Where did you grow up?
I was born and raised on the Central Coast and went to a Catholic primary and high school. I was a recipient of the Early Achievers Program for ACU, which guaranteed me entry into a Bachelor of Laws. At the end of my first year of university, I transferred from straight Law to Arts/Law to pursue my passion for history. During university, I studied in Rome and went to Myanmar to study human rights. I also volunteered at a community legal centre for one and a half years.
How did you get to your current job position?
When I applied for the 2019 NSW Government Graduate Program in mid-2018, I completed various assessment processes including written tasks, a group activity and a structured interview. This resulted in me being placed in a role that suited both my skills and business needs. I’ve been part of the Graduate Program since February 2019.
How did you choose your specialisation?
To be honest, I had never really considered Employee Relations! While I had an idea of where I would like to go professionally, I didn’t want to limit myself to specific career options and wanted to challenge myself with new experiences, which is why I was drawn to the NSW Government Graduate Program. I found this in Employee Relations and working in this area made me develop a new passion for an area of law I hadn’t previously considered exploring. Prior to this, I was considering specialising in either criminal law or consumer law.
What was your interview process like?
The recruitment process involved online tests, video interviews, and an assessment centre with group and individual interviews. I was asked about instances where I faced a problem, how I approached it and what I would do differently. The group interview had us work together to plan and implement a policy, which was quite fun!
What does your employer do?
The Department of Communities and Justice is the amalgamation of the Department of Family and Community Services and the Department of Justice. It supports our society’s most vulnerable people and families to participate in social and economic life while providing legal, court and supervision services to the people of NSW in order to create stronger communities.
What are your areas of responsibility?
Employee Relations manages the relationship between the Department and its employees through union liaison and other relevant judicial bodies and provides advice to the Department on employment law. I help coordinate meetings and consultations with the unions and assist on industrial relations and employment law matters at the Industrial Relations Commission, NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal (NCAT), and other tribunals.
Can you describe a typical workday?
Each day can be very different! Usually, I research and prepare for consultation meetings with the union while contacting various parts of the Department to develop responses on issues that the union has raised. I also conduct legal research on employment law and help prepare for matters that may be at the Industrial Relations Commission. The last thing I worked on was a review with the union of the workload tool that is used by caseworkers so they can record their time working with children in care more accurately and effectively.
What are the career prospects with your job?
Almost every business, both public and private, has an industrial relations element and needs someone to facilitate an effective relationship between the employees and the employer, as well as someone to provide advice on employment law. You can find private-sector equivalents almost everywhere, and internal growth is excellent from both a legal and non-legal aspect. This area is a great combination of administrative and employment law and human resources.
Could someone with a different background do your job?
Absolutely! While Employee Relations does have a legal element to it, there is no requirement of a law degree – if you’re an excellent planner and communicator, you will thrive in this area.
What do you love the most about your job?
I love that my work can have an impact on the entire Department and lets me witness and participate in the higher machinations of the Department. It also allows me to apply the knowledge I’ve attained through my studies but in unique and practical ways. I also work in a great team that are incredibly supportive and trusting of my skills. I greatly enjoy seeing all my planning create an effective and meaningful meeting with positive results – I love it when a plan comes together.
What’s the biggest limitation of your job?
The work in Employee Relations is quite reactive, so there are times when the workload can increase substantively with little warning. Many of the committees that I organise and prepare for involve some of the highest members of the Department’s structure, and it is important that my information is well prepared and that I have followed through on previous actions to avoid any negative consequences. Sometimes it can get quite stressful, but I found that the best way to avoid stress is to stay focused and prepare everything as early as I can so I can adapt to any sudden surprises along the way. The team is also always happy to help if I need it, which is a great comfort. I have never had to work on weekends.
Which three pieces of advice would you give to a current university student?