Government and Public Sector

The public service implements government policies and provides information and services to support policy decisions. Australia’s government system is based on the British idea of a politically neutral, impartial public service serving the government of the day.

In recent times, the public service has undergone significant cultural changes, with a shift towards a more corporate model of best practice, emphasising cost-effectiveness and accountability. Outsourcing of work previously undertaken by government employees has become more common. As a result of this trend, some public servants move into consultancy after gaining experience in a particular department or field.

The work

Occupation roles within government are diverse. Policy and administrative pathways are common, but there are many other areas of work within the distinct portfolio areas and at different levels of government.

In Australia, different portfolios of responsibility are attached to different levels of government – federal, state and local – although there is often overlap. Contrary to popular opinion, government employs a range of professionals, not just administrators. Accountants, agricultural scientists, economists, engineers, geologists, lawyers, doctors, nurses and librarians are just some of the many occupational roles within contemporary government organisations. Most government departments actively seek graduates from a range of disciplines for their graduate programs.

The public sector represents 18 per cent of the Australian workforce and employment growth has been strong over the last five years. Moderate growth is expected to continue to 2014, encouraged by the significant replacement demands of an ageing workforce. Graduate options will likely remain positive, with particular demand in areas of justice, public order and safety services (

Positions are also available in defence and these are not limited to combat or field-based roles. Administrative, legislative, policy, research and development, science, engineering, IT, health, law and environmental roles exist in most defence departments, including the Army, Navy and Air Force. Scholarships to support work and study are often open to students and graduates working in defence.

What you need