Government, policy and research

Working in government, policy and research, you’ll have the opportunity to work on projects that impact large groups of people. You’ll need to be able to navigate organisational and governmental frameworks and take a structured approach to community issues.

Policy

If you have an understanding of the issues facing a certain sector, a role in policy could be for you. You’ll advise governments or organisations on policy development and act as an advocate for the relevant sector.

Your future role

Roles can vary, depending on the organisation. Policy roles tend to require some experience in and knowledge of the issues facing the relevant sector. As a policy officer your tasks may include:

  • advising government and organisations on policies and programs to improve responses and outcomes
  • working closely with the relevant sector to make sure it can actively and effectively represent and advocate
  • developing and implementing policies, projects and strategies
  • researching and preparing policy advice and information for senior management and agencies
  • representing your organisation at meetings, both internally and externally
  • identifying funding opportunities and writing funding submissions
  • drafting media releases
  • ensuring that your organisation is informed on relevant issues in the sector
  • developing and maintaining relationships and partnerships with agencies and government departments
  • researching and developing reports.

Skills and experience

The skills and experience that will help get you started in this role include:

  • excellent communication and English language skills, both written and verbal
  • ability to adhere to established writing standards and documentation development processes
  • well-developed consulting, facilitation, negotiation and presentation skills
  • ability to conduct surveys and manage research projects
  • ability to coordinate, research and write content for a variety of audiences
  • a willingness to promote policy reforms to a range of audiences
  • ability to manage multiple tasks, projects and deadlines at any given time.

Qualifications and requirements

For this role you'll need qualifications and requirements that include:

  • undergraduate qualifications in psychology or a related field
  • postgraduate course in policy, applied social research, public health or similar
  • short course in writing policies and procedures.

Employers

Employers in this area vary widely, but could include government departments, local councils or peak bodies in the community sector. Examples include:

Social research

As a social researcher, you’ll design and implement research projects with the goal of improving outcomes for the community.

Your future role

Social research is generally academic, and has a long-term goal of benefiting the community. Some positions require applicants to have an honours degree in psychology; others require a minimum of an undergraduate degree in psychology or a relevant field. Specific tasks may include:

  • recruiting research participants and liaising with these participants in a range of settings, including hospitals, clinics etc.
  • applying research techniques to gather information, including document analysis, surveys, case studies and interviews
  • using quantitative and/or qualitative methodologies to design and manage research projects
  • developing, implementing and evaluating research projects within a specific team or organisation
  • presenting research findings both verbally and in written formats.

Skills and experience

The skills and experience that will help get you started in this role include:

  • ability to gather and synthesise data
  • clear and effective writing skills in a range of styles, including progress reports, published documents and presentations
  • effective time management and project management skills, including the ability to summarise, document and reflect on progress
  • ability to show initiative, work independently and be self-reliant
  • good critical thinking and reasoning skills, including the ability to develop theoretical concepts
  • ability to develop and maintain cooperative networks and working relationships.

Qualifications and requirements

For this role you'll need qualifications and requirements that include:

  • undergraduate qualifications in marketing, psychology, human resources, business or economics
  • experience in using SPSS (Statistical Packaging for the Social Sciences) or similar
  • experience in both qualitative and quantitative research.

Employers

There are many employers in this area, both in the public and private sectors. Social research assistants are often needed to work on projects within university and hospital settings as well as other organisations, including local government, not-for-profits and private companies. Possible employers might include: