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Meet our Indigenous program participants

Alex, Isobella, Stephen, Daniel


2015 Indigenous Graduate

I have a Juris Doctor, Bachelor of Arts and a Graduate Diploma of Legal Practice. I am also admitted to practise as a lawyer in Victoria.

Like for many others, landing at DFAT was something of a journey. I started my substantive working life at the Department of Defence, which was my first exposure to DFAT and the practical application of diplomacy and international relations. After a few years, I returned to Victoria to study and work in the legal sector, but I knew DFAT was where I wanted to be. I applied and was fortunate to join the 2015 Policy Graduate Program.

I currently work in the Malaysia, Brunei and Singapore Section, which is a diverse and fascinating patch. During the graduate program, I rotated through placements across bilateral, development, multilateral, corporate and trade desks. This broad exposure quickly familiarised me with the totality of the department's work. I have been lucky to learn from some extraordinary people from a variety of backgrounds, especially useful ahead of my first posting to Kuala Lumpur in 2019.

My time at DFAT has been rewarding, although not without its challenges. The work always requires energy, focus, dedication and often with high expectations attached. However, once you navigate the department's peculiarities and find your own working rhythm, there are significant benefits on offer. I always have engaging issues to work through and have represented the department in Australia and overseas.

I am a proud Melburnian, but Canberra is now unconditionally home – a small, but important distinction to make. Making a go of Canberra is a two-way street and unsurprisingly, the more effort you put into the city and diving into what Canberra has to offer, the more you will enjoy it.



2017 Indigenous Graduate

I started with DFAT having just been freshly admitted as a lawyer after graduating from the University of Queensland with a Bachelor of Laws/Business Management. The move to Canberra was one I was initially unsure about. I am and always will be a Queenslander at heart, so moving to Canberra mid-winter was a bit of a shock. However, I am now certain that joining DFAT has been the best career decision I could have made.

Looking at today's headlines, there is so much happening in the world – climate change, migration in Europe, the changing US political landscape and pressures on international security to name a few. I applied for DFAT in the hope that I could develop my world view and work on matters of national and global significance. I have not been disappointed. There is such a breadth of work here that you really don't see anywhere else. I'm currently in my first rotation of the Graduate Program working in Policy Planning. I am exposed to so many interesting policy areas. There is always something new to learn. DFAT also encourages you to rotate within the Department and this opportunity to try new things and expand my professional skills is very attractive.

I also cannot speak more highly of my colleagues – particularly my graduate cohort. They provide such a solid support network that I will hopefully keep throughout my career! Canberra is such a pleasant and well-planned city. I love the art galleries, plentiful restaurant options and I am constantly meeting interesting people from all over the world and other parts of Australia.



2016 Indigenous Trainee

I am originally from Ballina NSW. Although I have been lucky to live, travel and work throughout NSW, QLD, SA, WA and the NT, experiencing urban, regional and remote areas. Most recently, I was living in the remote Tiwi Islands in the NT working as an Employee Relations and WH&S Officer, spending my free time chasing barramundi.

I started my working life as an electrician. After travelling for a while I ended up working in community development, labour market programs and the recruitment/employment services industry. For the past 28 years I have worked in these areas across both the public and private sectors. I applied for the Indigenous Australian Government Development Program as I was looking for something different and did not mind starting over again. I needed new challenges and have always been interested in international issues, people and cultures. The opportunity to live and work overseas was a bonus for me, not a must.

My first rotation in DFAT was in the Diplomatic Academy. I am currently in the Pacific Division working on the Seasonal Worker Programme; which I am enjoying as it utilises some of my previously gained skills while now working on an international scale. I also enjoy knowing that I am making a difference in the lives of individuals, their families and their communities. I enjoy each day as it brings new challenges. The learning curve is steep, but well worth the effort.

Living in Canberra takes a bit of getting used to, as I am a salt water man. I miss the ocean and everything it brings both culturally and recreationally. I saw my first snow this year; for me that was amazing, as I had never lived south enough to enjoy it. If you don't mind getting out, there are many places to enjoy, for instance the rivers, forests and mountains.



2017 Indigenous Apprentice

I was born in Upper Ferntree Gully in the Dandenong Ranges but moved to central Victoria when I was very young. I studied and completed my VCE Year Twelve.

I have been in the Public Service for nearly five years. I first joined the Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP) in 2013 working for Translating Interpreting Service (TIS) in their call centre. I also had a few other roles within the department such as harassment contact officer (HCO), Chairman of the Indigenous Employee Network for Victoria (IEN) and I was a member for the Reconciliation Network (RAN). After three years my time ended at DIBP and a new adventure/opportunity came along; I started my new role working at the Australian Passport Office (APO) in the Melbourne Office with DFAT.

I have been working for APO for one year and ten months and have worked in a few different roles such as counter service, document preparation, in the support team and the travel document printing room. I heard from my manager that DFAT was about to conduct a new Indigenous Apprenticeships Programme (IAP) where staff can study and work for APO. I was offered a place as an Indigenous Apprentice and started this in November 2017. The best part of this Program is the amazing opportunity of becoming an ongoing officer at the completion of twelve months of training. I have enjoyed every aspect of working here in the Melbourne APO so far and I'm looking forward to the challenges over the next twelve months.

Last Updated: 17 January 2018
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