So…Why Follow a Fellow? Exclusive Interview!

Everyone who knows about Code for Australia has heard of the fellowship program that’s on offer. If you haven’t, you must click here to make sure you don’t miss out!

Current fellow, Steve Bennett, promoting open data and hackathons.

2014 CfA Fellowship Workshop.

We caught up with Mr. Welte, who is just finishing his fellowship program here in Australia. He started in mid April 2015, and will finish the program in approximately three weeks. We asked him a few questions about his experience, and wanted to hear why he thinks that people should get involved with such an opportunity:

1) Now that you’re a fellow, what doors have been opened to you?

“I started out as a Code for America fellow for about a year in Arizona, so coming to Australia and learning about a new culture as well as different ways various people approach the idea of tech and government was extremely interesting and eye-opening for me. I knew that the fellowship program would open doors and new experience for me and the future, and I know that I will end up at some very cool places thanks to having this opportunity.”

2) What key lessons did you learn from the fellowship Program?

“Firstly, I’ve gained a much deeper appreciation for the talent and dedication brought forward by members of the public. They choose to use their time to help individuals in society, and this is where this stereotypically bad impression people have when thinking of government is laid to rest. The media loves to focus on political shenanigans, which politicians are eating what, all that jazz. You never hear about the public servants who, like us, are doing their best regardless of who is ostensibly running everything. They work tirelessly for the public good and it’s likely that most of the systems the country is built on, whether that’s roads and transit or schools and energy, depends on these unsung heroes whose names you’ll likely never know.”

3) Did you feel like you had a direct and positive impact on the community?

“Definitely. Our challenge is to build services that work for the public, which means everyone. The population of New South Wales, for example, is about 7.5 million. I’ve been doing a couple of things up in NSW, like getting connected to others in the community and helping connect those who are equally passionate about the idea of civic tech. Additionally, I am supporting the work that the Department of Education is doing to help make information more accessible and bring innovation to government.”

4) How did you use your skills with Code for Australia to help deliver key public services?

“I had a few goals, the first was to design and build prototypes and leave the department better off by the time I had to go. I can confidently say that we are at that stage now, and I am hoping to put a bit more time into it to wrap it up soon. Secondly, I wanted to do whatever I could do to build the civic tech community up in Sydney. Civic tech meet-ups were arranged and we got about 50-100 people to show up for a talk. I want to get this seemingly hidden big tech community interested into the idea of Code for Australia.”

5) What sort of person would you recommend the fellowship program to and why?

“The fellowship program needs people who are good at a few things: understanding a problem, designing a solution, and building it. Those people are going to be embedded for a short time, but they need to research and change the internal culture of the development and how they are related to tech. To sum it up, people who are good communicators, those who can talk to people as well as computers.”

Thank you Mr. Welte for taking the time to talk with us and help explain how the Code for Australia fellowship program has helped you. Hopefully we can continue to ensure that other participants will find it as useful and interesting as you did! As can be seen with this story, as long as you have a vision and an idea, us here at CfA can help make your dream a reality.

The fellowship program is in partnership with councils, the MAV, Sky Software, as well as reemployment and local IT agencies in Geelong.

The six-week fellowship kicks off on June 20th 2015, and everyone is welcome. Visit to apply today.

Please also have a look at our Facebook page at:, and let others know about the wonders civic-tech can do for your community.


This piece of work is for an RMIT assignment, this is in no way real and I have no professional ties with Code for Australia.

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