Department of Social Services Graduate Program

Drew Thomas

Generalist Stream, Policy Advisor

A little about me

I studied psychology and fashion in Brisbane before moving to Canberra in 2015 to join the DSS Graduate Programme as a generalist. I am passionate about equality, equity, and social cohesion, so when the opportunity to work in the heart of Australia’s social policy agency came up I jumped on it, and haven’t looked back. Since joining DSS I have learned, and continue to learn, a huge amount about social policy, government processes and functions, and the society of Australia. 

My experience as a graduate

I started work in the Evaluation Unit, assessing the effectiveness of new policies and programs to ensure that taxpayers’ money is being well spent and providing the best outcomes for Australians. I also have worked in Policy Analysis, providing figures and analysis to the Minister, Prime Minister and Cabinet for new policy proposals. I was able to assess the outcome of new policy proposals on the budget, and how it would affect individual Australians, to fully inform decision makers about the real impact of social policy changes. I have been able to use many of the skills I learned at university, including my research and statistical background, and my understanding of human behaviour. I’m yet to have my fashion qualification called on directly, but with the variety of work in the Department I would hardly be surprised if it was.

What I do now

Since completing the graduate programme I have transitioned into Policy Strategy where I am developing new approaches to policy and programme design using behavioural insights. Every day I am challenged to come up with innovative ways to better deliver programmes and services to Australians that benefit both individuals and wider society, but at a minimal cost to the government. I get to work with smart, engaging people that are also passionate about delivering the best possible result for Australia.

Highlights of my graduate programme

Through the programme, the Department has invested a huge amount in my learning and development, and a year out of university I feel miles ahead of my friends who went into other jobs or graduate programmes. The real highlight of the year was all the other grads I now count amongst my closest friends, I was afraid in moving to Canberra I would lose friends, but I have had one of the most fun and enriching years of my life, both at work and outside it. 

Advice to 2017 DSS Graduate Programme Applicants

If you are passionate about social issues, then the Department of Social Services Graduate Programme must be your first choice. Graduates get development and work conditions that are hard match, and the opportunity to work on issues that make a real difference in people’s lives. Work areas include social security, women’s and family safety, disability, housing and homelessness, multicultural and settlement services, and mental health, meaning graduates can work in a variety of interesting areas and get involved with things they are passionate about.