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Anna Jane Garnock
University of Wollongong
Anna studied Bachelor of International Studies & Bachelor of Arts at University of Wollongong
What's your job about?
The Department of Employment provide a range of employment services to unemployed Australians and my team are responsible for driving youth unemployment policy to assist young job seekers between 17 to 24 years old.
Throughout the past 4 months the Labour Market Policy Branch have been implementing the Youth Employment Package, a policy initiative raised in Governments 2015-16 Budget. At the core of the package is the Youth Jobs PaTH (Prepare, Trial, Hire) initiative which provides pre-employment training, work experience and wage subsidies to help young people get a job and stay in a job. My team mainly addressed the roll-out of the first of three components (Prepare) – Employability Skills Training (EST). As part of this roll-out, I created a PowerPoint presentation on Youth Jobs PaTH for my Branch Manager to use for her presentation at a conference; I typed/distributed the key feedback notes from the various consultations meetings conducted around the country; I generated a table for the EST Consultation Paper to show that the components described in the ‘Being Work Ready’ Document correlate with the components in the Core Skills Framework (CSfW); I compared the 10 core skills in the CSfW Framework and matched the Performance Criteria with vocational training courses; and I collated a list of contact details of key stakeholders that was used in the distribution of the EST Consultation Paper.
Alongside this rollout, I have personally worked on a range of tasks for the Ministers Office such as Ministerial briefs, senate estimates, ministerial correspondence, Question Time Briefs, Back Pocket Briefs, Hot Issues Briefs and Questions on Notice. I also had the opportunity to work with Directors and staff from other teams in my Branch to research, develop and present a strong argument at the annual El Masters Debate, arguing that Australia should adopt an Unemployment Insurance scheme by 2030. Tasks on the side of my immediate role include sending out the relevant media to my team daily, working in the ‘Find and Connect Working Group’ to implement an enhanced Corporate Directory, and volunteering in the Social Committee to fundraise for the Domestic Violence Crisis Service by running events such as the annual Department of Employment Trivia Night.
What's your background?
I was born and bred in Canberra, and apart from 1 year spent in Malta, my mum’s birthplace, I lived in Canberra until I was 18 years old. After graduating year 12, I spent a rewarding year in South-East Africa and Europe volunteering and backpacking, where I learnt about the effects of colonisation, globalisation, health epidemics, ill-managed international aid, institutionalised corruption, civil war, internally displaced people and severe poverty. Fascinated by social, environmental, political and ethical issues globally, I commenced a Bachelor of International Studies and a Bachelor of Arts (Philosophy) upon return to our beautiful Australian shores. With Spanish as one of my majors and determined to explore more parts of the world, I grabbed the opportunity to go on the Exchange Program and studied/travelled in Mexico for one perspective-making and humbling yet eye-opening and exciting year. During the remaining two years of studying and working at the University of Wollongong, I volunteered with three not-for-profit organisations teaching English to refugees, assisting the resettlement of refugees, and as a Telephone Crisis Support Worker at Lifeline (and ongoing commitment). Gaining experience in grass roots, community-based organisations lead me to appreciate the capacity that Government has in affecting the lives of many Australians. Eager to contribute to Government policy research and development, I applied for a graduate position at the Department of Employment. And as the saying goes, the rest is history.
Could someone with a different background do your job?
Absolutely yes. A policy analyst does not require a specific type of academic discipline. In fact, my colleagues have a vast range of backgrounds, from economics and law to biological science and psychology. What’s important is that employees have highly developed written and oral communication skills, reasonably strong research skills, and an ability to absorb, analyse and respond to vast array of information. Given the nature of how academia requirements operate at the University level, anyone who had applied themselves at University will likely be in good stead to work effectively in a broad policy area like youth unemployment in the Australian Public Service.
What's the coolest thing about your job?
What I love most about my job is that I have access to some of the most credible research and analysis of issues around employment policy effecting youth, people who are homeless, and parents – three areas in which I am paid to critically assess and draw ideas from (like a university essay only real life!). I find the research and analysis of these matters to be complex and challenging yet fascinating and significant.
What are the limitations of your job?
There are two main limitations in my role as a policy analyst for the Australian Government. The first is the interests of the Government of the Day. To be frank, we are limited to only research/drive policy advice, in the form of an NPP (National Policy Paper), which is suitable to the political interests of the Government of the Day, otherwise it’s highly unlikely that the NPP will be considered for Budget. The second limitation is the system in which we work under. Government is limited in its procedural capacities as there are systems in place, such as budgets and tight time frames, which prevent some initiatives working as effectively as they could. Operating under this framework means you work to the best of your abilities within the boundaries of Government systems and parliamentary politics.
Pieces of advice for yourself when you were a student...
I would say:
Refuse to believe/listen to thoughts that are not useful/helpful to you, such as negative judgements about yourself. Accept how you feel at all times, making room for those feelings, to free yourself from inner turmoil and unnecessary suffering. Explore what’s meaningful to you and clarify your values in regards to relationships, work, mental and physical health, community contribution and leisure/self-care. Write down how you can behave and what you can do and to be true to these values every single day. Make a promise to yourself to commit to these values. No matter what, you choose how you respond to every situation you ever face. Breathe and choose a response that’s most meaningful to you, always.