Department of Social Services 2020 Graduate Development Program

Want to make a difference at the centre of social policy?

The Department of Social Services offers a challenging and meaningful career at the heart of the Australian Government's social policy agenda. It’s more than just a job.

How to apply

Applications for the 2020 Graduate Development Program are open on the Departments careers webpage from 29 March 2019 until 8 May 2019. Candidates should ensure they submit their applications in this period as we will not accept late applications.

Once the positions are advertised you will be required to create an account to register and use the online recruitment website.

When completing the online application you will be asked to provide your:

  • personal information
  • employment details
  • CV/resume (as an attachment)
  • Referees

About the Department of Social Services 2020 Graduate Development Program

The Department of Social Services (the department) offers around 70 places in our challenging and rewarding Graduate Development Program each year.

The Graduate Development Program is a 10-month development program, which has been running since 1998 attracting graduates from around Australia from a diverse range of academic disciplines.

The overall aim of the Graduate Development Program is to attract and recruit high calibre graduates, from a range of academic disciplines, with the skills and capabilities required by the department to deliver its strategic outcomes.

The department therefore seeks interest from graduates who are committed to the values of the department and will work to make a difference to the lives of all Australians.

Our Graduate Development Program provides you with diverse career opportunities across the department and gives you the chance to make a difference to the lives of some of the most vulnerable people in our society. The ten-month Graduate Development Program offers graduates training and networking opportunities and a permanent position within the department with a competitive salary, excellent working conditions and broad opportunities for career development.

Here are just a few of the benefits:

  • Ongoing employment on successful completion of mandatory elements of the program,
  • Two five-month work rotations,
  • Meaningful and challenging high priority work,
  • Competitive starting salary and superannuation benefits.
  • Relocation assistance if you join the department from outside the ACT,
  • The opportunity to work on policies and programs that directly affect the wellbeing of people and families in Australia,
  • Placements in technical areas that enable the development of specialist skills,
  • Diverse career opportunities across the department,
  • Strong community/network of graduates,
  • Extensive learning and development opportunities, and
  • Excellent employment conditions, including flexible working hours and generous leave entitlements.


$62,470 - $67,781

Graduates are engaged at the APS3 classification level and paid on a fortnightly basis. In addition to salary, superannuation benefits will be no less than 15.4% of an employee’s fortnightly contribution salary.

Online testing – mid May 2019

If your initial application is successful, you will be invited by email to participate in online testing which includes cognitive abilities testing, personality profile and a situational judgment test.

Video interview – late May 2019

If you successfully complete the online testing, you will be invited by email to participate in a video interview. You will have time to practice before you submit your video interview.

Assessment Centre – June/July 2019

If you are successful at the video interview stage, you will be invited to attend an assessment centre. These will be conducted in most capital cities and run for half a day. You can attend morning or afternoon sessions. The assessment centre process includes:

  • panel interview
  • group activity
  • work sample testing

You will need to bring photographic identification, your academic transcript/s and a passport photo.

The interview process is similar to any professional job interview. At the interview:

  • present yourself well and dress appropriately
  • speak clearly
  • know the job you are applying for, research the website
  • show interest and enthusiasm, we want to know you want to work with us
  • ask for clarification if you are unsure of anything

Referee Reports – mid July 2019

Referee reports are used to seek information about your employment history, qualifications, experience and role suitability. They also provide the selection panel with the opportunity to seek clarification on matters discussed during your assessment.

Merit Pool – end of July 2019

If you are found suitable for a graduate role you will be placed into a merit pool.

Note: not all suitable candidates will be offered a position. We recommend you do not give notice to your current employer before you have been provided a formal letter of offer.

Apply Now

The recruitment process is being managed by DFP Recruitment Services.

If you have any questions about the process or would like more information contact:

DFP Recruitment Services
Phone: 1300 384 442

Relocation assistance

You will be able to access our relocation assistance if you join the department from outside the ACT.

For more information on our employment conditions you can read our Enterprise Agreement.

Training and development

We provide comprehensive internal and external training and development activities throughout the Graduate Development Program. Graduates undertake a tailored development program that includes a blend of mandatory digital and face to face courses, as well as optional events.

Graduates are offered networking opportunities with senior executives and mentoring from members of the Senior Executive Service .

The department has a strong commitment to ongoing learning and development beyond the Graduate Development Program, offering a number of training opportunities, professional development courses and access to study leave.

Work/life harmony

We are a people-based organisation with a strong commitment and culture to balancing life and work. Under our current Enterprise Agreement, we support this by offering:

  • flexible working hours, in alignment with business requirements,
  • generous leave entitlements including cultural and ceremonial leave, community volunteering leave, parental leave, maternity leave and personal/carers leave, and
  • Christmas and Easter closedowns.

For more information on our employment conditions, you can read our Enterprise Agreement.

Who are we looking for?

If you are looking for a challenge and want to make a difference to the lives of Australians, we recruit graduates for the following pathways:

  • Generalist.
  • Specialist;
    • Communications,
    • Data and Analysis,
    • Finance,
    • Human Resources,
    • Information and Technology, and
    • Legal.

We actively encourage applications from people with disability, people with culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds as well as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. For information on the department’s commitment to supporting diversity and inclusion, you can read our diversity page, or Gender Equality page.

As a Generalist graduate you will have a chance to work on policies and programs that respond to need across people’s lives – looking after families, children and older people; providing a safety net for people who cannot fully support themselves; enhancing the wellbeing of people with high needs; assisting people who need help with care; and supporting a diverse and harmonious society.

As a Specialist graduate you will be placed in a business area that focuses on developing your technical skills, with direction and support provided by other specialists in your field. To apply for a specialist pathway, you must have completed a qualification in a related discipline. For further information on our Specialist pathway, refer to 'Who are we looking for?'

Please note positions are primarily located in Canberra, ACT. When applying for the Graduate Development Program, you must be willing to relocate to Canberra, ACT.

About the Department of Social Services

The Department of Social Services is responsible for a diverse range of policies, payments, programs and services that improve the wellbeing of individuals and families in Australian communities.

The department works in partnership with other government and non-government organisations to ensure the effective development, management and delivery of these initiatives.

We fund services and payments that assist families, children and older people, provide a safety net for those who cannot fully support themselves, enhance the wellbeing of people with high needs, assist those who need help with care, and support a diverse and harmonious society.

Our mission

Our mission is to improve the wellbeing of individuals and families in Australian communities.


We work in partnership with government and non-government organisations to achieve our mission through the effective development, management and delivery of payments, policies, programs and services.

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