Information about working in the Office of the Governor.

The Office of the Governor provides advice and support to the Governor of Victoria, the Hon. Linda Dessau AC, and her husband Mr Anthony Howard AM, QC. It supports constitutional and ceremonial duties, manages an extensive program of engagements and visits for the Governor at Government House, throughout Victoria and overseas, and undertakes various works at Government House. 

Job opportunities for the Office of the Governor, a Victorian Public Service employer, are advertised on the Victorian Government Jobs and Skills Exchange, the Victorian Government Careers Website, and on Seek.

Aide to the Governor

One role that comes up regularly is that of Aide to the Governor. Aides to the Governor of Victoria work closely with the Governor and Mr Howard for a one or two year term, assisting them in carrying out a wide and varied program. Their duties include research, writing, and briefing, attending the Governor and Mr Howard at official engagements, managing functions at Government House, and working with communities and organisations to plan events the Governor and Mr Howard will attend.

When vacancies arise, the position of Aide to the Governor is advertised on the sites listed above, and recruitment is conducted in accordance with the Victorian Government’s Public Sector Employment Principles. Between vacancies, interested candidates are always welcome to make contact with the Office of the Governor to express interest in the role of Aide, and to request to be notified when a vacancy arises. A curriculum vitae with a covering letter can be sent to info@govhouse.vic.gov.au.

Aides to the Governor have come from a wide variety of professional disciplines and have gone on to continue their careers in an equally wide-ranging number of fields. Some previous Aides to Governors of Victoria are profiled below.

 

Angus Trumble (1987 – 1991)
Arts Administration

My name is Angus Trumble, and it was my great good fortune to have served the Governor of Victoria as an Aide between 1987 and 1991. In those days there were only two of us in that job, and Naomi Miller and I were the first two Aides who were not reserve officers in the armed services. When I began I was not yet 24 years old. I had completed a Master of Arts degree in Fine Arts and there was nothing in my background that necessarily pointed me in the direction of Government House.

Nor did Government House lead me directly or even indirectly onto my subsequent, somewhat winding path: as a Fulbright Scholar at the Institute of Fine Arts at New York University (1994–95); as Associate Curator, then Curator, of European Art at the Art Gallery of South Australia in Adelaide (1996–2001); as Curator, then Senior Curator, of European Art at the Yale Center for British Art in New Haven, Connecticut (2003–14); as Director of the National Portrait Gallery in Canberra (2014–19), and currently as Senior Research Fellow in Australian History at the National Museum of Australia, and as an author more generally.

I can say with total conviction, however, that not a day goes by when I do not draw upon the unique experience of having served as an Aide to the Governor, however briefly, all those years ago. There are some tangibles, but mostly there are intangibles. The tangibles: As Aides, Naomi and I developed a superb working partnership, one against which for me all others have since been measured. Working at Government House was a bit like climbing a lamppost and being given a vista, a tour d’horizon, that extended into every corner of the State, the polity, the local economy, the city, and the whole community—corners commercial, social and political that, in my case, I hardly knew existed and would never have observed otherwise. It also took you into the beating heart of state and local government, which you were able to see working, day by day.

However, it’s mostly the intangibles that were for me formative. Government House taught me punctuality and courtesy and accuracy. It taught me effective communication; you heard a lot of speeches, and quickly learned by example how to craft a really good one. It taught me how to apply immediate ‘conversational first aid’ in at times faltering social situations of every possible description, and to be able to see when this was needed and, equally importantly, to know when it wasn’t. It taught me that there is no such thing as a boring person, and that one or two carefully framed questions are all you need to break the ice. It taught me the best sort of fearlessness; it cured me of stage fright. But it also taught me, when necessary, how to become invisible. My duties led me to meet monarchs, popes, governors-general, presidents, prime ministers, numerous foreign ambassadors and, most memorably, the great French composer Olivier Messaien.

Paul Woods (1998 – 1999)
Lawyer 

I had the honour of being the Aide to Sir James Gobbo AC, CVO when he was Governor of Victoria.  I was in the role between 1998 and 1999.

Prior to coming to Government House, I studied at Monash University and had qualified as a lawyer.  I took leave of absence from my firm to accept the role.  I loved the job as Aide, and stayed six months longer than I had originally planned to. 

