Government work doesn't have to be office-bound

The Customs and Border Protection Marine Unit offers a challenging career path.
The Customs and Border Protection Marine Unit offers a challenging career path. PARLIN MANUNGKALIT

WORKING for the government doesn't have to mean you're office-bound, dealing with bureaucrats and politicians.

It can be a whole lot more interesting, and you can find yourself working with considerably less savoury people than those who tread the halls of parliament.

Australia's Customs and Border Protection Service works with other Australian and international agencies to manage the security and integrity of our borders.

Officers in the service work to detect and deter unlawful movement of people and property across Australia's borders. The service employs about 5500 people, both here and overseas, with a head office in Canberra.

Given that Australia is girt by a whole lot of deep blue sea, a lot of the service's activities take place on the ocean.

Enforcement officer Nicole Pedemonte was a 10-year veteran of the South Australian police force when she decided she needed a bigger challenge.

Hearing stories of the rough seas, tactical response roles and travel enjoyed by the Customs and Border Protection Marine Unit, Nicole said she decided to lodge an application.

"I've had some fantastic opportunities whilst being in the marine unit and have taken part in many training courses since starting my career," she said.

"I was concerned at first that I didn't have a background in maritime operations and was purely relying on my policing background but the constant training I receive and my experiences on board each patrol have enabled me to feel secure in my role here."

Like the armed forces, the Marine Unit is traditionally male-dominated, but Nicole said that had never been an issue.

"I often get asked if being a female officer on board is difficult in a male-dominated workforce. I've never found it to be a problem and I get along well with everyone.

"There is an understanding that we are all equal, which comes from the knowledge that everyone was put through the same training and went through the same standards to get here.

"It does help to have a good sense of humour too."

Most recruitment into the Service is through the Customs and Border Protection Trainee Program, a 26-week intensive training program combining theory, practical applications, work simulations and on-the-job training.

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