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Defence’s media operations and strategic
communication capabilities have recently been
strengthened to better support ministers and
senior Defence leaders in media-related activities.
The former Ministerial Support and Public
Affairs division has been revamped as the
Ministerial and Executive Coordination and
Communication Division. MECC will be the
departmental focus for issues management
and media engagement.
One of the most visible changes is the
creation of two new branches, from the former
Public Affairs branch.
A new Communication and Media Branch,
headed by Celia Perkins, will focus on daily
media operations, media engagement, and a
renewed focus on digital and social media,
including a significant project to update the
Defence Minister’s web presence and upgrading
Defence’s online imagery capability and digital
Ms Perkins and her team will work
closely with Groups and Services to improve
responsiveness to media enquires, and to better
meet the expectations of ministers and Defence
leaders for media support.
The monthly Defence Magazine, fortnightly
Service newspapers and digital media section will
stay in the Communication and Media Branch.
Defence’s strategic communication
objectives will be handled by a new Strategic
Communication Branch in the VCDF Group,
headed by Brigadier Alison Creagh.
StratCom will focus on developing coherent
and targeted strategic communication plans,
including in support of operational deployments.
The branch will also comprise uniformed public
affairs officers deployed on operations, embedded
at HQJOC and the 1st
Joint Public Affairs Unit,
and will include training and support functions.
The management of complex and sensitive
portfolio issues will also be enhanced through
the new Strategic Issues Management Branch,
headed by Marc Ablong, working in close
collaboration with Groups and Services. The
Issues Management Team will focus in particular
on working with Groups and Services to develop
briefing material for ministers on critical issues
likely to impact in both the near and longer term.
The existing functions of Ministerial and
Executive Support Branch and Freedom of
Information and Information Management
Branch will continue in their existing roles.
These changes took effect on January 20.
Communication & media
Four very keen students from the
Advanced Diploma of Accounting
course at the Canberra Institute
of Technology (CIT) had the rare
opportunity for some inside experience
With one of the largest public sector
discretionary budgets, Defence goes about
managing an annual budget of around
$26b and assets in excess of $67b.
Ms Coady Laurie, Ms Stephanie Carbone,
Ms Daisy Sunaryo Smith and Mr Abbas
Yarbakhsh enjoyed some fast-paced
work experience between November and
December last year in the Chief Finance
Officer Group (CFOG) and in the Office
of Secretary and Chief of the Defence
Force Budget and Financial Management
directorate. It turned out to be an
invaluable experience for them all.
One of the students, Mr Abbas
Yarbakhsh, moved to Australia from Iran
more than five years ago and has since
completed an Advanced Diploma of
Accounting at CIT.
“I have come to the Department of
Defence through the CIT Pilot Industry
Engagement Work Experience Program and
my position at the moment is Business
Activity Statement (BAS) compliance officer
in the Defence Tax Management Office,”
Mr Yarbakhsh said.
“This has been a great opportunity
to learn the ropes of the APS. I have
been warmly welcomed and people have
been very willing to teach me the work
and give me the chance to stretch my
“I would highly recommend the program
to other students.”
This was the first time CIT accounting
students have undertaken work experience
in Defence, and both organisations look
set to continue the arrangement.
Assistant Secretary Financial
Professionalisation, Controls and Skilling,
Ms Dianne Leak, presented each of the
students with a certificate of participation
after completing the program.
Working in Defence finance is a
great way to commence or continue a
professional finance career with many
opportunities for challenging work and
There are many ways to pursue a finance
career in Defence, with further information
under skilling on the CFOG website.
Students gain inside
experience in Defence
Above: CIT Students
with their Certificates of
Participation from the left:
Ms Stephanie Carbone, Ms
Coady Laurie, Ms Daisy Sunaryo
Smith, Mr Abbas Yarbakhsh and
at the rear Mr Craig Iverach,
Program Manager. Right:
Acting Assistant Director
Tax Management, Mrs Irena
Stevens, explains the DTMO
Quality Assurance spreadsheet
to Mr Abbas Yarbakhsh.
By Craig Iverach
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