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ACT Public Service

  • 1,000 - 50,000 employees

About ACT Public Service

  • Government & Public Service

What it does: Education, health, local council and municipal services and jurisdictional functions for the Canberra community and the rest of the Australian Capital Territory (ACT).
Best known for: The ACT Government has jurisdiction over Canberra, the capital city of Australia.
Staff stats: More than 20,000 employees.
The good bits: An inclusive recruitment process screens the job candidate based on diversity, equity and merit guidelines. The ACT Government offers a graduate program and 27 career interest opportunities.
The not so good bits: It can be difficult to land a job interview. Some candidates had to apply multiple times to receive a job offer, and these people already have years of experience in their fields of study.

The Australian Capital Territory (ACT) Government story

The ACT Government became a self-governing executive authority in 1989 with limited legislative independence, unlike state governments in Australia based on the country’s constitution. The ACT Government provides jurisdictional and local public services through nine directorates: Chief Minister, Treasury and Economic Development; Community Services; Education; Environment, Planning and Sustainable Development; Canberra Hospital and Health Services; ACT Health; Justice and Community Safety; Major Projects Canberra and Transport Canberra and City Services.

The recruitment process

The ACT Public Service (ACTPS) Shared Services unit oversees the government’s general recruitment. The ACTPS typically hires individuals within 40 working days from publishing a vacancy to presenting a job offer for the selected candidate. Applicants must comply with minimum eligibility requirements for part-time and full-time roles.

Australian citizens and permanent residents can join the ACT Government as temporary or permanent employees. Individuals with a valid work visa can only apply for temporary roles. 

Note that a New Zealand citizen who resides in Australia and holds a Special Category temporary residence visa (SCV) under the Commonwealth Migration Act 1958 is treated as a permanent resident of Australia for the purpose of assessing that person's eligibility to be employed by the ACTPS but does not affect a person's residency status in relation to any other federal, state or territory law. 

A selection committee comprising three people screens the applications. Shortlisted candidates will then need to pass a series of tests and interviews. Graduates should anticipate behavioural or evidence-based questions, practical exercises (eg aptitude test, situational role-plays, written exams). Evidence-based questions usually aim to gather concrete and specific information about a candidate and usually start with the following phrases:

  • Describe a time when you…
  • How did you…
  • Give a recent example of…

Career prospects

The ACTPS Graduate Program offers seven streams across the following professional fields: 

  • Sustainability and Environment, Town Planning, Urban Planning, Architecture including Landscape Architecture, law with an interest in commercial contracts, Engineering and Surveying;
  • Social Work, Psychology, Child Psychology, Social Welfare, Social Science, Human Services;
  • Communications and Engagement, Digital and social media, Web Design, Marketing, PR, Public Policy;
  • Law, Legal studies combined with Commerce, Public Policy, Public Administration;
  • Economics, Data & Informatics, Statistics, Mathematics, Costing Analysis, Earth science;
  • ICT, ICT Engineering, ICT Security, Application Support, ICT Infrastructure Management, ICT Project Management, Computer Science, ICT innovation and Design; and
  • Finance, Accounting, Business Analysis, Project Management, Business Administration, Human Resources, Industrial Relations, Legal Studies with Commerce, and Law with exposure to Industrial Relations.

Individuals seeking roles in allied health and teaching can apply for specific programs separately through the relevant directorate. 

The ACTPS Graduate Program provides graduates with a full-time position for ten months. ACTPS Graduates are placed in an ACTPS directorate where they begin the program in their first workplace rotation. Graduates may move outside that directorate in their second rotation and return to the same directorate, though to a different role, in their third and final rotation. When ACTPS Graduates accept a position in the program, they accept a specific job offer from the work area that hosts their first rotation. On successful completion of the program, graduates return to that same work area as permanent employees and receive a promotion to the ASO 5 (or equivalent) classification.  

Students who are in their final year of studies can apply to join the ACTPS Graduate Program. When applying for the program, applicants can select two streams relevant to their qualifications to be considered for, despite being qualified for multiple roles. Be prepared for tight competition.


The 2021 ACT Public Service Graduate Program offers a starting salary of $73,248 per annum plus superannuation. On successful completion of the program, graduates are promoted to an ASO5 (or equivalent) Classification on a salary of $82,506 per annum plus superannuation.

