Policy stream – Grace
Graduate program participant
Criminal Law Policy Branch
A year in review... I'm from Melbourne, and studied my Bachelor of Arts (Politics and French) and Masters of International Relations at Monash University. During my studies I worked in retail and spent time volunteering at a women's rights advocacy organisation, and then worked at an executive search and consulting firm for 18 months before starting as a Graduate in the Attorney-General's Department.
As a graduate you get the opportunity to attend interesting training, off-site seminars, meetings with senior officials from all over the world and sometimes even head up the hill to Parliament House. In my first rotation, I got to experience a Bill I assisted with being introduced in the House of Representatives. Some rotations are busier than others and some days you work longer hours if necessary, but it is honestly worth it for such valuable learning opportunities.
In my first rotation, I worked in the Serious and Organised Crime section, Criminal Law Policy Branch. I worked on drafting instructions for legislative amendments, assisting with drafting the explanatory memoranda for several bills including renewing regulations. I did a cross-legislative analysis of a particular issue for my Director to consider. I drafted correspondence to the public and to a range of stakeholders. Day to day in this rotation was sometimes really busy with impending deadlines on a brief, and at times not as busy and spent reading and researching. It was an excellent way to learn about the legislative process.
My second rotation was in International Engagement section, Countering Violent Extremism Centre. The rotation was super busy and relatively high profile area of the department. Due to its profile, we contributed to a large amount of briefing for the Executives and Ministers, and were working in a very responsive environment. This rotation involved policy work, developing submissions for the Minister, engaging with state and territory counterparts, analysing cables and reports, research, and strategy around delegation visits to and from Australia to develop capacity in the subject area.
My third rotation was in Aid Policy in International Legal Assistance. The rotation involved the management of a program in the Indo-Pacific Region, contributing to reporting and ongoing monitoring and evaluation, and developing AGD's chapter for Australia's Voluntary National Review on the Sustainable Development Goals. Program management is quite different to policy work but both can be highly strategic and involve a lot of stakeholder engagement – liaising with other departments, non-government organisations as well as internal colleagues.
Being a graduate is also a really useful position when you are unfamiliar with a particular task or have a question because you have an automatic network across the department. We support each other at work and beyond – we have netball, soccer and touch footy teams; we've done weekend trips away together and there is always someone to get brunch with. If you are moving from interstate and are unfamiliar with Canberra, this is the great benefit of being a graduate: a group of new friends to keep you company.
The graduate experience was not without its challenges – moving to a new city where I knew no one was hard at times. But when I look at how far I've come, the knowledge and skills I've gained, and the friends I've made, I know how valuable this experience has been for both my personal and professional development.