After working in conservation and environmental education for 10 years throughout Australia for both private and government organisations, I decided I needed another challenge. After graduating with an Ecotourism Degree from Flinders University, I started out life as an interpretative tour Guide at the famous Warrawong Sanctuary, then progressed to native animal management and later moved on to become a Free Flight Raptor Presenter, Animal trainer and zookeeper, at Darwin's Territory Wildlife Park. So it should be no surprise that I am a passionate conservationist, environmentalist and love nothing more than being out in the Australian wilderness birdwatching or hiking or just listening to the sounds of the bush. But I felt that in my current position as a zookeeper, I was not able to affect the type of change that I wanted. So I decided to try out the big smoke and apply for the graduate program, thinking I would never be accepted and here I am!
First Placement: Conservation Incentives and Design team, Biodiversity Conservation Branch
I had no idea what to expect for my first rotation but thought due to by background it would be somewhere in the Approvals and Wildlife Division. However, that was not to be and I was pleasantly surprised when I was placed in the Biodiversity Conservation Branch with the Conservation Incentives and Design team. The work was challenging and required a high degree of esoteric thinking to understand the concept and policy positions, as it was unlike anything I had done before. However, thanks to my supportive team, after several weeks, I finally came to grips with the work and thoroughly enjoyed it. I worked on organising and providing logistical and administrative support to my supervisor to organise a Private Land Conservation Forum, including venue hire, catering, approvals, selection of attendees, selection of papers to be presented and managing communication and stakeholders. I also provided administrative support to my supervisor in relation to graphics and tables through proof checks and updating. I was exposed to a variety of biodiversity issues whilst in the branch through my attendance at various forums and discussion at CSIRO and internally. These gave me a much better and broader understanding of the current biodiversity matters and solutions that are being attempted.
Second Placement: Kakadu National Park, Natural and Cultural Programs Unit at Bowali Visitor Centre
For my second rotation I was extremely fortunate to be placed in Kakadu National Park, working with the Natural and Cultural Programs Unit at Bowali Visitor Centre working on fire management. This was an absolute dream come true. Although I had been living in Darwin for the past 6 years, I was focused on the fauna of the top end and still had little understanding of how a national park operated and managed fire and how a joint management park operated. Coming from on ground conservation, I knew that the Parks division was a place I could see my skills and background and experience come into use so I was over the moon the say the least when I received the call that I was heading north! Kakadu was one of the most memorable experiences in my life. Although I did get to go out in the field, such as bush fire walking above Twin Falls and doing incendiary burning from a helicopter, the majority of my work surrounded the formation of a DRAFT Kakadu national Park Woodland Fire Management Strategy. My supervisor worked with me to produce a Project Plan and Outline and once approved, I set to work. I conducted a major literature review of fire in northern Australia around major topics such as pre contact and post contact, Aboriginal Fire Management, Flora and Fauna, Fire Regime and Severity to name a few. I researched, read and noted well over 50 papers and compiled these into a format to be readable to other staff i.e. rangers and fire managers. From this review, I completed a DRAFT version of the Fire Management Strategy for the Park and this gave me a massive sense of achievement. Throughout this period, I also began organising a Fire Workshop with both internal and external stakeholders, such as Bushfires NT, CSIRO, NT Government, local Aboriginal Groups and Traditional Owners. My time in Kakadu presented me with a huge challenge to live away from my husband and move yet again (the third time in as many months) but most importantly gave me the confidence and belief in myself that I was able to complete such a document in an area I had little experience in or knowledge of in such a limited time frame. I dealt with a wide range of people form all different backgrounds and loved the style of indoor-outdoor work. I found working in the Park very enjoyable and really felt like I was home. I will never ever forget my time there.
Third Placement: Indigenous Repatriation Section, Culture Division
Going outside my comfort zone, I headed to the Culture Division for my third rotation. I secured a place in the very small team of three in the Indigenous Repatriation Section. Having study Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander history and contemporary studies 10 years ago at University as part of my Ecotourism Degree, I held a keen interest in Australian First Nations History and the continuing struggle for recognition and for self determination. This section has proven to be a fantastic but challenging area of work. Being a small team, I am always busy and am currently working on a number of matters relating to the Return of Indigenous Cultural Property Program that my section administers. This includes the production of a newsletter for RICP Program members around Australia to improve communication and knowledge sharing and a number of briefing documents for the new minister. I have also been heavily involved in National Museum of Australia Annual Report preparation, proofing and briefing for the new minister. Although the section is not at all related wildlife conservation or the natural environment, I am thoroughly enjoying it and find the work both challenging and rewarding.
'the best thing about working for us ... is the environment'