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Real Business : Autumn 2008
14 REAL BUSINESS AUTUMN 2008 DAVID HANNAH 2008 means being both proactive and reactive, agile and adaptable. The vast length and breadth of the public sector, traversing federal or state departments, through to local government or working for a government business, presents more opportunities than can be found in any private sector employer, topped off with great employment condi- tions and regular training. There's also plenty of jobs up for grabs. In finance and accou nting, govern ment agencies in every Australian state and territory are reporting skills shortages at all levels, from entry level (APS3) to senior management level (EL2), according to Clare Page, who heads the Better Services initiative for the Australian Public Service Commission (APS). The Australian Public Ser vice (APS) recently ran a recruitment drive iNdUsTry profile: pUBLIc SEctoR As part of the year-long Victorian Public Service Graduate Recruitment program, Adriana Parisi ASA is effectively just starting out in public sector accounting, but her tasks to date lend her an "action woman" persona. When asked what she's been up to lately, Parisi can site several achievements. These include assisting the CFO's team to prepare and submit business cases to the Department of Justice for a range of important initiatives, such as the request and approval of 350 extra police who are now making the streets safer, the implementation of new facial recognition technology, improved weapons and equipment for police officers and an increase in the number of marked police cars ... to name just some. Parisi, 24, has been involved in reviewing the final business cases for each of these initiatives to assess their priority and funding. She's also participated in compliance audits for police departments and stations, met Victoria Police Commissioner Christine Nixon, and even once observed a police shift. "I've enjoyed it so much, I've changed my career path," admits the graduate of RMIT University. Parisi now has her sights set on a career in forensic accounting. The graduate program helped her to sift her options. It has taken her through other government departments, including Treasury and Finance, where she analysed year-end financial statements and worked on enterprise bargaining agreements, and the Department of Human Services where she worked on a budget for youth justice. From the inside looking out, Parisi says: "With everyone vying for one pool of funds, you really get to see the importance of finance and accounting to making things happen in the public sector. In policy roles, you help create change -- it's exciting -- and the role of the finance professional isn't necessarily traditional with the ultimate destination being the CFO." Her advice for those considering going public? "The opportunities are endless, make the most of them." n specifically for accountancy and finance roles. Sixteen APS agencies participated in the recruitment round, which aimed to fill about 260 accounting and finance positions. "Since then we have been contacted by many more agencies interested in taking part," Page says, adding that the skills and capabilities required by each agency are "very diverse". The NSW public sector is also taking a whole-of-government approach to finance recruitment. Rose Williams is senior director, corporate manage- ment, with the NSW Treasury, and chairperson of the NSW Public Sector Accountancy Skills Shortage Strategy Group, whose task is to attract and retain finance professionals. "It is essential that the public service attracts high-calibre accountants to work for us," she says, "particularly given the emphasis on improving financial management." ➔ ADRIANA PARISI ASA VICTORIA POLICE nnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnn nnnnnnnnnnnnnnnn