This client applied for the role of Senior Case Officer (APS EL1 level) in one of the Commonwealth Government Departments and gained an interview. The selection panel judged my client’s application (from a nationwide pool of 90 written applications) as the best one received. Seven criteria required addressing. Following are full excerpts from three of the seven criteria.

Decision Making…

In my current role as an Internal Senior Case Officer (ISCO) with the CCC, I am responsible for making decisions regarding parents’ Change of Assessment (COA) applications. In several cases, the customers that are newly separated are experiencing a relationship breakdown and financial difficulty including property settlement and custody issues. For example, I dealt with a newly separated couple; both had lodged a COA application regarding the other partner’s income and did not understand child support and what could or could not be considered. The mother had no source of income other than Centrelink payments and her living expenses were high because she remained in the family home. For a number of months the mother had access to funds from the joint bank account. However, the father could no longer afford this as he was meeting the needs of two households as well as sharing the care of the children. In addition, the parents had not finalised property settlement. I conducted an initial consult with each parent and elected to follow up with face-to-face conversations to further discuss the issues. During my discussions with both parents, I determined that the funds the mother sourced from the joint bank account could be considered when determining a child support assessment. I also negotiated with the parents that the father would continue to pay these costs and that his assessment would be reduced for a period of six months in recognition of meeting these costs, and to allow for the property settlement to be finalised. I advised them on the level of financial support that would be required from the father through the CCC, taking into account that his income was greatly reduced because of his caring responsibilities and the additional payments he made for the mother’s household. As a result, by taking the time to discuss each step of the decision making process at length with both parents, they accepted the outcome of the decision and gained a greater and more informed understanding of the processes involved.

Case Management…

I recently managed one particular case where both parents had sold a business as part of their property settlement. The parents advised me that tax legislation allowed them to carry forward profit from selling the business. I conducted research and investigation utilising CCC’s systems and Australian Taxation Office (ATO) systems in order to determine their financial circumstances and to discuss with them the type of decision that could be made based on this information. My analysis confirmed that due to taxation legislation the parents were able to carry forward the business’ profit and report it over a number of tax years. However, both parents’ adjusted taxable incomes were inflated because of the business profit carried forward, resulting in a higher rate of child support payable; this was unfair. I consulted with both parents and advised that this did not signify actual income available in the financial year it was reported in. Subsequently, an agreement between the parents was reached to remove this amount from both their incomes.  I also used this discussion to explain to both parents the approximate child support payable without this amount being included in their adjusted taxable incomes. My approach in effectively handling and managing this case satisfied both parents’ expectations. As a result, they were not surprised when I advised them on the outcome of the decision as they had a gained a more informed and clearer understanding of the process; and moreover, no further complaints were lodged.

Team Leadership and Collaboration…

When I commenced the role of Part 6A Delegate, I promptly held a meeting with the team to inform them of my expectations. I explained my preference of discussing their decisions with me prior to writing reports. They unanimously agreed with this approach. This ensured that they did not waste time writing a report that was not authorised, as well as assisting them to thoroughly examine decisions from all angles and to ensure all evidence and information was asked for and/or considered in the decision making process. The implementation of this process increased the consistency of the information considered in decisions and the quality of report development during my tenure in this role. Overall, I facilitate a supportive and participative culture amongst team members by recognising the aspects of the job that team members perform well in, and by establishing a referral service where other staff have the opportunity to approach them for assistance in this particular area. For example, I dealt with new team member who struggled with writing reports but had exceptional skills in analysing bank statements. I referred staff to her who required assistance with statement analysis and provided her with the names of staff who had strong report writing skills to support her in this regard. As a result, this team member felt she was a highly valued member of team. Furthermore, the team’s capabilities increased as a whole through the sharing of knowledge.

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Annie Cerone