11 September 2023

APS 'Spirit of Service' exhibition opens at Museum of Australian Democracy

| Andrew McLaughlin
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Barrie Cassidy, Senator Katy Gallagher and Stephanie Bull.

Old Parliament House chair Barrie Cassidy, Minister for the Public Service Senator Katy Gallagher and Museum of Australian Democracy director Stephanie Bull at the Spirit of Service launch. Photo: Michelle Kroll.

An exhibition celebrating the service and commitment of the public service to the Australian community has been opened at the Museum of Australian Democracy at the Old Parliament House.

The Spirit of Service exhibition was opened by the Minister for the Public Service, Senator Katy Gallagher.

The exhibition spans more than 100 years of the APS and features stories of more than 200 public servants. It includes physical objects, videos and interactive digital experiences showing the diversity of public service work and its contribution to Australian democracy.

“Spirit of Service tells the stories of stewardship in action – of people making a difference and leaving the APS in a better place than they found it,” Senator Gallagher said.

“That spirit of service is what unifies the experience of all public servants, no matter where they’re working or what they’re doing.

“The APS works tirelessly every day to support Australians and the Albanese Government is delivering a strong reform agenda to rebuild the APS and support public servants to achieve excellence in their areas of expertise.”

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The exhibition is curated by Jennifer Forest and was developed by the Australian Public Service Commission in partnership with the museum.

APS commissioner Gordon de Brouwer urged everyone to “come and see the exhibition”.

“It tells a proud story of an APS that serves government and the Australian people daily, one that represents the many and changing roles of the APS. The exhibition team have done a fantastic job.”

At the launch event, Senator Gallagher described the museum as a fitting venue to host the exhibition because the APS was central to Australia’s democratic system and to the lives of all Australians.

“Australians interact with the APS at all points – whether it be to register a birth, receive a tax file number for your first job, get help when times are tough via payments from Centrelink, when you leave and return to our country,” she said. “Or when you need help overseas, and in the many, less visible but no less meaningful ways that policymakers and regulators touch the lives of Australians.

“The APS is there in times of national crisis – whether it be a bushfire or flood emergency – or helping keep the country running during the pandemic.

“I’m sure all in this room will remember the footage of huge queues outside Centrelink offices, in the early days of the pandemic – when so many people were unable to work – and the public servants who turned up for duty around the country.”

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She hailed the diligence of public servants and emergency services personnel who kept services going despite the restrictions of the pandemic.

“The public service is our social safety net,” she said.

“I am so proud to be the minister leading the work to reform and strengthen this enduring institution.

“Spirit of Service has, until now, been an untold story. It’s a story about the important roles and incredible stories that don’t make it to the front pages of newspapers.

“These are the stories of stewardship in action, of people making a difference and leaving the APS in a better place than they found it.”

The Museum of Australian Democracy is open 9 am to 5 pm daily.

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