ACTPS employees are entitled to various types of leave including four weeks of annual leave and 3.6 weeks of personal leave per annum. Employees can also use compassionate, Defence reserve, community service, maternity, bonding and parental leave.

Under ACTPS Enterprise Agreements, graduates may be eligible to receive reimbursement for reasonable costs associated with relocating to the ACT. For further information take a look at the Agreement or speak with the ACTPS Graduate Program Manager about reasonable relocation costs and what is required to access this entitlement  

The culture

Flexible work hours and a healthy work-life balance come to mind when people describe the workplace culture at the ACT Government. The different kinds of leave benefits contribute to the positive sentiment. Bureaucracy can be an issue, although this is noticeable in any type of government.

The ACT Government strives to be a competitive employer through an inclusive workplace, which aims to eliminate discrimination against Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, people living with a disability, veterans and LGBTIQ employees. The diverse workplace means that employees improve their social skills and are able to work with people from different backgrounds.

Social contributions

The ACT Government supports a broad range of community services focusing on family, housing, indigenous groups, multicultural, senior citizens, veterans, women and children, and youth advocacies.

The vibe of the place

Graduates and students must carefully examine their qualifications and match them against their desired role at the ACT Government. The recruitment process may be inclusive, but the tedious steps ensure that only the most qualified become an ACTPS employee. Selected candidates will need to be flexible and efficient in juggling tasks. Job rotations in three workplace areas at the ACT Government will compel them to do so, and those who clearly understand the job’s demands will be in a better position to succeed in their role.


From the employer:

About us – what we do

Working for our city-state is your chance to contribute to a value-led organisation in a range of policy, programs and front-line services. The ACT Public Service is unique in the Australian context. We handle both state and municipal responsibilities meaning that you will be close to decision-makers, ministers and the ACT community.

The ACTPS Graduate Program offers a challenging and rewarding graduate experience. With three rotations across two directorates and a comprehensive learning and development program, our 10-month program will provide you with the foundations and networks to kickstart your career with the ACTPS.

As an ACTPS Graduate you will receive competitive remuneration and entitlements. The ACTPS is a unique public service that provides an environment to promote your skills, abilities and professional growth and offers a workplace culture where diversity and innovation are celebrated.

Find out more about the opportunities available in the ACTPS Graduate Program and check whether you meet our eligibility requirements. 

The ACT Public Service is committed to building a culturally diverse and inclusive workforce. We believe we can provide better services to the ACT community if our Service is a true reflection of the community that it serves. As part of this commitment, some of the positions within the 2021 Graduate Program are identified to be filled with people from an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander background and people living with a disability. Our program aims to support both Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and people living with a disability through a dedicated inclusion team and ongoing support and guidance throughout the graduate year.

Opportunities – what we offer students

The ACTPS Graduate Program will provide you with: 

  • three work rotations giving you the opportunity to undertake interesting, challenging work and gain experience working in diverse roles;
  • a closer connection to the community you live in and the chance to see your work directly shape outcomes for the ACT community;
  • a competitive remuneration package and supportive, flexible working arrangements that will help you enjoy a healthy work-life balance;
  • a comprehensive learning and development program, including exposure to senior leaders, that will give you the tools to succeed as an ACT Public Servant; and
  • promotion upon successful completion of the ten-month graduate program.

Graduate Reviews

Overall Score
Overall score based on 35 reviews
They Score Best in…
Work Hours
Work Hours
What Graduates Say About Them
  • The ability to make a direct impact.
  • Amazing working environment, good ethics and great colleagues.
  • Career development opportunities, investment in training, salary, location.
  • Extremely flexible, it is one of the greatest benefits of working for the ACTPS.
  • The ACTPS is a very friendly and accepting work environment. The work is interesting, meaningful and diverse. Because it’s a small jurisdiction there are lots of opportunities to try new things.
  • Frustrating bureaucracy and processes.
  • Resource constraints.
  • Office conditions variable. Some buildings are new, some have old low quality facilities.
  • The amount of procedures that can control daily work tasks.
  • I have found most managers are quite good although my area doesn’t provide sufficient training for first-time managers who have been promoted.

Jobs & Opportunities

Locations With Jobs & Opportunities
  • Canberra
Hiring candidates with qualifications in
Business & Management
Creative Arts
Engineering & Mathematics
Food, Hospitality & Personal Services
Humanities, Arts & Social Sciences
IT & Computer Science
Law, Legal Studies & Justice
Medical & Health Sciences
Property & Built Environment