I began my journey at the Queensland Audit Office (QAO) in February 2021, in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic. Conceptually, I think all Queenslanders are aware of the critical role that our state public service entities play in our lived experiences. However, during my lifetime, I don’t think public services such as health, policing, education, public transport (and many others) have ever been as relied upon.
I can’t be certain how much the current challenges for Queensland’s entities impacted on my choice to be at QAO today. However, when I received the offer to join the graduate program, I felt a profound sense of rightness that QAO was where I wanted to start my career.
Commencing audits with QAO
I found it interesting that before our basic audit training sessions, our very first formal workshop was titled ‘auditing in the public sector’.
All Queensland state and local government entities are required to undergo independent audit by our office. This allows us to develop comprehensive knowledge of these entities, and makes relationship management all the more important. We ensure we focus on enduring, productive, and valued relationships while undertaking our independent audits and sharing our insights.
We also ensure we constantly challenge standard audit approaches and consider innovative ways to obtain assurance. I have found that we, as QAO auditors, must adapt our services to the changing nature of audit – just as our clients must adapt their services to satisfy the ever-evolving needs of Queenslanders.
Working as an auditor
The more audit work I perform across our varied clients, the greater my understanding and appreciation grows for the vital functions that public sector and local government entities perform. Over the past 11 months, I have worked with less than 2 per cent of QAO’s client base. Yet, I have already had the opportunity to work and learn within the areas of state investment, energy, and tertiary education (to name a few). Knowing that the state government delivers the above functions (and more) is one thing, however, performing the audit work provides a unique window into the massive amounts of economic and human capital required to keep the proverbial lights running.
But it goes both ways! Recently, I attended the Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital for a PCR test. While in line, I found myself in awe of the people and resources being deployed to provide a health service that responded to a need unfathomable only 3 years ago. On that day, I was a consumer of our state’s public services. Possibly this year, I will have the opportunity to perform work verifying the financial data of the entities that deliver these crucial services.
My motivation to perform with professionalism and excellence in my chosen career is a given. My function as an auditor currently centres around work that informs an end of year audit opinion. Working with our clients to ensure that accurate and reliable financial information is disseminated in a timely manner empowers decision makers, and I believe instils community confidence that resources are being used effectively. I see the ultimate beneficiaries of our combined efforts to be my friends, family, and broader community, who are stakeholders in a myriad of public sector services.
A year auditing at QAO
February 2022 will mark one full calendar year since I embarked on my career as a graduate auditor at QAO. Due to our financial year end reporting requirements, the auditing profession is inexorably synced to a yearly cycle. For me, soon this cycle will refresh again. I am returning to a client to perform an ‘interim visit’ for my second year on the audit. I am well acquainted with the audit team, I know some of the client’s staff, and I have an increased understanding of the entity. I hope to use my experience and knowledge to provide additional client value this year, and to enable a more efficient audit.
After a year of exposure and growth, at this point of reset, I am coming to understand how our audit work drives our vision of ‘better public services.’ Additionally, the audit process has helped me to better understand the critical role of public services and their impacts on the lives of Queenslanders, each and every day.