A DIFFERENT SERVICE: Former public service commissioner Andrew Podger and Health Department graduate Ellen Ferrington Michaelis. Photo: Melissa Adams
Andrew Podger has more stories to tell about the public service in Canberra than most, while Ellen Ferrington Michaelis is just starting on her collection of memories of the bureaucracy's place in the capital.
Mr Podger, a former public service commissioner, first came to Canberra to work for the service in 1968. Ms Ferrington Michaelis, a Department of Health and Ageing graduate, showed up early this year.
But both the rookie and the veteran have a keen interest in In Work And Play, a crowdsourcing website that will document the role played by the public service in building the national capital in the city's first 100 years.
The project, part of the Canberra centenary celebrations, will be launched on Wednesday afternoon at the National Archives building in Parkes, the city's earliest public service building.
The website is part of a wider APS Centenary of Canberra initiative to acknowledge the APS's contribution to the Canberra community.
Ms Ferrington Michaelis' first six months in the capital have already seen at least one episode bound to pass into Canberra folklore.
''I think I've had my six-month anniversary with Canberra and there's been a lot going on, like getting used to the Skywhale phenomena,'' she said.
If Mr Podger's experience is typical, the online project might attract a lot of reminiscences about Canberra's night life, or lack thereof, in the 1950s, '60s and '70s.
''There were a lot of restrictions on things to do,'' he said. ''As I recall, there were limits on alcohol, so that you couldn't get in on a Sunday and you had to go across to Queanbeyan if you wanted to do that.
''There weren't many places that were open late. There was a hamburger joint in Braddon on Lonsdale Street we called Greasy Louie's … I think it was the only place that was open after sort of half-past-five.''
But it is not just downtime options that have changed for Canberra's bureaucrats.
''It was very much a public service town then, but the public service was very different,'' Mr Podger said.
''It was very male-oriented unless you were junior … that meant all the typing pools, all the data entry people, so the basement of Treasury was full of women just punching cards for the computers, about 200 of them. About 25 came in with my graduate cohort and there was one woman, and none of us thought that was very surprising.''
Times have certainly changed, with Ms Ferrington Michaelis reporting her 2013 graduate intake was about 60 per cent female.
In Work And Play will be launched in the Menzies Room, National Archives of Australia, Queen Victoria Terrace, Parkes, at 3pm on Wednesday.