House, Canberra. The department operates under the Parliamentary Service Act 1999.

The Working in the Senate (WISE) Development Program

The Department of the Senate is offering the opportunity for up to three Australian Public Service (APS), Executive Level 1 (or exceptional APS level 6) employees the chance to experience parliamentary and political activity first hand without being political.

The WISE Development Program (the program) commenced in 2002 and, to date, 28 APS employees from a variety of departments and agencies have participated in the program. Past participants have found that the program has equipped them for development in more challenging and senior roles upon return to their home departments or agencies.

Successful applicants will be attached to the secretariat of one or more Senate committees, participate in departmental professional development programs and receive exposure to other areas of Senate and parliamentary operations. Program participants will have a senior Senate officer provide them with guidance and support during their time on the program.

The skills and knowledge participants may obtain through the program will assist in building the foundation for career progression and professional development. The Department of the Senate is looking for outstanding applicants from a range of disciplines who are highly motivated with excellent writing skills, sound research and analytical skills, outstanding communication skills and good people skills.

Placements offer successful applicants a valuable opportunity in a high-profile environment with excellent professional development opportunities. The Department of the Senate has a strong commitment to the development of their people and will offer program participants access to parliamentary specific training during their placement.

Working with Senate committees

Committee secretariats are closely involved in assisting committee members analyse and evaluate the multifaceted evidence coming from government, community and professional sources who seek to influence committees’ understanding of key issues of importance. Attachment to the secretariat of a Senate committee, including a Senate estimates committee, will enable participants in the program to observe both the parliamentary and the political process at close quarters.

Committee employees are key researchers and writers of committee material. In their writing they must reflect the evidence gathered and the committees’ reactions to it, marshalling its strongest features into precise and accurate analysis, evaluation, option setting and ultimately policy recommendations.

Other opportunities

Participants in the program will observe or work in other areas of the Department of the Senate, for short periods of time, which offer insights to reinforce the attachment and development program.  These will include procedural, programming and legislative scrutiny areas, and public information and education operations.

Training opportunities also exist to build program participants' understanding of the House of Representatives' processes and procedures.


Applicants must be working for an Australian Public Service department or agency.  The endorsement of the home department or agency must be gained as part of the application process.  Applications without this endorsement may not be further assessed.

Applicants must be supported by their home departments or agencies as they will undertake to release successful applicants for the duration of the program (January - December) and pay their salary.

Applicants are generally assessed on the basis of their application (including referee reports), experience and academic achievements.

Applicants from a wide range of disciplines or backgrounds are encouraged to apply.  Disciplines may include, but are not limited to: economics, law, science, arts, industrial relations, environmental studies, accounting, statistics, commerce, social and public policy or politics.

Further Information

For further information please contact:

Hermione Finemore
Assistant Director, Human Resource Management
Department of the Senate
Telephone:  (02) 6277 3475

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