DHHS supports career pathways for university students with disability

Three colleagues in an office seated at a table discussing paperwork.

Image (left to right): A colleague with intern Nikola and her supervisor, Vladimir.

After a highly positive internship experience at the Victorian Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), Nikola Guzys-McAuliffe is eager to stay with the department to pursue her graduate career.

“My experience has been overwhelmingly positive. I’ve learned so much about the department and government more broadly,” she said.

“Now I have a better understanding of how I can manage work with my disability. Since undertaking the internship, I have applied for next year’s graduate program.”

Nikola secured her internship role at DHHS through the Australian Network on Disability’s Stepping Into program. A national initiative that connects employers to talented university students with disability, the program offers interns a chance to kick-start their career and build their professional network through 152 hours of work experience.

As part of the Human Services Priority Projects team, Nikola gained valuable experience within the department’s Strategy and Planning division.

“I engage with my team on their current projects, contribute to brainstorming sessions, collate data, do research for projects and present insights. This has been a very practical experience and has helped me understand the role of project officers in the division,” she said.

“The Stepping Into program has made me more confident about life after uni.”

Vladimir Popov, Nikola’s supervisor says she has brought fantastic energy and enthusiasm to her work and their branch.

“She has jumped at the chance to take on challenging policy work and has made a very valuable contribution in such a short period of time.”

A program that helps launch careers, a recent study by the Australian Network on Disability showed that four months after graduating 80% of students who’d completed a Stepping Into internship had gained employment, while only 58% of students had gained employment who hadn’t completed an internship.

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