How the National Graduate Program works

Our National Graduate Program gives recent university graduates the opportunities to develop their career.

Applications are now closed for the 2020 National Graduate Program. Thanks to everyone who applied.

About the program

Our National Graduate Program offers unlimited opportunities.

When you join us you’ll help deliver more than $173 billion in payments. We offer a range of health, social and welfare payments and services through:

  • Centrelink
  • Medicare
  • Child Support.

We touch the lives of almost every Australian. We’re responsible for helping people meet life's challenges. We help when people have lost a job, a loved one or when they're separating from a partner.

You’ll get on the job training and professional development. You’ll have access to an SES mentor and get to participate in special events.


We offer 2 pathways into our graduate program – generalist and professional. Both pathways run for 10 months. They allow you to apply your academic education and build your skills and experience.

You can apply for both pathways, but you can only participate in 1 pathway. Once you start, you can't change pathways.

Generalist pathway

This pathway is for you if you don’t have a professional area where you’d like to work. Or if you have a degree that doesn’t match a professional pathway discipline.

You don’t need a specific degree to apply for this pathway.

Our generalist pathway has 2 placements, each lasting 5 months. This gives you the opportunity to work on diverse projects and learn how different areas operate.

We’ll place you in a role that matches your skills and experience.

In the generalist pathway, you could be asked to:

  • help implement national programs that support Australians
  • support major improvement initiatives for our customers
  • conduct integrity and fraud detection activities
  • provide support to Australians affected by national disasters
  • support major ICT, compliance, communication and service delivery projects
  • draft and coordinate Question Time, Senate Estimates and Ministerial briefs, speeches and presentations
  • support our Minister, Secretary and Senior Executives.
"Very early on in my grad year I went to Senate Estimates. I really enjoyed that because I had never been to Parliament House. You actually get to go behind the scenes. Then in small groups of 5-10 go into the room and watch the senators ask our Secretary and SES members questions.” - Amelia

Professional pathway

The professional pathway lets you focus your career in a particular discipline. We have 6 disciplines to choose from:

You must have a degree in 1 of these disciplines.

You’ll need a Weighted Average Mark (WAM) of 60 or above to apply for the legal discipline. If your WAM is below 60 you can apply for either the:

  • generalist pathway
  • another professional pathway if you have the appropriate degree.

You should have a thorough understanding of current issues and practices in the discipline you apply for.

In this pathway, we’ll place you in 1 of the disciplines for 10 months. This gives you the opportunity to develop specialty skills. If you have a special interest, you may be able to customise your placement.

We’ll place you in a role that matches your skills and experience.

Read more about who we’re looking for.

Development opportunities

You’ll receive formal and informal training and development opportunities to enhance your career opportunities. During the 10 month program, you’ll take part in a range of activities, including:

  • undertake an orientation of the department in Canberra when you first start
  • attend Australian Public Service Commission events
  • attend Senate Estimates
  • organise internal events
  • present to some of our SES staff
  • see the work of our frontline staff and the diverse communities we serve
  • undertake formal training specific to your work area.

These activities will help you:

  • get exposure to our business
  • strengthen your networking skills
  • develop your career and enhance your career opportunities
  • broaden your understanding of the Australian Public Service (APS) and Australian Parliamentary processes.

Outbound experience

You’ll see how the work you do makes a positive difference to the lives of Australians.

Over 3 days, you’ll work in a service centre or Smart Centre. You’ll experience the service delivery environment first hand. The outbound experience is unique to the graduate program.

At Naylor House, we met up with interstate grads, bringing our party to 8 – from Canberra, Melbourne and Perth. We were from all different parts of the organisation and for some, this was the first time meeting each other. Our lovely hosts – Jason, Lesley and Craig greeted us and so our outbound journey began. That first day was full on. Think the first 3 months we spent with the department, getting your head around the way everything works and smash it all into 1 day. We got some great insight as to how everything works. The diversity of responsibility that zone offices have, and came to appreciate just how much our department really does. The afternoon was really interesting with some ‘O’s (officers servicing specific cohorts) sharing some of their experiences and what’s it like at a delivery level.” - Courtney

Indigenous and multicultural placement

You can apply for a 3 month Indigenous and multicultural placement as part of the graduate program. It’s a unique opportunity to take part in a life changing experience. You’ll:

  • visit multicultural or remote Indigenous communities
  • gain a greater understanding of the issues these customers experience
  • learn about the complexities of service delivery in these areas.

If successful, you’ll spend 3 months in a location such as:

  • Alice Springs, Broome, Cairns or Darwin for the Indigenous placement
  • Sydney for the multicultural placement.
“Before we knew it our luggage was swept into a car and an impromptu tour began. Sightseeing Broome’s stunning coastline with a running commentary of phrases including “swim here”, “don’t swim here” and “nice food”. This tour, conducted by one of the Remote Servicing Team (RST) members in their own spare time, was a sign of things to come.” - Cameron

Support, buddies and an SES mentor

A graduate coordinator will work with you to make sure you have what you need to complete the program.

We’ll match you with a buddy before you start. This will be a graduate from a previous year. They’ll help you settle into our department and the Australian Public Service.

We’ll also team you up with an SES mentor. They’ll support and guide you with career and personal objectives.

Compulsory elements

As a graduate you’ll have to meet employment standards. For example probation and regular performance reviews. We’ll make sure you’re supported through these processes.


We offer 2 pay points for graduates. The pay point you’re eligible for depends on your qualification level.

If you’ve completed an undergraduate degree, from 27 May 2019 your salary will be $59,498. Recognised as Level 7 through the Australian Qualifications Framework.

If you’ve completed a double degree or have a higher qualification,from 27 May 2019 your salary will be $66,313. Recognised as Level 8 or above through the Australian Qualifications Framework.

After you complete the program, you’ll advance to an APS5 classification level within your relevant job stream. Your salary will be $73,959. Read more in our Enterprise Agreement.

Page last updated: 17 April 2019