Siobhan Dwyer is an adviser at the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet. She joined as a graduate in 2019. Prior to the Department, she was working at the Centre for Interfaith and Cultural Dialogue at Griffith University, after graduating with a Bachelor of Government and International Relations from Griffith University in 2017.
Why the interest in PM&C?
The Department is a central agency, which means it offers exposure to work across a broad range of subject areas and the opportunity to provide whole-of-government policy advice. I was also attracted to the idea of being able to brief the Prime Minister and Portfolio Ministers, including the Minister for Women.
How does the grad program work?
The graduate program is a 12-month program which provides the opportunity to rotate across the many different areas of the Department and also involves regular professional development seminars and peer mentoring.
When I first joined, I worked in the Office for Women’s Safety and Wellbeing team where I assisted with the Incoming Government Briefing process and a whole-of-Government Preventing Sexual Exploitation, Abuse and Harassment Policy. I am currently completing a rotation in the Inclusion and Diversity team within People Branch. It is interesting to see the strategies currently being developed and in place dedicated to the inclusivity and diversity of PM&C staff.
Best aspects of the program thus far?
The diversity of opportunities within the graduate program has been a definite highlight. Nowhere else would I have dreamed that in my first year I would get to attend an international women’s day event in Parliament House, directly participate in an Incoming Government Briefing process or present at the Secretary’s All Staff address.
What has been most challenging?
Adapting to the pace of the Department and the sheer scope of the work has taken time. The start of each rotation offers new challenges as you adjust to different workstyles and learn new subject areas.
The most surprising part?
I have been continuously amazed at the generosity of colleagues here. People have taken time out of their days to share their stories both as graduates and beyond, to check in to see how I am settling into Canberra both professionally and personally and even to decode particularly difficult acronyms. PM&C fosters a collaborative and supportive culture, where staff are encouraged and supported to become curious, well-rounded advisers.
What did you do between studying and full-time work?
I worked for a Federal Member for Parliament before starting with the Centre for Interfaith and Cultural Dialogue at Griffith University. Both jobs provided me with great experiences to draw on when applying for graduate roles in the Australian Public Service.
Advice to current students?
Don’t be afraid to apply for your dream job – if you never try, you’ll never know. Applying for graduate programs can be very demanding and time-consuming, but it will all be worth it when you arrive at orientation on your first day and meet your new colleagues.