Day in the Life Profile—Alex Webb
Former Graduate (2020)
Governance and Engagement, Digital Platforms and Online Safety Branch, Content Division, Communications and Media
My alarm goes off at 7:10 am. I reply to some messages at the very start of the day, get out of bed and get ready for work. On my way out the door, I make myself a cup of coffee and walk to the bus stop. It's a nice day today!
I hop on the bus to work. In the mornings I always listen to the ABC News headlines and scroll through other media articles. One of the benefits of living in Canberra is that it's a relatively easy commute to work compared to a lot of other major cities.
I typically get to work just before 9:00 am every day. The first thing I do when I get into work is say hello to my team and read the media clips that have come in overnight, particularly those relevant to my policy area. My team works across a range of topical issues related to online safety policy, so it's vital we stay up-to-date on the latest happenings as this space has the potential to change rapidly.
Although I get to work before 9:00 am most days, sometimes I arrive earlier or later. The department allows me to work anytime between 7:00 am and 7:00 pm, as long as I complete seven-and-a-half hours of work. This means work can fit easier around my schedule.
I plan my priorities for the day. While I have a number of key deliverables to achieve today, it's also likely my priorities could shift depending on which issues arise throughout the day.
At the moment, my team is work towards introducing a new Bill into parliament, so it's a particularly busy time for us! In particular, the Bill seeks to strengthen the current regulatory framework related to online safety, which will allow for stronger protections for many Australians experiencing online harms. This work is fascinating and, particularly at the moment, there are many different pieces of work in the team at any one time. Put simply, the work can be quite fast-paced!
My focus for this morning is to finalise drafting some written products related to the introduction of the new legislation into parliament, including drafting some of the public facing material such as media releases and talking points that could be used by the Minister.
The Department has also gone out for consultation on the Bill before it is introduced into parliament, so the team is also preparing itself for a tranche of submissions which are due to come through very soon. The submissions received so far have come from relevant civil society and private stakeholders, as well as members of the public who wish to comment on the Bill. A small group of us plan to get together in the afternoon to discuss our approach to analysing the substantial number of submissions we are anticipating.
While I have set my priorities for today, there's always the chance these priorities could shift as new issues arise related to online safety. My team is incredibly responsive to any requests it receives, so it's always important I remain flexible and assist in any capacity I can.
We have a team meeting at 10:00 am which gives everyone in our team an opportunity to check in with each other. Our team meetings help me to understand how my work fits into the team broader priorities and to also understand what everyone else has been working on.
It is also a great chance to update everyone on what I've been working on—such as work around the legislation and other briefing materials for the Minister—and what my upcoming commitments are—such as my Social Club responsibilities and my work associated with my Graduate Certificate in Public Administration, which other graduates are also completing.
The meeting has ended and I pick up my work again. My work for this part of the morning involves providing a final draft of a media release to my Director, which we are preparing for the Minister's Office. In this media release, I have sought to provide useful information for the public on the key features of the new legislation and how it seeks to protect Australians from emerging online harms.
I put the final touches on a media release and send it to my Director for review.
At midday, I eat lunch with some of the other graduates. Lunchtime is a great opportunity to socialise with some of the other graduates. Our cohort is a very supportive bunch, which makes it easy to share our experiences working with different teams.
Chatting to the graduates reminds me how many different areas there are across the department, each with their own unique challenges.
I make myself a coffee and settle in for the afternoon.
Before lunch I finished drafting the media release related to the Bill, so I'm now working on some business-as-usual drafting for the afternoon. In particular, these documents are Ministerial briefing related to an upcoming engagement the Minister has, as well as some correspondence that has come through the Department on a topical online safety matter.
My supervisor has been giving me a range of different, interesting tasks to help build my skills in writing skills for the public sector, such as Estimates briefing, drafting letters, and providing input into work across the government. These tasks have helped me to understand the complexities related to our policy area, and allowed me to understand how the work our team does fits into the broader work of the Australian Government.
A group of us who will be analysing submissions related to the Bill have called a small meeting to discuss how we plan to analyse the substantial number of submissions we are expecting. The plan we have come up with together is to collate key recommended changes arising from the submissions, which will be sent to the Minister for decision after the consultation period closes. We anticipate this will be a lot of work to turn around in a tight timeframe, however we have a great team culture in our branch and I trust we will all be able to work together to finalise our analysis of the submissions.
My work priorities have shifted as the team has received a briefing request on an online safety issue that has arisen in the past 24 hours. I spend some time with those senior within my branch discussing the issues that have arisen and undertaking some background research to assist the team to draft the brief. The research included searching what information was publicly available and looking at the government's previous position on the matter. At times, I asked for clarity on what specific information the brief required. My team has a very open and collaborative mindset, which makes asking questions or seeking clarification very easy.
It's time to wrap up for the day. I pack up my things and take a look at my calendar to see if I have any meetings the following morning. I also take stock of what needs to be done first thing the next day.
As it's a nice day, I've decided to walk home. My commute home involves walking across Lake Burley Griffin which is a great way to end the working day. On my way home, I Facetime my family back home.
At 7:00 pm I head off to The Duxton—a pub in O'Connor—for trivia. Our trivia team is mostly comprised of graduates, although other friends often tag along. My friends have a range of diverse interests, perfect for a good trivia team.