Graduate Trainee profile – Aaron

Year joined


Current position:

Policy/Program Officer; Fisheries, Oceans and Resilience Section, Pacific Development Division.

Other positions in the department:

Policy/Program Officer; Disaster Prevention and Risk Reduction Section, Humanitarian and Stabilisation Division. Policy/Program Officer; Program Strategy Results Branch; Program Effectiveness and Performance Division

Where did you live and what were you doing before joining the department?

Working with UN and NGOs in Cambodia. Community Based Drug Treatment Program Officer with United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) in Phnom Penh during 2012. Management and Technical Advisor with Cambodian NGOs including the Social Environment Agricultural Development Organisation (SEADO) and Women Organisation for Modern Economy and Nursing (WOMEN) from 2008-2011. Working with the Northern Territory Government in Indigenous Affairs 2005-2008.

What qualifications do you have?

Masters of International Management from Charles Darwin University; Bachelor of Arts majoring in International Relations and Development Studies from University of New South Wales

Have you used your qualifications/experience during your time in the department?


Do you speak another language?


Why did you apply for the graduate program in the department?

To put theoretical and practical experience working in International Development with local and international organisations in to practice working within the Australian Public Service.

What was the most challenging aspect of the recruitment/selection process?

Doing the writing test in a foreign country which had sporadic internet and hoping that all the downloads would work and my responses would get through.

Do you have any tips for applicants on how to approach the selection process?

Do your research and be well prepared. Make sure you have an opinion as well as knowing what the Government position is.

Has the reality of working in the department differed from your perceptions of what it was going to be like?

Yes and No. Working for a Government department is a world of its own so you have to learn the rules and be willing to take the extra step to show colleagues that you have unique contributions to bring.

What has been the highlight of your career with the department so far?

Working in the Crisis Centre for the Australian Government response to Super Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines. It was a great insight into the hard work and long hours, and specialist skills required in emergency response and management.

As an economist/accountant/lawyer/development specialist etc, why would you recommend the department over other career options?

As a development specialist, working for the Australian Government provides opportunities to support delivery of the Australian aid program, work with professional staff and partner organisations and influence the future of delivering effective development programs more in line with Australia’s foreign policy.

How do you enjoy living in Canberra?

Canberra is great. I like it much more than expected. Having an immediate group of friends through the Graduate program helps, but there is plenty to see and do from museums and the arts, to mountain biking and bushwalking.

Have you any other insights for potential applicants?

Demonstrating professionalism is key, but it’s also good to show how you are involved in broader pursuits such as community work, sporting or cultural activities. Good luck!

Last Updated: 7 February 2014