Things I learnt working for the Government

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So, a couple of weeks ago I finished working for the Queensland Government. Most of my ten years within Government was spent working within the Department that provides Child Safety, Youth Justice and Community services, though I did do a stint in Health as well. Ten years is a long time so I thought I would take the time to reflect on my time within Government and some of the amazing people I met and things I did. I will go through some of the things I have been involved in first to give context, then talk about some of the amazing people I worked with.

Disclaimer

The following is my personal account and reflection based on the experiences I had within the Queensland Government. Because of this anything within this post may be inaccurate at the time of reading as it is based on my own personal experience. Nothing within this post has been endorsed or influenced by the Queensland Government.

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My Role

My role within the Government evolved over time, but primarily I planned and designed IT infrastructure and systems across various projects within the Department. This allowed me to work across many different Government services particularly within the social welfare sector. Looking back, I realise just how broad my experiences have been across both technology and business subject matter. Apart from the obvious Solution Architecture experience, below are the broad highlights.

Cloud Services

The last few years I’ve had to deep dive into the breadth of cloud services, primarily Azure with a sprinkling of AWS and Google Cloud. The breath of technology and the possibilities are amazing considering the price of most services. I’ve learned a lot and continue to experiment with these services, which I need to write about more on this site.

Prototyping

I have never really had the patience/drive to do development work until fairly recently and a lot of this new found interest stems from prototyping opportunities that came my way. These short engagements for a small number of clients to provide some capability really got me interested in programming and experimenting with development.

Identity and Access Management

This subject has been an underlying theme for so long now it is almost becoming muscle memory. I’ve learnt a lot from identity verification and authentication levels, authentication mechanisms and protocols, identity synchronisation techniques, person matching and more. It’s one of those subjects that’s has a lot of hidden depth to it.

Documents and Records Management

A subject that drove me absolutely nuts at times that I have some very strong opinions about, documents and records management is another subject that has a lot of hidden depth. My belief that records management should remain hidden / transparent to most users still holds strong however.

Patterns and Practices

The fundamental component to the majority of the work I have done boils down to the patterns and practices to implement the most appropriate solutions. From architectural, to design, development and integration patterns, most problems can be broken down into solutions that implement patterns. It’s probably the key constant across everything I’ve done.

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Government Services

Apart from the technical / technologies I learned and worked with, I also had the opportunity to work with different Government services. One of the upsides to my role is a get to explore non-IT subjects and working for the Government has let me see a broad gamut of them.

Child Safety and Youth Justice

In combination with learning about cloud services I’ve also had to deep dive into child safety and youth justice at the same time. It has been an amazing experience with amazing people (see below). The support and services provided to families and young people in some tough situations by itself is mind boggling, even if you take away the complex case work that is layered above it. The stories that come out of these two areas are both uplifting and soul destroying. Having a strong working knowledge of child safety practices and the journey young people take through the youth justice system is not something I ever thought I would dive into. Both of these areas are undertaking an immense reform activity and I can only hope I have helped lay some the technical foundations for a successful reform.

Medical Oncology

I spent over a year managing a medical oncology application which was really amazing. I got to work with doctors, nurses and pharmacists who used the application to manage the treatments pathways of their cancer patients as they go through chemotherapy. Most people, myself included, have had cancer touch their lives in some way. To get an insight into the treatment process, as well as the people who provide care and support, has been one of the highlights of my life. In a similar way to working in child safety and youth justice, the stories have been both uplifting and soul destroying.

Multi-Agency

I’ve also had the opportunity to work within a multi-agency / cross departmental group progressing cross agency identity management. This was definitely challenging and I had to come to grips with other Departmental drivers as well as being a lot more social, not something I’m overly great at. Multi-agency groups have a very difficult job, trying to walk a knife-edge between the needs of different departments.

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The People

Now the good bit. I’m not going to name names in this section, most of what I have to say here I have said to people directly so if they ever read this it won’t be news to them. I’m also going to speak in generalisations because most of the people I have had the pleasure to work with have helped me learn, grow and benefit from their individual experience.

IT and Corporate Staff

Without the other IT and corporate staff around me there would have been no way I achieved what I have at the Department. Almost everything I did as a Solution Architect required collaborating with IT and Corporate staff to help design the right solution that they would then implement. All the staff I worked with were helpful, resourceful and knowledgeable. I learned a lot from all of them, even if they weren’t confident in their own abilities (you know who you are). Like most of the department, they are preparing for a pretty big change. What I would say to them is embrace it, I believe it can be something good.

Child Safety Officers

I’ve known and worked with a number of Child Safety officers over the years. They are compassionate and amazing at what they do, helping children and families get through some pretty rough situations. They also have the same weird sense of humour I have which helps too. It has always been a pleasure working with them and, as an IT person, I have learned so much from them that I can only hope I’ve helped improve the way that they work. There are more big changes coming for them, and initially it will probably be a rough road, but I believe the change will help them do what they do best, focus on positive outcomes for children.

Youth Justice Officers

I’ve also had the pleasure of working with a number of Youth Justice officers, and detention centre staff, as well and many of the things I’ve said about Child Safety Officers applies here to. You are not, for me at least, the “forgotten people” behind Child Safety. I admire the fact there is a group of people willing to be advocates for young people as they progress through the justice system. For myself (and my wife), it has changed the way I view young people who, in many cases, are a result of their environments. There is upheaval for them at the moment, and further change is coming, but I think the final outcome will improve things.

Oncology Doctors, Nurses and Pharmacists

Like I have said previously, the people who support patients going through cancer treatments were amazing. Their strength and their passion for helping others going through something so terrible was such a great thing to be around, even if it was for just a short while. How they can be a stable and strong presence to people, especially those who work with children, still amazes me to this day.

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That’s it from me

So that wraps up the end of ten-year career within the Queensland Government. I can’t repeat enough how much of a good experience it has been for me and how great the people were. Because University has also wrapped up for me at the same time, I’m having a bit of a break now, spending time with family and working on my own projects for a little while before coming back and looking for that next adventure. I’m going to revamp this site a little and work on some more technical articles that have been sitting drafted for a while in the meantime, I hope they are valuable to others.


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