Editing for government agencies


At this month’s meeting we’ll be having a panel discussion, featurng Maree Petersen AE, Cathy Nicoll AE and Dr Wendy Elliott.

You can attend either in person or via a Zoom webinar. To register to attend in person visit the Trybooking page. Registering helps us with catering, but isn’t essential.

Date: Wednesday 30 August 2023
Time: 5.45 pm (on site), 6.30 pm (webinar)
Dinner to follow at Bambusa Asian Cuisine, Manuka at 8 pm.
Further details below.

This is your opportunity to ask everything you always wanted to know about seeking and undertaking editorial work for government agencies. How do you find out about available work? What skills and experience do you need? What’s working with the government like? What kind of editing and writing is expected? What are the pros and cons?.

The panellists have decades of experience between them, and each has worked for a wide range of government agencies. Maree, Cathy and Wendy will tell us how they started out and the range of services they provide. They will share their insights into the special aspects of working with the government, what’s changing and current trends.

Join us for what promises to be a lively, insightful and fascinating discussion. Bring lots of questions, including the ones you were always afraid to ask!

About the panel

Maree Petersen AE has worked in the government sector for 35 years. She started as an Army officer but left the Army when she needed flexible work hours. A local business asked her to write a government tender and this was the start of her career as a writer. Maree set up as a sole trader, looked for clients and studied for formal qualifications. Over time her services expanded to include editing, design and training.

Maree’s clients at Petersen Ink are government organisations and businesses that work in the government sector. She mostly develops tenders, military doctrine, manuals and reports. She says her clients often ask for ‘writing’ or ‘editing’, but actually want a full service: literature review, consultation, analysis, outline plan, writing, editing, graphics, design and support to clearance processes.

Cathy Nicoll AE is a freelance writer and accredited editor who has worked to, for and in government for longer than she cares to count. She started her freelance editing career when her first child was born – no maternity leave and flexible working arrangements in those days! The inconvenience turned into an opportunity. Cathy has been a contract writer, freelance editor, subcontract content writer, labour hire technical writer, content strategist, UX designer and trainer. She is currently the digital content manager for a small government agency.

Cathy’s degree in environmental management has given her a good basis for the more scientific and technical subject matter she has worked on over the years. With everything she writes or edits, Cathy says the challenge lies in making government publications usable and interesting enough for people to want to read and use them while staying ‘true’ to the requirements of bureaucracy. More recent qualifications in education – both at the primary school level and adult education – have allowed her to deliver this level of service more effectively.

Dr Wendy Elliott is one half of Apricot Zebra, a Canberra editing company specialising in Australian Government publications. She co-founded the business (with Kirsten McNeill AE) six prime ministers ago. Wendy has 23 years’ experience in editing, writing and publishing roles. At Apricot Zebra she has completed high-profile and complex editing and writing projects for Australian Government agencies and other public, private, non-government and educational organisations.

Previously, Wendy held executive-level publishing and communications positions at the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission and the Australian Government Solicitor. She has a Graduate Diploma in Editing and Publishing from RMIT University and a PhD in history from Monash University.

To attend in person

Please register on the Trybooking page by 3 pm on Wednesday 30 August if you wish to attend in person. Your registration helps us to cater for the event, but you’re welcome to attend if you haven’t registered.


The Durie Room
St Mark’s National Theological Centre
15 Blackall St (not Blackall Place)
See MAP.


The room opens at 5:45 pm. The presentation begins at 6:30 pm.

Need to cancel?

Return your ticket directly into the TryBooking system to make it available for someone else.


We plan to dine at Bambusa Asian Cuisine in Franklin Street, Manuka at 8 pm after the meeting, with other CSE members. You can find the location and menu at: https://bambusa-ac.com/.

If you’d like to join us, please REGISTER by 3 pm on Wednesday 30 August so that we can finalise bookings.

To attend the webinar (via Zoom)

A link for the Zoom meeting will be supplied to all members by email. If you are not a member and wish to attend by Zoom, please send an email to the contact email address you will find on the About page and ask to be sent a link. Please do not pass on your link to other people.

The webinar audience can use Zoom’s Q&A functionality to ask questions or offer opinions. (You will not be able to see the presentation or participate in the Q&A if you attend by phone call.)

The webinar will not be recorded.

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