Graduate Profile Najiyah Khan
Name: Najiyah Khan
Qualification: Bachelor of Laws/Bachelor of Communications (Social Inquiry)
University: University of Technology Sydney
Why did you apply for the DSS Graduate Program?
As the lead agency designing and delivering social policy, the Department of Social Services was an obvious choice for me to consider. I was impressed by the breadth and diversity of the Department’s portfolios and its mission to ‘improve the lifetime wellbeing of people and families in Australia’ was incredibly appealing on a personal level. I had also heard great things about the Department’s Graduate Program through my networks and have not been disappointed!
What were your rotations like?
My first rotation was in the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) which is responsible for the delivery of the National Disability Insurance Scheme, a top priority for Government. I was placed in the Legal Services Branch and worked in a small team during the lead up to the scheme’s launch. I could not have asked for a better experience. My supervisor was incredibly knowledgeable, professional and inspiring, with a great work ethic that I tried my best to emulate. The learning curve was immense but I always felt well supported!
My second rotation was in the Information Law team of the Public Law Branch where I handled freedom of information requests received by the Department and worked on privacy law issues. Again, it was a valuable experience which taught me the importance of relationship management with stakeholders and the principles of administrative decision making.
What were your key responsibilities?
In the NDIA, I was given a very high level of responsibility and autonomy regarding work that was critical to the delivery of the scheme. I was expected to contribute as a member of the team to achieving my section’s top priorities, being the development of a robust and well-functioning Legal Services Branch to a newly created agency. This involved assisting my supervisor with providing legal advice, collaborating with different sections to understand the policy framework, procurement, assisting with drafting operational guidelines and human rights statements of compatibility to the NDIS Act and Rules.
In the Information Law team, I was responsible for the end to end processing of freedom of information requests. This involved completing legal research on complex aspects of the Freedom of Information Act to apply in my decision making and communicating vital information to the different areas of the Department, third parties and the applicant, plus providing support on the process to all involved. There were strict statutory timeframes needing to be complied with, which meant I had to become very disciplined and organised, all essential for a successful legal career.
What opportunities were made available to you?
During my rotation in the NDIA, I was given some pretty amazing opportunities. I had the opportunity to observe the process of establishing a new agency, under tight timeframes and intense media scrutiny. I was able to watch the progression of the NDIS Act from its status as a bill, to its historic passing into legislation and the creation of the accompanying NDIS Rules. I was also involved in this process by drafting human rights statements of compatibility, to be considered by the Minister’s Office and Federal Parliament! I was asked to project manage the uploading of the operational guidelines onto the website in time for the scheme’s launch, which was a fantastic experience for a graduate to have. I also had the opportunity to participate in the drafting of the delegations under the NDIS Act, giving staff the power to make decisions under the scheme. I also got to help develop and deliver training modules on various aspects of the scheme to new staff.
What were your professional and personal highlights during the Graduate Program and how did you find the transition to Canberra?
On a professional level, I had the highlight of travelling to Geelong prior to the launch of the scheme to deliver training on the NDIS Act to a group of excited new Local Area Coordinators! This was incredible.
On a personal level I have had the best time with the other graduates in the program and I highly suggest making the most of the social experiences on offer! I have committed myself to trying new things this year, including studying French, and trying my luck at skiing, surfing, long-distance running and indoor soccer. There are also plenty of non-sport related events in Canberra! Dinner parties, movie nights and cultural festivals abound!
The transition to Canberra was made much easier by the level of support provided by the graduate team. The relocation assistance is quite generous. It’s a nice change from the hustle and bustle of Sydney and the people here are very welcoming, down to earth and engaged.
Where are you working now?
I am still completing my second rotation in the Information Law team and am looking at opportunities around the Department.
Why would you recommend the DSS Graduate Program?
It’s a superb program that is really committed to the personal and professional development of the graduates. We are treated very well and given unique experiences that teach us invaluable skills for the remainder of our careers in the public service. The graduate team is lovely and always supportive. The training I have received is intense, much more than what graduates in some of the other programs may expect! The Department is really invested in the graduates and there is great scope for career progression for aspiring leaders.