More than a job: Indigenous Australian Public Service careers

Last updated: 20 Nov 2011

This page is: archived

What is the Australian Public Service (APS)?

The APS is made up of over 100 agencies that are responsible for delivering a wide range of services to the Australian community. The APS is at the forefront of shaping the future for Australia and you can be part of it. The work is diverse and careers include more than just working in policy and programs, or being in an office.

Behind almost every part of life in Australia is an APS job.

How can you join the APS?

You don’t always need specific work experience or formal qualifications to be in the running for a public service job.

Opportunities are awaiting those job searching, returning to the workforce, looking for a career change, graduating from university or TAFE, still studying and school leavers.

Christine Hoy

Christine Hoy

Job title Learning and Development Co-ordinator –South West Region
Department Australian Quarantine & Inspection Service
Location Perth, WA

How long have you been working in the APS?

Since 9 January 1986.

What aspects of working in the APS appealed to you?

Initially it was about Job Security – I had two small children and was looking for long term security. However each of the agencies I worked for provided opportunity to work variety and greater ability to contribute across a range of areas. Secondly it was an opportunity to progress my career.

What do you like the most about your current job?

I am fortunate to work for an organisation I believe in. My background is in animal health and the work the Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service does is important for Australia’s biosecurity.

In my current Learning and Development role, I love interacting with staff, sharing my experiences and telling stories. I thrive on assisting others. I recognise the potential in people and encourage them to the best of their ability.

What benefits can Indigenous staff gain from the APS as a workplace?

The APS offers an environment that recognises an individual’s abilities. People can develop skills and confidence in an environment that is supportive and committed to the advancement of Indigenous people. Most agencies have support mechanisms for further education.

What are some positive aspects of working in the APS?

  • Job security
  • Great work conditions
  • Provides choice - to develop in your chosen area of expertise
  • Ability to transfer between agencies as opportunities arise without compromising conditions
  • The APS provides a supportive and conducive learning environment

What key things/skills have you learnt?

That people need to seize every opportunity and share their experience; Everyone has something to offer, everyone has potential to learn and to share, Indigenous people not only need to dream they need to make it a reality.

What are the highlights or interesting stories from your APS career?

I was fortunate to be part of the changes that the Equal Employment Opportunity brought about in the late 1980’s, in particular the Commonwealth Employment and Education Polices; and of course the implementation of the Disability Act in 1992 and the Age Discrimination Act 2004.

I also attended the first 2 National Indigenous APS Employee Conferences: a key to providing Indigenous people the opportunity to network, to find support amongst their peers and to know they are not alone.

Would you encourage other Indigenous Australians to apply for jobs in the APS? Why?

Definitely,apart from all the broader implications in the wider community, I want to share the experience. I want people to know that they can have something positive too, that they can contribute to their own well being, development and security.

Kassmena Birch

Kassmena Birch

Job title: Social Marketing Officer
Agency: Department of Health and Ageing
Location: Canberra, ACT

How long have you been working in the APS?

5 years.

What aspects of working in the APS appeal to you?

We are required to have a career plan in place as employees of the public service, to assist with career progression and to track our learning. This is very appealing as it is a tool that highlights personal skill development and capabilities to take on further challenges and prepare for future career opportunities.

What do you like the most about your current job?

Having the opportunity to be involved in a national campaign, to shift the behaviour of Australians towards ceasing tobacco smoking and to play a part in ensuring Australia remains a world leader in tobacco control.

What are some positive aspects of working in the APS?

The APS provides a flexible work life balance environment that allows you to build a career by learning and developing skills on the job and to continue studying if you choose.

What are the highlights or interesting stories from your APS career?

There are jobs in the APS that enable you to still work closely with communities and high profile Indigenous people. I have had the chance to work on Community Festivals with Vibe Australia, watch Julia Gillard present awards to elite teachers from across Australia and attend football carnivals to promote better health.

Would you encourage other Indigenous Australians to apply for jobs in the APS? Why?

There are many opportunities for staff to build diverse skills, gain great experiences and meet influential people that encourage you to take lead and achieve your goals. There is a place for Indigenous people in the APS to teach others about Indigenous culture and find innovative approaches to effectively deliver tailored programs.

Leonard Hill

Leonard Hill

Agency FaHCSIA
Job title Deputy ICC Manager
Location Western Region ICC, Dubbo, NSW

How long have you been working in the APS?

Just over 7 years.

What aspects of working in the APS appealed to you?

I always felt a desire to work in the public sector, especially in Indigenous Affairs. I had spent just over 7 years working in Aboriginal Education and Training for the NSW Government when in Sydney and having known the disadvantages experienced by Aboriginal people first hand; I believed I’d be able to directly help in addressing these by working in the public affairs space.

What do you like the most about your current job?

The ability to work with Aboriginal people and communities to understand their needs, to understand what’s working, what’s not working, and then together work in partnership in addressing these issues through a common approach from a “ground up view”. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t, but when we do get the result that we are all looking for it’s a pretty satisfying feeling.

What benefits can Indigenous staff gain from the APS as a workplace?

Working with others who have similar interests; a range of learning and development opportunities in structured and no-structured environments which enable greater career progression within the APS; support for Indigenous staff in formal and non-formal levels

What are some positive aspects of working in the APS?

A structured working environment; the ability to work across a multitude of different interest areas; a greater understanding of the political context in which major policy reforms are implemented; and the obvious goodies, good pay, a relatively good level of job security, opportunities for advancement and transferring across agencies and across the country, skills development and a multitude of learning & development opportunities.

Would you encourage other Indigenous Australians to apply for jobs in the APS? Why?

Yes, most definitely. The work we do is varied, interesting, and for me, satisfying in that we are working directly with Aboriginal people and communities.

The APS is obviously made up of a large number of agencies working across the full gamut of government program and service delivery and the opportunities to work in a range of different environments is possible.

Aaron Hoffman

Aaron Hoffman

Agency Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs
Job title Deputy Manager, Brisbane Roma Indigenous Coordination Centre
Location Brisbane

How long have you been working in the APS?

I have been in the APS for over thirteen years. I joined the APS through the Indigenous Cadetship Program with the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies on 2 March 1998.

What aspects of working in the APS appealed to you?

My parents were great role models and showed me by working in the APS I could have a satisfying and rewarding job where I could help contribute to improving the standard of living for our people.

What do you like the most about your current job?

My current role as Deputy Manager, Brisbane Roma Indigenous Coordination Centre requires me to work closely with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples, Service Providers, State and Local Governments to support initiatives that help Close the Gap on Indigenous Disadvantage.

What benefits can Indigenous staff gain from the APS as a workplace?

The APS provides a career pathway including training and development and opportunities to move between APS agencies. Through the Indigenous Cadetship Program with AIATSIS I attained a Bachelor of Communication degree.

What are some positive aspects of working in the APS?

There are opportunities in the APS for Indigenous Australians to work in a policy or program area to help Close the Gap on Indigenous Disadvantage. I have worked with some good operators who have willingly shared their knowledge and experience and guided me on my career pathway.

What are the highlights or interesting stories from your APS career?

One of my highlights is working in partnership with the Queensland Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Human Services Coalition on an innovative campaign to promote greater service access for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in South East Queensland. The Brisbane Roma Indigenous Coordination Centre was a finalist in the 2011 Institute of Public Administration Australia Queensland Public Sector Excellence Awards in the Federal Government category.

Would you encourage other Indigenous Australians to apply for jobs in the APS? Why?

Yes - the APS offers the opportunity to influence policy and deliver services that will help to improve the lives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.