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Thinking of a career in the Australian Public Service?

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Three people face the camera. At left is a young man in blue shirt, in the middle is a young woman with long braided hair wearing a yellow shirt and at right is a young man in striped shirt with a chess board in front of him.
From left: Benjamin Atkinson, Tiarna Williams and Elijah Foster-Britton.
28 Oct 2019

Deciding on a career was made a little easier last week for more than 60 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Year 10, 11 and 12 students.

They were part of the 6 day annual Work Exposure in Government (WEX) program held in Canberra.

WEX provides career advice to the students and exposes them to different career opportunities in the Australian Public Service (APS).

Supported by the National Indigenous Australians Agency, the students came from every state and territory in Australia except the ACT.

Tiarna Williams from Pymble Ladies’ College in Sydney said WEX 2019 exceeded her expectations.

‘Just the variety of roles and opportunities that are provided to Indigenous Australians and the amount of opportunities we can have to make a difference,’ she said.

The students visited the Tent Embassy, the Museum of Australian Democracy and other important Canberra institutions such as the National Museum of Australia and Australian War Memorial.

They learned about career options at the Australian Defence Force Academy and the Australian Federal Police.

The students spent a full day at the Australian Parliament House where they observed Question Time and met with various members of parliament including Aboriginal Member for Barton, NSW, the Honourable Linda Burney MP.

Some met with the Minister for Indigenous Australians, the Honourable Ken Wyatt MP and all of them were photographed with the Prime Minister, the Honourable Scott Morrison MP.

‘My favourite part was attending Parliament House and experiencing how far Indigenous Australians have come but also how much further we have to go, and that really inspired me to make a difference and continue to strive with my goals,’ Tiarna said.

Elijah Foster-Britton (15) from Karabar High School in Queanbeyan, NSW said he wants to work in graphic design.

‘My favourite part of WEX was going to the AFP and also going to the careers expo and walking around all the agencies, learning information about government jobs,’ he said.

The careers expo was one of the final events of the week. Nineteen Australian Government departments and agencies set up stalls where students could access printed information and ask questions about career pathways within those organisations.

Benjamin Atkinson (16) from Warners Bay High School in Lake Macquarie, NSW said he’s been looking at environmental sustainability in management in the public service.

‘So working probably to conserve Aboriginal land, if not just Aboriginal environments along with national parks and maintaining the sustainability of Australia’s environment.’

However, WEX is more than a chance to investigate career options within the APS. Relationships are formed, networks initiated and confidence grows as students learn from each other and their mentors.

Benjamin said he was inspired by WEX Cultural Advisor Uncle Benny Hodges and his WEX mentor Anthony Dewis.

‘They’ve really inspired me to become a better person and to look out for others; as Benny would say, “I’ve always got your back” and everyone should always do that.’

And of course, the students learn a bit more about themselves and that the future is in their hands.

‘I learned that I can pretty much do any job that I’d like to do if I work hard enough,’ Elijah said.

Applications for WEX 2020 open mid-year.

Find out more

WEX is supported by the National Indigenous Australians Agency through the Indigenous Advancement Strategy.

Read more at Work Exposure in Government (WEX).

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