The benefits of serving as an Aide differ from person to person. The skills learned and experiences gained in my time as an Aide to the Governor are too numerous to list.   But for me, perhaps the greatest skills learned were planning and organisation – what might these days be referred to as ‘project management’.  An Aide is invested with genuine responsibility.  The Governor’s official duties are numerous.  Every day, every attendance, requires careful planning.  I was responsible for ensuring that the Governor’s attendance at official engagements were planned in detail.  I worked with the Governor and the Official Secretary to understand His Excellency’s priorities, and it was then for me to produce and implement the plan.  On official visits to Victorian municipalities, I commenced work weeks ahead of time, meeting local Councillors, community leaders and business people, understanding the local area and meeting the community groups whom the Governor would meet and whose work he would acknowledge and celebrate.

I was privileged to prepare speeches for the Governor to deliver on official occasions, and through that I honed my research and writing skills. 

I helped to organise and manage the Governor’s hosting of functions of critical importance to the State, such as bravery award ceremonies, charity launches, Order of Australia investitures, domestic and international trade delegations, and even visits by Royalty and Heads of State.  I have very fond memories of personal meetings with the President of Ireland, a former President of the USA, and current and retired Governors-General and Prime Ministers of Australia, in my time at Government House.  I learned to be decisive and effective on those occasions.  I honed my conversation skills.  I developed confidence in myself.  I developed and deepened my understanding of the Victorian and Australian political system, and how the Office of the Governor promotes commerce and community spirit in Victoria.

Since my time at Government House, I have returned to practising law, a career that has taken me around the world.  I lived and worked in London for two years.  Since returning to Melbourne with my young family in 2005, I have worked on commercial disputes in all Australian States and Territories, and in South East Asia.  I have served on the board at my children’s’ school, and am on the Australian board of an international charity.  I remember my time at Government House with great fondness – and my experiences and memories there are always front of mind, even 20 years after I left my role as Aide.  The skills I learned there continue to help me in my professional and personal life.  

Simon Newnham (1999 – 2000)
International Relations and Diplomacy

Before joining Government House I was a solicitor at a Melbourne law firm. I had finished my degree in 1997, travelled around Australia and internationally in 1998 and completed my Articles of Clerkship at the firm in 1999. At that stage, I had no interest in leaving the firm, my first ever grown-up, full-time job. And I had never heard about the role of an Aide to the Governor of Victoria. But a friend of mine had been employed as an Aide, told me they had a vacancy and recommended I apply. Things went my way and I secured the role, starting in August 1999.

I joined the Office of the Governor for a one year term, working as an Aide for the then Governor of Victoria, Sir James Gobbo AC, CVO QC. It was an amazing year and remains one of the highlights of my professional career. It gave me insights into the major public policy, economic and trade interests and community issues faced by the State of Victoria. It made me aware of the array of wonderful community and not-for-profit groups and their often unheralded, crucial community service work – both in metropolitan and rural Victoria. It allowed me to learn from, support and work closely with a very impressive, honourable public figure and statesman. It taught me valuable organisational, representational and policy development skills. And finally, I got to meet Her Majesty The Queen and Prince Philip, which was both exciting but also made my Grandma very proud!

There is barely a day goes by in my professional career where I don’t draw from the skills and experience I developed as an Aide to the Governor of Victoria. I would strongly recommend it to those interested in public policy, community service, and understanding of the major issues facing the State and nation and the opportunity to support and be a part of public office.

I learned how to plan and execute the role of the Governor in a range of events. These ranged from key note speeches at mass gatherings, awards ceremonies, public events such as ANZAC Day and sporting events, touring industrial and services sector plants, including export award winning companies, engaging international visitors, attending policy dialogues, planning and attending visits to regional Victoria and attending specialised events to highlight the work of community, charity and NGOs.

I learned how to be the conduit between stakeholders and the Office of the Governor. This required a great deal of on-the-job learning about protocol, but also the particular style, interests and preferences of the Governor. I learned how to engage with a wide range of people, from a wide range of backgrounds. I got better at responding to last-minute changes to programs, or mishaps, in a calm and measured way. I developed my speech writing and research capabilities. And it was important that I was able to work in small teams that were, at times, under acute pressures.

After I left Government House I returned to the same law firm for another year or so. But all the while I kept thinking about what I’d experienced and learned working in the Office of the Governor. I felt that, at some level, it had been like I had worked for an Ambassador for Victoria – someone who was 100% committed to the interests of the State, and to representing that State in national and international engagements.

