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Department of Health AU

  • #15 in Government & public services
  • 1,000 - 50,000 employees

Ryan Baker

What's your job about?

My job is about contributing to the better health and wellbeing of Australians by supporting the delivery of Government services and key programs. As a graduate at the Department of Health, I have had the opportunity to work in a range of work areas including mental health policy, aged care program delivery and Commonwealth hospital financing.

The highlight of the year for me was my rotation in the Youth Mental Health Section. The team was working on implementing the Government’s response to the Review of Mental Health Programmes and Services. I was responsible for a variety of tasks, but largely had responsibility for conducting research to inform the design of a new government program. I worked closely with my colleagues and had the opportunity to contribute to discussion and key documents that influenced the design of the program. This gave me a strong sense of achievement, knowing that I had contributed to the implementation of key government policy. 

It is hard to describe a typical day, but some examples of tasks I have had responsibility for includes reading about developments in the media, coordinating responses to queries on behalf of the team or researching policy issues. The role of a graduate and departmental officer at the Department of Health is varied and could involve anything from writing a report to planning a consultation forum.  

What's your background?

I am originally from Western Australia and moved to Canberra to take up a position in the Department of Health graduate programme in 2016. Before joining Health, I studied a double-degree in Arts and Communications, majoring in Politics, history and Public Relations. I had always had an interest in public policy in Australia and had a passion for research. I have been at Health for one year now and have had a great time, not just at work, but also attending training and events such as attending the APSC Graduate Debate and Parliamentary Question Time.

Could someone with a different background do your job?

Yes, there are a variety of roles at the Department of Health, from medical officers and scientists to communication officers and contract managers. The work of the Department is vast and requires people from many different backgrounds, many of which would not consider a career at the Department or in the Public Service. To be successful, you need to be willing to explore your strengths and weaknesses, and be willing to learn. For example, someone from an accounting or finance background might find policy development and research more rewarding than working in finance. 

What's the coolest thing about your job?

The best thing about my job is contributing to solutions that have a real impact on the lives of Australians. What I enjoy the most about working at the Department of Health is working with people from a range of backgrounds. It has been great working contributing to solutions that lead to results on the ground, such as working on program development or funding proposals. I get a great sense of achievement in my role, particularly when I know I have contributed to an outcome that will have a positive impact on others. 

What are the limitations of your job?

Whilst the role of a graduate at the Department of Health is a great experience, at times workloads can be challenging and procedures can become a burden. Some graduates will experience work in a fast-paced team whilst working on an exciting project. Others may spend some time working on areas that are still important to the health system, but are receiving less attention at the time. However, work in the Department is balanced and there is something for everyone. The range of work means that you are likely to enjoy a variety of experiences throughout your career.

3 pieces of advice for yourself when you were a student...

If I had three pieces of advice for myself as a student it would be:

  • Don’t be afraid to challenge yourself and take your career or studies in new directions.
  • Networking is a great way to make friends and open doors for yourself, even if it doesn’t come naturally to you.  
  • Apply for that position that you want and be the best that you can throughout the selection process, but don’t feel let down if you don’t get the position you wanted at first. Keep trying for that job that you want!

Why did you choose the Department of Health?

I chose the Department of Health because I wanted to contribute to the health of the community, and saw this as an opportunity to contribute to people’s health without having to have medical qualifications. The Graduate Development Programme (GDP) at Health offered the opportunity to utilise my current skills, and develop new skills, whilst contributing to health policy in Australia. The GDP offers numerous opportunities to gain experience across a range of areas, and is a great start to a career in the Australian Public Service.

What are you interests?

I am an open-minded, motivated and friendly kind of person. I enjoy working with others and meeting new people. I find that friendships are very important to building an engaging and rewarding workplace. I enjoy challenges and overcoming them together with my colleagues. Throughout the graduate program I have found that my preference is for a fast-paced and challenging work area.

I have various hobbies from playing guitar, running, going to the gym, reading, meditating and learning about cultures and languages. I am a very social person and I am often the first person to respond yes to an event invite.