2011 FaHCSIA Graduate: Ann Meehan

Ann MeehanQualifications: Bachelor of Social Science, majoring in Human Services and Community Welfare, 2008

University: University of Newcastle

Stream: Generalist

Why did you apply for the FaHCSIA graduate program?
When I was researching graduate jobs in my final semester, my lecturer stressed that social science degrees were highly valued in many public services agencies. I began to research a range of social policy based departments and FaHCSIA was the pick of the bunch. The portfolio is so diverse—I’m very interested in Indigenous affairs, families, housing and women’s advocacy, and these are key responsibilities of the Department. I was offered a position at another agency as well but chose FaHCSIA because the communication from them was far superior.

What were your rotations like?
My first rotation offered me such a variety of work! One month I would be tasked with engaging stakeholders to undertake a review of the Grants Management System (GMS), and the next month I’d be travelling to Cairns, Darwin and Thursday Island to deliver training to FaHCSIA and other agency staff. The section provided me with a strong foundation of knowledge which I have been able to build on enormously.

What were/are your key responsibilities?
Key responsibilities I had in my day to day duties were:

  • Training with GMS and assisting the GMS Helpdesk.
  • Conducting interviews with program managers, state managers and ICC managers to gather feedback to better understand network requirements.
  • Undertaking focus groups and designing PowerPoint presentations to present to external agency stakeholders.
  • Designing a project which involved survey work, interviews and focus groups, collating and analysing information and writing a report.

What opportunities were made available to you?
Many opportunities were made available to me as a graduate. I was able to develop my skills and knowledge through the graduate program training. My section manager also ensured that I was given opportunities to build relationships across the network so that I had a good overview of the Department and could make an informed decision about where I wanted to go next.

I have also had the opportunity to continue my studies and complete a Certificate IV in Training Assessment.

What were your professional and personal highlights during the FaHCSIA Graduate program and how did you find the transition to Canberra?
Professionally, there have been many highlights so far, but one I will remember for a long time was the tour of Parliament House during orientation week. I learnt so much in relation to my role as a public servant, as well as about the history of our country, and I would strongly recommend it to future graduates.

Another highlight while I was working in the Torres Strait Islands was the birthday of one of the cultural centres.. As a result I got to see this amazing cultural centre which had brought all the islands together, including incredible artefacts, and all the different island dances.

Personally, the relationships that I’ve formed with the other grads have been a great. Having the group as a support meant that I didn’t feel alone here, and because most of the graduates had moved here, we all had similar experiences and challenges. It’s such a strange experience to try to navigate the public service for the first time—I mean, everyone talks another language! But being in the grad program meant that I had the opportunity and time to find my feet, and I think I really needed that.

I’m originally from Newcastle and my children and grandchildren live there, so I knew moving to Canberra was going to be a huge change. It does take time to get into your rhythm, but as far as Canberra is concerned, I love it. I’m able to attend the many events like the Australia Day celebrations, Floriade or indulge my creative side with arts and crafts shows.

My partner also moved to Canberra with me, so I already had really good support at home but the support of the graduates was really great. There are always heaps of events on like barbecues and dinners which make it easy to develop strong friendships. The graduate group is very inviting; they really made me feel as though I belonged. As well as social events, during orientation week there are many activities and meetings which encourage interaction between the group, and this greatly assisted in forming relationships early on.

Where are you working now?
I am now working in the Grant Support Section as the Training Coordinator for GMS. It is an amazing opportunity and a great job, I liaise daily with program managers, ICCs and external agency stakeholders and I’ve been able to travel as part of my work.

Why would you recommend the FaHCSIA Graduate Program?
Working for FaHCSIA is fantastic. The organisational culture is a very healthy one and staff take the values and code or conduct off the walls and put them into practice. There is so much support available to graduates, as well as many opportunities for self-development. If you want to start a career in the public service FaHCSIA is a good place to be. The Department is really supportive of new staff and the working conditions are great—you really get looked after.

Content Updated: 13 March 2014