I came to the Department after completing degrees in Environmental Management and Law at Macquarie University in Sydney. I was lucky enough to have gained some valuable experience in environmental and management and sustainability while I was employed in local government in northern Sydney while completing my studies, and I was keen to spread my wings and become involved in environmental policy at the national level. The Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities 2010 Graduate Program presented an excellent opportunity to do this.
First Placement: Recovery Planning and Implementation Section, Strategic Approvals and Legislation Branch, Approvals and Wildlife Division
I was thrilled to find out that my first placement would be with the Recovery Planning and Implementation Section, which ensures that national recovery plans for Australia's threatened flora and fauna species are developed as required by the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act), the key piece of legislation administered by the Department. I worked on a number of exciting tasks, including:
- Writing an issues paper outlining the role of regional recovery plans, an innovative new approach to threatened species recovery;
- Preparation of a discussion paper on guidelines for consulting Indigenous people in the recovery planning process;
- Undertaking editing and compliance checks of draft recovery plans.
Second Placement: Northern Australia Water Futures Assessment, Aquatic Ecosystems Policy Section, Aquatic Systems Health Branch, Water Reform Division
I was drawn to the Northern Australia Water Futures Assessment (NAWFA) because it represented a dynamic area of policy in an area I knew very little about - northern Australia. This important policy area is working to provide the science to ensure that northern Australia's relatively undeveloped water resources are protected and developed in a way that is ecologically, culturally and economically sustainable. Some of the tasks I worked on were:
- Ministerials, Question Time Briefs and other correspondence;
- Development of website and newsletter content;
- Development of a options paper discussing future directions for existing programs.
Third Placement: Legal Section, Strategic Advice Branch, Policy and Communications Division
My time in the Legal Section enabled me to get a taste of a career in law, which I thoroughly enjoyed. Working in a corporate area gave me an excellent overview of the policy areas that the Department is involved in. My role in the Legal Section was to provide legal advice (under supervision!) to line areas on issues such as funding agreements, procurement, indemnities and liabilities, statutory interpretation, delegations and contract variations.
Final Placement: Scientific Research and Information Section, Environmental Research and Information Branch, Information Management Division
At the end of the graduate year I found a home in with the Scientific Research and Information Section. The key role of the section is to improve the interface between research and the Department to ensure that policy and decision-making is based on best available knowledge. I will be involved in the administration of the one of the research hubs under the National Environmental Research Program, which invests $20 million each year in environmental research to improve the understanding and management of Australia's biodiversity.
'the best thing about working for us ... is the environment'