Mellanie's graduate story: disability pathway, generalist stream

When Mellanie first saw the disability pathway, she was worried she wouldn’t be eligible. But after applying she found the pathway provided support for people with all disabilities, as well as guidance she was able to apply directly to her work.

Image of female graduate with pink background behind her

Pronouns: She/her/hers
Studied: Bachelor of Arts (English, Sociology and History)
Stream: Generalist
Pathway: Disability
Home department: Department of Energy, Environment and Climate Action (DEECA)

About me

After travelling the world, I came home to finish my studies and decided that my small country town wasn’t allowing me to reach my full potential. So, I packed my bags and moved to Melbourne to pursue full-time study and I’ve been here ever since.

I completed my Bachelor of Arts with 3 majors: English, Sociology and History. I chose to pursue humanities because I’m motivated by ethical problems and systems of thought that help me understand and interpret the world as it is today.

I want to keep going up in my career and climb the ladder towards the top (maybe I’ll be a Deputy Secretary someday)! I also want to start my own small tattoo studio when I have the time.

What ‘Working with purpose’ means to me

I believe work with purpose is focusing on your intentions and working towards an idea or goal.

Why I applied

I wanted work with purpose. I saw this as an opportunity to contribute with my knowledge in humanities and with that confidence prior to applying, I knew I could succeed in the program.

My experience with the disability pathway

My disability is new to me so, when I found the disability pathway, I wasn’t sure if I qualified or if I’d fit what a disabled employee was expected to be. However, when I applied it was no questions asked, which made the whole process a lot easier.

The disability pathway has been amazing. We meet with the graduate team each month. We listen to other people in the disability space and learn about how to have potentially uncomfortable conversations with your manager about workplace adjustments. Having access to that knowledge and being able to apply that into my own work and my own conversations with managers has been so valuable.

Where I worked

My 3 rotations were:

  • Department of Energy, Environment and Climate Action (DEECA)
  • Department of Jobs, Skills, Industry and Regions (DJSIR)
  • Department of Education (DE)

In my grad year, I’ve worked in the Office of the Executive Director in the Sports and Recreation branch and provided event management support for a Government House reception to thank sport volunteers for their efforts during the COVID-19 pandemic.

I’ve also worked on an Aboriginal Leadership Development Program and supported the Early Childhood Strategy team in expanding their ‘Best Start, Best Life’ program.

Tell us about hybrid working

I thought I’d be expected to be in the office Monday to Friday, 9 AM to 5 PM and in a suit and tie! I also thought there wouldn’t be wiggle room for adjustments.

However, hybrid working has been really beneficial as I’ve managed to improve my work-life balance. I’ve noticed that I have more efficient use of time and more control over the hours I work throughout the day. It also helps when managers are flexible and can adapt to your work-from-home schedule.

Despite my expectations, my managers have accommodated my workplace adjustments. My teams in each rotation have been lovely and I’m not expected to wear a suit (not all the time at least!)

Overall experience

My proudest achievement is having the opportunity to raise the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander flags for the NAIDOC celebrations outside Treasury Place. It felt so empowering and really made me feel connected with other Victorian Public Service (VPS) employees who identify with me.

I’ve also thoroughly enjoyed the coffee catchups with other graduates and building my professional network.

Advice for future applicants

Don’t start your rotations with predetermined ideas about the role as that might obstruct your ability to learn new concepts and skills. If your new role has elements of work or study you’ve undertaken before, don’t assume your tasks will be the same each time.

The beauty of the program (for me at least) is to expect the unexpected and go with the flow. If something doesn’t go as planned, your colleagues will be super supportive and help you to learn from any mistakes.

My advice to any graduates considering applying through the disability pathway is to remember, that there’s no wrong way of being disabled. The VPS has been very accommodating to all disabilities.