It was about that time that I applied to join the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade –Australia’s foreign service. I was successful, joined in 2003 and have been with the Department ever since. I have served Australia at two overseas postings: in Geneva, Switzerland and in Washington DC in the United States. Since then I have also served as Ambassador for Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) for three years. Trade policy has been a major policy focus of mine through these roles. I am currently the Chief Legal Officer, overseeing a team that works on Australian international legal and strategic policy interests. Looking back, it was the combination of my university studies, my early legal practice, and especially my role as Aide to the Governor, that collectively lead to the focus of my career. I will forever be grateful for having had the opportunity, and the privilege, to serve in the role as Aide to the Governor of Victoria.

Nicole Endacott (2000 – 2002)
Recruitment / social and environmental change

Sometimes people are surprised to learn that my time as Aide to the Governor of Victoria helped shape my future direction.  It seems a far-cry from my current work in social and environmental change, and the role I had been doing before becoming Aide.  

A large part of the Governor’s role is community-focussed. As Aide, I saw, first-hand, both the inequities that exist and the power of community-led change in addressing those inequities.  I saw what can happen when people who have experienced social challenges are front and centre of the development of solutions.

After finishing at Government House, I decided that community-led change would be my focus. I spent nine years running leadership programs for young people from tough backgrounds.  During this time, I established a youth leadership organisation, with a focus on personal and community leadership. My time at Government House gave me unique skills and experience that helped me become a Founder at a relatively young age.  

My work and post-graduate studies showed me how "stuck" our social systems are, and that to sustainably address complex social and environmental problems, we need to find ways to become "collectively unstuck".  I came to see that, as well as centring the voices of people most affected by complex social and environmental issues, we need to address the cultural and social drivers that keep these complex problems stuck. My focus expanded to what I describe as community-hearted systems change.  I work on my own projects and ideas, and with Reos Partners.

Before becoming Aide to the Governor, I had been working as a Research Associate with an Executive Search firm.  My mum alerted me to the job ad.  20 years later she reminds me that she is still waiting on the spotter’s fee!

Richard Jacques (2001-2003)
Education

There is almost not a day that goes by that I do not think of the amazing experience of working as Aide to the Governor of Victoria and what it has taught me.  At the time it felt like a huge risk leaving my chosen career of being a primary school teacher, especially when I was teaching the most beautiful class of Prep children.  Since primary school I had been passionate about wanting to become a primary school teacher and a principal.  I was only two and a half years into my career as an educator and focussed on creating a class environment where being kind, giving your best and enjoying learning mattered. 

Through conversations with an Aide at the time, I loved hearing what the rich and diverse role included.  One thing led to another and with the support of my Principal at the time I accepted the challenge, embraced the change in direction and would say that this special role very much positively influenced my journey in life.  It also gave me an amazing experience that truly enhanced my career in education – in actual fact looking back it gave a huge boost to my career.

Being Aide to the Governor of Victoria was an opportunity of a lifetime.  I was fortunate to do so many amazing things and meet so many amazing people.  It was an absolute honour to be part of the Government House team who supported the Governor John Landy and Mrs Landy. These inspirational people taught me so much about life and living and they helped me to more fully appreciate where I lived and where I worked.

I attended many cultural and sporting events such as the ballet, opera and theatre. As I travelled around the state with the Governor and Mrs Landy, I was continually made aware of how fortunate I was to live in a country where people believe in themselves and are so generous in doing so much for others.  I loved meeting the different communities and hearing stories of passionate people doing great things for their community.  I am so glad that I was open to this exciting experience and open to meeting new people.  

The role included attending the Governor at both in-house and external functions, organising city and shire tours, providing detailed briefs, speech writing, liaising with the media and taking enquiries from the general public. It was an honour to see a leader in our Victorian community have as much humility as the Governor and to see him take the time to show gratitude to everyone who made a difference in their communities.  The Governor and Mrs Landy all had a wonderful way of making people feel special and appreciated.

After my stint at Government House I took up another opportunity to teach in Brixton, London.  The school was located in an impoverished inner city area with all the inherent challenges associated with poverty and disadvantage.  It was a ‘failing’ school.   Most students came from minority ethnic groups and they were learning English as an additional language and most of them were eligible for free school meals. 

After thinking I would stay for six months, it ended up being three years.  During my time at Brixton I really got to know the students, their families and the wider community. 

I lived, travelled and worked overseas and I have now not only returned to my chosen career in education, but I have become a principal and a leader in my school and local community.  I have learned to be open to every opportunity that comes my way, to follow my passions, to be involved, to surround myself with good people, to savour the moments along the way, to celebrate, to think positively, to live life with a grateful heart always looking forward and above all else to be kind.

