Department of Social Services Graduate Program

Eliza-Jane Pearsall

Data & Analysis Stream, Policy Modeller

A little about me

I moved to Canberra from Tasmania in 2011 to study physics at ANU, so I had already been living in Canberra for a number of years before I started at DSS. Personally I think Canberra is one of the most underrated cities in Australia – naturally beautiful with all the benefits of a really well designed city. I applied for the DSS Graduate Programme because I wanted to understand how the Government develops and implements policy, especially social policy from which I had directly benefitted as a student. I’ve been lucky enough to contribute to that process in my job.

My experience as a graduate

I participated in the data and analysis stream, with rotations in policy modelling and data analysis, and extraction. Both of my rotations involved analysing and manipulating data from the Department of Human Services to provide an evidence base for policy development, and both were fascinating and challenging. My degree in physics is not directly related to the work I have done, but being able to work comfortably with numbers, follow logic in computer programming, think critically and work with Microsoft Excel are all skills that I developed in my studies which I have applied at work. Since I started, I have added to my knowledge and skills in DSS related areas through formal training, learning on the job and taking an active interest in my work.

What I do now

Currently, I work in a team which models the entire Government payment and personal income tax system. Individually, my work is quite varied, including modelling how proposed policy changes affect different population groups (such as families with children), analysing existing features of the tax-transfer system, calculating how hypothetical families are affected by proposed changes to the current system, and modelling the cost or saving a proposed policy change may have on the Budget. Having such a close role in policy development means that I can often connect how my work relates to what is being discussed in politics and the media.

Highlights of my graduate programme

The three highlights of my public service career so far have been:

  • Working on the child care proposal for the 2015 Budget, and being recognised for this work by my supervisor and executives;
  • Having numbers I’ve calculated appear in the media, and;
  • Being able to contribute meaningfully to the work of my team, being able to see the importance of that work both within and outside the Department, and genuinely enjoying it.

Advice to 2017 DSS Graduate Programme Applicants

For me the 2015 Graduate Programme was an overwhelmingly positive experience, and for anyone interested in any aspect of the very broad work that DSS does I would recommend applying, even if you think your degree isn’t relevant. Like me, you may be surprised.