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Meet our grads
Joining the NDIA in 2016 was very much entering the unknown given that the Agency was, and still is, in its infancy. The constant change since I joined has both challenged my resilience and opened up a variety of opportunities for career development that I believe are unparalleled in the APS.
At the outset I felt like a valued member of the Agency. During orientation we had senior management from a range of internal teams set aside considerable time to speak to us about their roles and the work of their areas. As someone new to the disability sector this was a great way to further my understanding of the work being done by both the Agency and broader disability sector.
The NDIA Graduate Program consisted of two rotations, the first of which we were placed in based on our skill set when we applied, with the second based largely on discussions with the Graduate Team about areas that interested us. In addition to this we completed the APSC Graduate Program which involved a number of trips to Canberra to attend workshops on a range of topics relevant to employment in the APS. It also presented an opportunity to network and develop friendships with graduates from other APS Departments.
Over the course of the year we also completed in small groups a major project on a topic linked to the strategic direction of the NDIA. My team's project focussed on the employment and retention of employees with disability at the NDIA. Throughout the project we had great access and support from our SES mentor who was able to provide advice on how to approach different situations and challenges that arose throughout the project.
Since the graduate program ended my career has taken another turn. I took an opportunity to move across the country and work in service delivery in a new roll-out site before again moving to a regional hub role in engagement. In two years I have worked in four very different roles, and never would have anticipated that I would end up in the role I am now and I couldn't be happier with how it turned out. This would not have been possible in such a short space of time if not for the opportunities offered by being a graduate with the NDIA.
I grew up in Adelaide and studied Public Health, majoring in Health Promotion at Central Queensland University through distance education study. I applied for the NDIA Graduate Program during the last year of my degree. I was drawn to the amazing work the NDIA does to improve health and social outcomes for people with disability.
In the NDIA Graduate Program there are plenty of development opportunities, including participating in the APSC Graduate Development Program to learn fundamental APS skills to succeed in the workplace. On the job learning is important at the NDIA, and in the graduate rotations I was able to gain experience working in the public sector.
During the graduate program I have worked across some very diverse areas of the agency. I have had rotations in Co-Design and Inclusion and Human Resources. Both of these rotations have provided me with a perspective on working with people with disability and working with employees and managers.
One of the positive things I have found about working at the NDIA is the quality and amount of support I receive from the employees. My managers and colleagues from my graduate work rotations have been encouraging and helpful in my first year at the NDIA. I was able to learn something new every day during the graduate program which made the program even more worthwhile.
As part of my graduate year, I was provided with opportunities to be involved in activities that accelerated development and understanding of the National Disability Insurance Agency.
It is a competitive recruitment process and challenging year, with only three to five per cent of applicants offered a place in the NDIA Graduate Program, but the outcomes are rewarding and rich.
Opportunity to work with people who are passionate about making a positive difference to society and the lives of people with disability.
As a NDIA Graduate, we get the opportunity to work with graduates from across the Australian Public Service and build strong professional relationships.
My name is Mathew Christo a graduate of the 2016 Australian Public Service Commission (APSC) graduate program. I joined the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) because it provides for a great opportunity to utilise and expand my skills and abilities in a growing and passionate workplace post tertiary studies. I have completed degrees in both sociology and law and look forward to contributing and building a unique and dynamic National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) to support all Australians with disability.
As a visually impaired individual now working as a paralegal in NDIA legal services, in addition to having roles including chairing a participant network and being an employee representative in the agency, the graduate program has indeed given me a foundation to gain experience and facilitate learning to enable me to become a strong team member, advance my career and give back to the public service. Through opportunities to speak in simulations and workshops, the graduate program gave me the confidence to exercise my strengths and undertake leadership roles once I became an ongoing employee of the NDIA.
As the graduate program also provided many opportunities to network and make contacts within the workplace and wider public service, the support of mentors and guides has been an invaluable source of learning. Not only to progress and excel in the graduate program with the winning of awards, but also to inspire me to mentor others and emulate management practices for new staff members joining the NDIA.
I look forward to continuing my various roles in the agency and to improve my skills both personally and professionally. The graduate program has given me the platform to contribute to the work of the NDIA and develop lifelong skills. I would encourage others thinking of working in the public service to complete a similar 10 month graduate program to transition in to the workforce.
I grew up on New South Wales' (NSW) Central Coast and studied a Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Laws at the University of New South Wales, and completed my Honours specialising in Politics and International Studies at the University of Melbourne.
A long-held interest in public policy, discrimination law and a personal experience of disability got me involved working on a research project at the University of Melbourne which captured participants' experiences of the NDIS in the Barwon trial site. This was what initially motivated me to apply for the Australian Public Service (APS) Graduate Development Program at the National Disability Insurance Agency.
After finishing the program, I am now completing my Graduate Diploma of Legal Practice (GDLP) in preparation for admission to legal practice, having done my first rotation in the Information, Linkages and Capacity Building (ILC) Branch and the second rotation within the Agency's Legal Branch within National Office.
Since I have been at the Agency, I have enjoyed getting to meet so many hardworking and passionate people, many of whom campaigned tirelessly for the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) to become a reality. Working at the Agency is a unique, meaningful (and challenging) way to begin your career in the Australian public service. The objects and principles of the NDIS are truly transformative – as the Scheme was always established to promote the human rights of people with disability and to foster greater community inclusion as much as it was to establish a national approach to individualised support. It is the only national scheme of its kind and it has been a rewarding experience to be a part of. Even if you are unsure about whether working in government is really for you (as I was also initially unsure), you will learn a lot and your contribution will be part of life changing social reform that really matters.