Alison Barnard (2005 – 2006)
Communications and Stakeholder Engagement

Previously, I worked in broadcast journalism as a television news producer and in media relations for two universities in Melbourne.  I moved to Melbourne from the United States and joined GH just two years after migrating to Australia.  I was the first person (that I know of) from the USA to work at Government House Victoria.

I was an Aide in 2005-2006 and learned more in the role than I ever could have imagined.  I majored in English and Political Science in university, and was able to put all of these skills and learnings into use. I had many opportunities to hone my written communication skills, verbal briefing skills, speechwriting skills and learn about government communications, firsthand.

GH provided my first introduction to government workings and government communications.  I had the opportunity to see organisations and communities throughout Victoria.  I was exposed to international government, to government machinery and to government diplomacy. 

As an Aide, I had the opportunity to polish those ‘soft skills’ that are invaluable, no matter what profession you pursue, such as handling a number of high profile competing projects and cross cultural communication.

GH always has a number of events and visitors at the same time – being an Aide is a demanding role, and you learn to manage priorities and your time.   As a communicator, I had many opportunities to practise relating to the many different people who visited. 

My term as an Aide truly influenced my career path in the most positive ways.  I’ve carried my love of government communications, first discovered at Government House, throughout my career.

After Government House, I worked for eight years in the U.S. Consulate General in Sydney as a senior media affairs specialist for the U.S Department of State.  When my husband took a role in the United Arab Emirates, I then worked in public relations and handled the accounts of large UAE government clients.  Each role put what I learned at GH into use. 

I now work in community and stakeholder engagement for a major Australian infrastructure consulting firm.  And yes, I still love government communications and think back to the skills I first learned at Government House that I’m still using today, almost 20 years later. 

Andrew Rabinovich (2016 – 2017)
Medicine

I had the privilege of joining Governor Dessau’s staff at Government House in 2016 during the first year of her term. Prior to my appointment, I was working as a doctor at St Vincent’s Hospital Melbourne. Despite my strong passion for medicine, I felt professionally unidimensional, siloed, and uncertain of my future career direction.

My appointment as an Aide to Governor Dessau presented a unique opportunity to develop qualities and skills I’d have otherwise never possessed or appreciated. The significant responsibilities of the position demand organisation, planning, situational awareness and the ability to perform under pressure – desirable traits in any employee. The position also affords unparalleled opportunity to engage with and learn from senior leaders in the public and private sector, ideal for someone like me who was seeking professional direction. My appreciation of the professional relationships and experiences I enjoyed at Government House was a significant contributor to my decision to return to medicine and train as an anaesthetist at the Alfred Hospital. Despite a year away from clinical medicine, I believe I left a better doctor than when I arrived.

I’d strongly encourage anyone to consider pursuing employment at the Office of the Governor, especially under Governor Dessau. The opportunities and experiences available would be invaluable irrespective of your background experience, or potential future career.

Katie Van Den Bos (2016 – 2017)
Law and International Policy

Taking the role as Aide to the Governor took my career on a very exciting (and completely unexpected) new journey. I started my career as a lawyer in the private sector in Canberra. I enjoyed being a lawyer and was planning to find legal work when I moved to Melbourne in 2016, when, by chance, I came across the opportunity to work with the Governor. I confess, at the time I didn’t know much about the Governor or her role, but the more I learned, the more I was intrigued and excited by it.

The Governor’s daily program is exceptionally diverse: celebrating communities, hosting diplomats, commemorating milestones and engaging with thought leaders. Being able to facilitate and participate in a meaningful, community driven program was incredibly rewarding, and I thrived in the fast-paced, varied and unique environment. I found my legal experience had equipped me well for the research and briefing and I was able to refine my soft skills in diplomacy, networking and stakeholder engagement.

Building a relationship with Her Excellency and gaining a unique insight into the significant function of a Head of State, is an incredibly privileged role, unlike any other.

The role opened up a world of opportunity for me. Following my time at Government House I took up a position as International Policy Adviser at the Department of Premier and Cabinet in the Victorian Government, and I presently work as the Assistant Trade Manager in the Victorian Government’s London office. I’m incredibly fortunate to have found a new and highly rewarding career in government, which I couldn’t have dreamed of as a young lawyer, and I couldn’t be more grateful for the time I spent as Aide to the Governor.