Gradhack 2017 – 450 grads – 35 teams – 5 challenges – 3 winning pitches

Last updated: 21 Jun 2017

This page is: current

On the blustery cold Canberra morning of Wednesday 7 June, 450 APS Graduates poured into Coorong Pavilion at Exhibition Park chomping at the bit to wrap their hands around a steaming hot coffee and to take part in the second APSC Graduate event, GradHack.

GradHack is an interactive, collaborative and highly charged Hackathon that sees graduates given three hours to hack out real challenges that APS Departments are faced with. It's a fantastic opportunity for Departments to use the bright and willing minds of APS graduates to possibly implement real departmental and government policies.

As ACDCs Thunderstruck blared through the speakers grads curiously gathered around the stage as the event facilitator, Ms Emma Perkins, Media and Engagement Director, Australian Public Service Commission opened the event and gave grads their first task of steering away of their agency peers and divide themselves into teams of unfamiliar faces. Truly giving grads the ultimate networking opportunity.

Following the choreographed chaotic buzz of the 3 hour hack; the venue was opened to APS colleagues and peers as all teams pitched their solution to invited voters. After 10 minutes of 'ohs and aahhhs' during voting time as the crowd watched the live polls displayed update on big screens, the three winning teams where confirmed.

Taking full advantage of the provided catering and stationery to jazz up their pop-up stall; the challenge team with the highest amount of votes responded to the Department of Defence challenge about how to make the APS an employer of choice. The grads used examples of bringing perks from the private sector from tailored nutritional lunches for a small salary sacrifice to an APS exchange, that gives new employees opportunities to have short term exchanges with private sector, government, or research institutions.

The second placed team responded to the Department of the Communications and the Arts challenge, to find a policy solution to getting Australians to access content legally through the internet. Their idea was to develop a government VPN 'Jetstream' as a posed to a private VPN, seeing payments go to the government. Users can choose a level of service, for example Economy class will have one service provider, say Netflix, then stepping up to Business class you can choose from several providers, Netflix and Foxtel; then of course First class which includes all of the service providers. The aim of this, is to foster competition between the providers and for them to provide as much as they can as fast as they can.

The third team provided a great response to the Department of the Treasury's challenge about the role of government in the sharing economy. This team developed their own app interface 'Hive'. They proposed a service delivery app, giving you the information on what you want to hear about from local state and federal government; making government services more accessibly.

Photo: the graduates 

Photo: presentations

Photo: Brains trust

A special thank you to the 'Brains trust' (Challenge department representative), Hamish McDonald, First Assistant Secretary, Department of the Treasury; Belinda Day, Senior Advisor, Capability and performance, Department of Communications and the Arts; Alana Walsh, Director APS Reform, Australian Public Service Commission; Toni Smith, Senior Programme Office, Workforce Capability, National Insurance Disability Program; and Alisa Smith, Assistant Director Entry Level Engagement, Department of Defence, for taking time out of their busy schedules to help out the grads with their questions and getting involved in all aspects on the day.

As the Commissioner, The Hon. John Lloyd said in his closing comments, this is something the Prime Minister would be proud of – young public servants collaborating across agencies to come up with great solutions to important issues.