What it does: Supports and commemorates those who’ve served their country
Staff stats: Around 2000
The good bits: Working for a good cause
The not so good bits: Media and political scrutiny
Department of Veterans’ Affairs story
The Department of Veterans’ Affairs (DVA) was formed in 1976 as the successor to the Department of Repatriation. It’s responsible for delivering programs for war veterans, Australian Defence Force members, Australian Federal Police staff members and their dependants. The DVA is the administrator of payments and services under several legislative acts. It fulfils its functions by administering several agencies. These include the Australian War Memorial, Specialist Medical Review Council and Veterans’ Children Education Board.
The DVA often plays an important role in the lives of its clients, who include veterans and their widows and children. The department is headed by a Secretary. The Secretary reports to the Minister for Veterans’ Affairs.
The DVA believes “an inclusive workplace that is understanding and respectful of differences such as gender, race, disability or age” enhances “the department’s ability to drive creativity and think innovatively”.
The DVA recruits staff members with disabilities through its participation in the Australian Public Service’s RecruitAbility scheme. Its Gender Equality Action Plan promotes greater diversity and workplace flexibility with the aim of attracting, retaining and promoting more female employees.
The department also participates in the Australian Public Service’s Indigenous Graduate Recruitment Program.
Veterans and their families make significant sacrifices to help defend the nation. As a DVA staffer, you will have the opportunity to facilitate Australians repaying some of the debt to they owe to those who’ve guaranteed their safety and freedom.
The recruitment process
DVA recruits a small intake of graduates each year. To be considered, you’ll need to be an Australian citizen and willing to relocate to Canberra. Graduates from all disciplines are eligible to apply. However, the DVA’s preferences for graduates with particular degrees can change from year to year.
The five selection criteria the DVA looks for are:
- Supports strategic direction
- Achieves results
- Supports productive working relationships
- Displays personal drive and integrity
- Communicates with influence
The recruitment process begins with an online application. This will involve uploading your academic results, referees’ contact details, employment history and a one-page statement explaining how you meet the DVA’s selection criteria.
After this comes online testing and possibly a pre-screening interview. If that goes well, you’ll be asked to attend an assessment centre. Here you’ll undertake several activities to “further assess your capability against the selection criteria”. Within a month of attending the assessment centre, the DVA will advise whether your application has been successful. If it has, you will start the program in February.
The DVA grad program runs for 11 months. It is structured into three placements that take place across DVA’s various business areas. These include the Secretary’s office, the Health and Community Services Division, the Corporate Division and the Veterans and Veterans Families Counselling Service.
Generalist graduates receive an overview of how the DVA operates. They contribute real work and are given the opportunity to grow their professional networks. By the end of the program, graduates are equipped with skills in policy, client service and work organisation.
(ICT graduates undertake one placement in a DVA business area but also participate in two placements within the ICT Solutions Branch.)
Grads are graded at the first pay point of the APS4 classification, which translates to a salary of $66,511. At the end of the program, you will be paid at the top band of the APS4 classification, which is $70,939. The DVA also offers 15.4 per cent superannuation, generous leave entitlements, salary sacrifice options, study assistance, a healthy lifestyle allowance and a relocation allowance.
The DVA aspires to give grads the best possible start to their careers. They have access to orientation, support, mentoring and training. The DVA supports the continuing career development of its staff through internal training courses, postgraduate studies support and its Intra-Agency Network. (This connects employees to short work placements in different areas of the department.)
The vibe of the place
Located in the heart of Canberra, the DVA office is surrounded by cafes and shops. Grads have plenty of opportunity to socialise and the DVA will even pay your membership fee for the Australian Public Service’s Social Network of Graduates.
The DVA offers staff a good work-life balance, a positive and friendly workplace culture, accessible managers and the opportunity to get involved in diverse and meaningful projects.
Star rating: 4.6
From the Employer:
"At the Department of Veterans’ Affairs, our work makes a real difference in the lives of Australia’s veterans and their families. Our clients are diverse, ranging from young children, through contemporary veterans of operations in places like Afghanistan, to war widows of First World War servicemen. We meet them during some of their most difficult times, and are there to support their wellbeing throughout their lives.
We are looking for people who are as committed to service excellence, innovation and continuous improvement as we are.
Each year, we select a small number of graduates and take a genuine interest in their development and success. In our program, you will be highly visible.
You will also be challenged, undertaking three rotations across different parts of our business and completing a major team project as part of the Australian Public Service Commission’s whole-of-government graduate development program.
We offer great working conditions to assist you with a healthy work-life balance, a generous starting salary, the support of a former graduate ‘buddy’, and help you relocate if you need to. We also offer a career in a dynamic organisation, stepping forward to meet the challenge of client-focussed, connected service delivery."