The Department of Foreign Affairs has agreed to throw a career lifeline to the dozens of young people hired for this year’s AusAID graduate program then sacked before they could start their careers.

After peace talks at the Fair Work Commission, DFAT has agreed to grant the 38 young people a six-week reprieve from their sacking, leaving them an outside chance of finding jobs with other public service departments.

These people really are cream of our community that is seeking to work in the public service 

The compromise, brokered at the commission after the Community and Public Sector Union launched action, will allow other departments to hire the graduates because, as APS employees, they are not covered by the government-imposed hiring freeze.

But the majority of departments have already completed their 2014 graduate intakes and are planning to cull their workforces through redundancies, so opportunities could be thin on the ground.

The applicants for the iconic AusAID program had been offered graduate positions with the overseas aid agency but were then told by DFAT not to show up.

DFAT, which will go ahead with its own graduate program as usual next year, endured a storm of criticism for its move, which contravened two pieces of specific advice from the Public Service Commission.

CPSU deputy secretary Rupert Evans said the compromise represented an offer DFAT should have made at the start.

“We think that’s what should have happened in the first place, so we’re pleased that the department has agreed to that. It’s an opportunity that didn’t exist for these people before,” Mr Evans said.

“It’s a good outcome and we hope that as many of them get taken up as possible.

“The AusAID graduate positions historically, and this time around, have been very keenly contested.

"The graduate intake in the APS is among the best and brightest anyway and the AusAID one is particularly keenly sought, so these people really are cream of our community that is seeking to work in the public service.”