Thankful to your sharing. Yes, on-site and face to face interview is the ultimate weapon for one to obtain any serious job. On the other hand, phone or Skype interviews are nowadays extensively used by employers to pre-screen job candidates, which way however is subject to quite a few flaws. In my experience, I use earphone with mic for phone interview and laptop and its built in mic for Skype interview, and in more than 50% cases, the interviewer complained there were some echo and background noise sometimes, which really affected the two way communication. I also saw a few roles re-posted on seek shortly after I participated such interviews.
I fully agree on the significance of a stepping stone even the salary drop is big, as it eliminates the need to live with no income for uncertain periods, and equally importantly makes one more ready to find next job being local and having local reference check. That's why I also started looking into the state gov job website. I have considered the ICT support officer position, which is not fit for me as it requires starting ASAP and finishing end of Feb 17. I guess my best bet for state gov job will be a fixed term role (6 months+ hopefully).
Unlike most forum participants here who are from UK, I am actually from Singapore and I admit that I am a bit disadvantaged language wise especially when searching jobs off shore.
You seem to be more IT and I am more on developer...My searching results so far actually directed me to Mel and Adelaide, followed by Sydney, Qld, Perth...