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Department of Veterans' Affairs

  • 1,000 - 50,000 employees


6.30 AM

The first of six alarms goes off, I immediately shut it off in a groggy swing of a limb as I am equally excited to start the day as I am to avoid the Canberra weather in the arms of my warm, supportive bed. By the sixth alarm at 7.30 am I am awake and have finished my morning ritual of watching every single football/soccer highlight of any game that has been played throughout Europe (unless I’ve been watching live since 4.30 am), and I’m ready to start the day.

9.00 AM

An 8.30 am start means that by 9.00 am I’ve read my emails, prioritised the day’s work and are eagerly awaiting the arrival of the slackers that are the 9.00 am starters. They aren’t slackers in the slightest, in all honesty, but as an ex-retail man breaking the 9.00 am – 5.00 pm cycle, it is a breath of fresh air. The morning is ripe for urgent tasks and last-minute action. Some urgent talking points are needed for the Senior Executives, and it is my task to put my I-need-to-reach-the-word-count university writing style behind me and write succinct, informative points for my Assistant Secretary on one of the many projects and programs that are being developed through DVA’s Veteran Centric Reform initiative. My words are cleared up the ranks and sent through, and I can now turn my attention to my day-to-day work. One of the best parts of being a graduate is the constant opportunity to escort people in and out of the building, and through my role I am always meeting interesting people from the Defence and Ex-Service Organisation community, all the while making sure my hair is in tip-top shape to avoid the inevitable ‘man-bun’ comments.

12.00 PM

The day is in full swing. The inevitable urgent morning tasks have been actioned and cleared, and the fast-pace of the morning means that by afternoon I’m warmed up and keen for some afternoon meetings to express my coffee-fuelled confidence. 12.00 pm is prime time for lunch, so I take this opportunity to enjoy the decreased frequency of the phone ringing to get more work finished. My mishmash of coord/secretariat/policy officer role means that there is always a meeting to organise, an important document to co-ordinate and some new and exciting programs to develop. I love a late lunch, so at 1.30 pm I’m off to the shopping centre to buy some lunch because my cooking skills are a disgrace to my Italian heritage (don’t tell Mum please).

3.00 PM

By now I’ve attended a couple of after-lunch meetings where everyone is well-fed and enthusiastic. Meetings with Defence personnel means a prompt start time and a clear agenda, and everything runs like clockwork. Depending on the meeting, I am sometimes furiously writing minutes in my unique handwriting blend of left-handedness and doctor-esque illegibility, or I am participating in a meeting that can range from improving Defence-DVA relations to a weekly catch-up that ensures both departments are on the same page.

6.00 PM

If I have smashed out my work in the morning, 6.00 pm usually means I am at home trying to cook myself something that won’t cause me long-term harm. On work days that can include important meetings or late urgent tasks, I am in the office clearing out the meeting room after a successful day’s work, or sending through documents for the Senior Executives to clear when they’re at home still working hard at 9:00pm (the joys of being a graduate).

9.30 PM

By now I’m glued to my ugly, yellow reclining couch, either watching some TV or playing some video games with the sound high enough to get excited but low enough to not wake up the young kids next door. My ridiculously dodgy knees require me to do some rehabilitation work which I procrastinate doing until I realise it’s nearly 10.30 pm. I have one eye on the day ahead of me tomorrow, carefully choosing in my head which shirt/tie combination I am going to wear based off of how many meetings I have the next day (also taking into account whether or not I am suiting up for an important occasion, or if 90% of my shirts are in the wash). It now reaches the time of night where I reflect on how the day went and what my priorities will be tomorrow. Usually this is done most effectively in the shower, but without wanting to waste water this can continue up until I make my nightly tea. It’s not until I take the time to think about the past day that I can appreciate the diversity of work that I do, and the range of people that I meet. I mentally note what I did well, and chalk down my mistakes to personal growth that I can learn from tomorrow. With a smile on my face and a tea-stain on my Batman pyjamas, I retire to the warmth and support of my bed, quietly curious for what tomorrow will bring.