What it does: Makes sure Australians aren’t getting ripped off
Staff stats: Around 800
The good bits: Interesting work, supportive workplace culture
The not so good bits: Limited resources
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission story
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (universally referred to as the ACCC) came into existence in 1995. It emerged as a result of the amalgamation of the Australian Trades Practices Commission and Prices Surveillance Authority. The ACCC is one of the Federal Government’s most high-profile independent authorities, safeguarding the interests of consumers against predatory businesses.
The ACCC administers the Competition and Consumer Act and can act in the Federal Court to enforce its provision. Fines imposed by the Federal Court can exceed $10 million. If business owners/managers are found guilty of the accusations such as Illegal activities like forming a cartel for example, they can face prison terms of up to 10 years. The ACCC is charged with protecting consumer rights, regulating industries, preventing price-gouging and anti-competitive behaviour. It is the watchdog that makes sure businesses operating in Australia meet their obligations (while enjoying the rights they are entitled to).
Unsurprisingly, many in corporate Australia are hostile to the ACCC. On the other hand, it’s one of the few government agencies that a significant number Australians express passionate support for. The ACCC is overseen by a Chairman, who has an executive team consisting of two Deputy Chairs and four Commissioners. Its parent agency is the Department of Treasury.
Like most public-sector employers, the ACCC is big on inclusion. It values “employees from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds”. It also encourages staff to “freely be themselves without fear of discrimination or judgement about their ancestry, age, religion, sexuality or disability status”.
The ACCC has both Reconciliation Action and Disability Action plans. Among other goals, these plans aim to increase the employment of, respectively, Indigenous and disabled Australians. It also has a Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Intersex Employee Ally Network and puts on a ‘Diversity Program of Events’ each year.
The ACCC has a workplace-giving program that facilitates staff donating to selected charities. It is committed to reducing its environmental impact. It also plays a vital role in making sure everyday Australians aren’t defrauded, exploited or overcharged by powerful businesses.
The recruitment process
It’s not required to get into the grad program but you may want to do an internship if you’re considering a career with the ACCC.
The ACCC will consider grads from a range of disciplines. However, it is chiefly interested in those who’ve studied econometrics, financial modelling, industrial economics, law and public policy. The recruitment process involves making an online application. If you make the cut, you’ll be invited to an attend an assessment centre in the nearest capital city. Here you will do an interview, an individual task and a group task. If your application proceeds, you’ll then be required to do an online aptitude test. If that goes well, you’ll receive a job offer after your references are checked.
Grads start on the Graduate APS salary ($59,104). This gets bumped up to a base-level APS4 salary ($67,667) after they’ve completed the program.
Staff get generous super (15.4 per cent) and leave entitlements (personal leave, parental leave and four week’s annual leave with the option to purchase more). Flexible working arrangements are readily available. You’ll receive ‘studies assistance’ if you undertake further education or training. There’s also an annual $300 payment for “healthy lifestyle-related activities”.
The graduate program involves three 14-week rotations that provide a broad understanding of the agency’s work. The ACCC has offices throughout Australia and graduates can do an interstate rotation if they wish. The grad program involves on-the-job learning, formal training events and a range of learning and development activities “designed to meet… individual needs”. During the program, you could find yourself doing anything from consumer liaison activities, to product safety surveys to compliance research.
The ACCC is a small agency where people enjoy their jobs and tend to hang around. While you can expect quick promotions early in your career, expect to face stiff completion once you reach middle-management level.
The vibe of the place
While you won’t get the other private sector corporate perks, you’re likely to find yourself working in a well-appointed CBD office. The hierarchy is flat, meaning you could find yourself chatting to a commissioner in the office lift. The workplace culture varies from office to office. Generally, you should find your colleagues friendly even if you don’t end up socialising with them much out of hours.
Star Rating: 4.3 stars
From the Employer:
"By joining the ACCC you can contribute to the welfare of consumers, businesses and the wider community. We are responsible for promoting competition, fair trade and consumer protection in Australia. The Australian Energy Regulator (AER) is Australia's national energy market regulator and has an independent board.
We take action where this improves consumer welfare, protects competition or stops conduct that is anti-competitive or harmful to consumers, and promotes the proper functioning of Australian markets.
An example of the work of the ACCC is the investigation of Careers Australia Group Limited (Careers Australia). In addition to misrepresentation over course fees and employment opportunities, Careers Australia offered inducements such as free iPads if students signed up for courses. In May 2016 we accepted a court enforceable undertaking from Careers Australia after Careers Australia admitted that some of its marketing agents breached the ACL by making false or misleading representations and engaging in unconscionable conduct. Careers Australia has cancelled at least 12 130 of these student enrolments and either repaid or partially repaid to the Commonwealth amounts totaling at least $44.3 million.
Our graduates build their skills and knowledge by contributing to decisions with far-reaching economic, industrial and legal implications across the organisation. To be an ACCC graduate you must have completed at least a three year undergraduate degree by the program start and have a minimum of a credit average.
- Three 14-week rotations
- A competitive salary and promotion on completion of the program
- Extensive on-the-job learning, formal training and guidance from senior staff
- Flexible working conditions."