Home>Portrait of Thomas Chailloux, alumnus


Portrait of Thomas Chailloux, alumnus

After completing a bachelor's degree at the Paris campus of Sciences Po, Thomas went to Australia for a year to teach French. On returning to France, he joined the Governing the Large Metropolis master's programme and graduated in 2015. He is now a Policy Officer with the NGO Public Interest Advocacy Centre in Sydney. Interview

What is your current job?

I am a public policy analyst at the Public Interest Advocacy Centre, an NGO specialising in public policy development and advice, and strategic litigation. Most of the people I work with are lawyers. We try to create change in the law or public policies, chiefly through lobbying. We also seek out clients whose situation is particularly representative of a public policy or legislative problem, and we try to advance their cases through the judicial system with the goal of changing the law.

My primary role, which represents about 50% of my time, is with the Homeless Person’s Legal Service where we offer free legal services to those who are homeless or poorly housed. As an analyst, I work to influence public policy legislation around housing and homelessness services.

My secondary responsibility consists of assisting colleagues on diverse and various subjects, for example, security issues. Part of our organisation is responsible for 'monitoring' the police and how they apply their powers and prerogatives to disadvantaged and marginalised groups. We also work on issues related to democracy, or quite general things in consulting and public policy analysis.

My other role is as part of a climate justice project. The aim is to study the response of our NGO in relation to climate change. We are not an environmental NGO, but the aim is to see how we can contribute. I am currently developing a project related to energy efficiency in social housing. The objective is to identify public policies that would allow us to moderate the extent of climate change, to adapt to the climate change that is already under way and, finally, to deliver socio-economic benefits for the poorest people and for society as a whole. 

What do you like most about your job?

I think it's the policy development side. It's really interesting. You have to have a good knowledge of the subject matter, you have to target the right population group, you have to use the right mechanisms, whether they are legislative or more market-based. At the same time, you have to combine this with a little political realism: what can be "sold" to the government in power? What is compatible with their ideologies, with their way of thinking, and with the mechanisms that already exist? How can we use what already exists in terms of public policy to do things a little differently?

I also like the lobbying part of the job. The term lobbying is not seen in a very positive light in France, but the consumer advocacy side, trying to convince, the more political side of the work, this is also something I appreciate.

What has been your career path since graduating?

I left for Australia quite quickly after my end of year internship. For almost two years, I didn't really try to work in my field. I was teaching French part-time. I needed to reflect a bit, to know if I really wanted to work in public policy or in urban planning. After thinking about it, I realised that this was indeed the case.

My first job was as a Capacity Building Project Officer at the NGO Inner Sydney Voice. This was a social landlord initiative in a disadvantaged neighbourhood of Sydney. A large part of the public land was going to be sold to private developers to raise funds for the construction of new social housing. My mission was to support the inhabitants so that they could participate in the urban redevelopment of their neighbourhood. I really enjoyed working with the residents, being at their service, trying to help them to get involved in the process. However, as time went by, I had the impression that the participation of the inhabitants had a "gimmicky" side, since the broad outline of the project had already been determined politically. This was a problem for me and started to weigh me down. So, after a year and a half, I changed jobs.

I went to Shelter NSW, a public policy analysis and advisory organisation, which is very critical of the government projects. It represents the interests of low-income households in the housing market in terms of tenants' rights legislation, social housing, etc. The position was much more public policy and lobbying oriented. It is a rather special organisation as they represent the interests of homeless people and low-income households, but also social landlords. It's a little bit more of a holistic approach to housing needs. I started out as Outreach and Engagement Policy Officer, responsible for communication and engagement. I had to talk to our members, people in the community, people in public housing and people who were interested in our NGO. After a year, I became a Public Policy Analyst and then a Senior Analyst. I had to develop awareness campaigns on certain topics. In particular, I tried to change the tenancy laws in New South Wales so that tenants have better rights - they can be evicted from their homes without reason. I was also lobbying for and promoting social housing, which is a state responsibility in Australia. Housing is becoming less affordable for the middle classes in Australia, and many associations are working to address this problem.

Finally, I joined my current employer. The position allowed me to develop my skills and gave me the opportunity to work in an area that is close to my heart - the ecological transition.

What did your education at Sciences Po bring you?

A great deal. First of all, I was perfectly trained to analyse public policies, to understand them and to develop messages to change them. This allowed me to progress quite rapidly in my career and to take on increasingly important roles.

My education was multidisciplinary and versatile, which also helped me a lot, making it possible to switch quickly from one speciality to another. When I wanted to expand my sector of activity, I used my skills and applied them to new subjects quite rapidly, and I was therefore able to work on a variety of subjects. The comparative aspect of the master’s degree also makes it easier to understand foreign contexts. >Finally, having completed a master's degree entirely in English was a strength, and afterwards enabled me to find a job quite quickly.

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