Sarah, Programme Officer at Department of Human Services
A day in the life of…

Programme Officer at Department of Human Services

Sarah studied ​a Bachelor of International Studies ​at Macquarie University in 2013 and had Master of International Relations at University of Sydney in 2015, and is now a Programme Officer at Department of Human Services.

7.30 AM

Alarm goes off. Hit ‘snooze.’

7.40 AM

Alarm goes off again. My dog jumps on my bed and starts licking my face enthusiastically. Get up and wash face. Grind coffee beans and make a long black in my coffee maker. Sip coffee and water the indoor plants.

8.00 AM

Feed the dog, feed myself and get ready. Pick out clothes that don’t need ironing.

8.45 AM

Hop on my bicycle and head for work. Say ‘hey’ to the water-bird families on the lake, which is looking pretty picturesque with mist hovering over it in the cool morning.

9.00 AM

Arrive at work. I lock my bike in the undercover bike parking and head inside, through the revolving doors; swiping my security access card at the gates whilst returning the security guard’s ‘good morning’. Then I head up the three flights of stairs to my desk, change into my work shoes.

9.10 AM

Log on to my computer to check emails. Read through the daily news summaries to stay in touch with things that are relevant to the department, in particular any articles related to students. Say ‘hi’ to my out-posted colleague up in Port Macquarie and discuss work priorities. I’m really excited that she’s coming down to Canberra in a few weeks for some training and a Branch Planning day. This will be the first time I meet her in person, although we work together every day!

9.30 AM

Check out my to-do list to see if I have any urgent tasks. I need to quickly call someone about an urgent Operational Message that we’re publishing to inform staff in Customer Service Centres of a change in how they need to process student claims for Centrelink payments. I amend my article then send it to my Director for approval before sending for publication.

10.00 AM

We’ve received a request to provide a recommendation for a customer. I need to research their specific circumstances, then look at it against the legislation. First, I spend some time reading over their application and looking at the information held by the department to gain an understanding of their circumstances. I write a summary of this and progress.

11.00 AM

Coffee time. I send a message to my work friends’ skype group-chat to see who’s keen. We meet downstairs and pop across the road and grab a coffee to go. I’m impressed that the baristas remember my name!

11.10 AM

Back to work. For the past week I’ve been writing an Issues Paper to send to our policy department to seek policy advice on behalf of my team. I thoroughly research the legislation to ensure that I understand what we need to ask. I’ve started providing an outline of the issue already, but realise I haven’t clearly articulated the specific scenario in question, which is quite complicated, so I ask my colleague to read over it and see if he understands what I am asking.

1.00 PM

Lunch time. I take my food to the balcony on level 2 to sit out in the sun with friends from my grad year. The view from here is lovely – right past the sporting field next to our building is the national park, full of tree-covered mountains.

1.30 PM

Weekly team meeting time. We dial in our out-posted colleagues – we’re spread across Australia: as well as the six of us here in Canberra we have staff in Port Macquarie, Brisbane, Adelaide and Melbourne. We discuss current team priorities, changes, and things coming up. There’s a lot happening in our space and we like to make sure we know what everyone is doing.  I talk about my Issues Paper and it’s good to get everyone’s feedback.

3.00 PM

I catch up on some other emails that have come through and complete some more work on my to do list.

4.30 PM

I do an online training course for some higher positions opening up in my branch. Our senior executive are encouraging us to do some training to equip ourselves to put in the best application we can.

5.10 PM

Time to log off. I say ‘bye’ to my colleagues and head downstairs to the gym on the ground floor to do some cycling, rowing and calisthenics.

6.00 PM

I retrieve my bike and ride over to the shopping centre to grab some groceries then ride home again via the lake.

6.30 PM

Home again. My housemate arrives home and we catch up while making dinner and sharing some wine.

7.45 PM

I grab some dog treats and rubber frisbee then head to the park with my dog. We practise some things we’re learning at dog training classes, then play frisbee until it gets dark.

8.20 PM

Home again, have a shower then I retreat to my room for some Netflixing and sleep.

Thinking of experiencing life as a Department of Human Services Graduate? Sign up to GradAustralia to receive job alerts for Department of Human Services.