You wont find glorious tales of travel and dynamic work experience in my background. Instead, you'll find the story of someone who has always done things a bit differently. After living in three states, and attending four schools, I finished high school in sunny Queensland entranced by the bright lights of world politics and political systems, thanks to a wonderful history teacher. My course was set; trajectory - the political sphere.
I ignored the repeated suggestion that since I got top grades at school I "should do law". Instead, I took the best piece of advice I have ever received; do what you love, and do it well. I commenced an Arts degree with majors in International Relations and Islamic Studies. I spent three years completely enthralled in ideology, political economy, everything UN related, studying Arabic, dissecting the Koran and explaining to people what jihad really meant.
At 20 I graduated, and lacking the funds to complete my national service/backpacking Europe, I took on a Masters in Governance and Public Policy. I applied for a number of Graduate jobs, but ended up making the seemingly odd choice (for me) of the Dept of Environment. While the subject matter was not what I studied, I was drawn to the department's passion for its work; people seemed to share my philosophy of doing what you love, and doing it well. In addition, the graduate program appeared to be one best in terms of support, variety of work, culture and opportunities.
So here I am in Canberra, surrounded by people who love what they do, and are as hopelessly enthralled by the political world as me.
First Placement: International Heritage and Policy Branch/ International Projects Section - Heritage Division
The International Projects Section manages the Australian Government implementation of the Joint Understanding between Papua New Guinea (PNG) and Australia on the Kokoda Track and Owen Stanley Ranges. The Joint Understanding commits Australia to assisting PNG to improve elements of management of the Kokoda Track and Owen Stanley Ranges and to support the development of communities along the Kokoda Track corridor, along with improving the human capacity of key PNG Government agencies. The section is also responsible for assisting with management of the East Rennell World Heritage Area in the Solomon Islands.
My roles in this section included:
- Developed a monitoring and evaluation framework of performance indicators for businesses and other activities within the Kokoda Track Livelihoods Project.
- Contributed to monitoring and coordination of Safety Upgrade Package
- Drafting of ministerial correspondence/briefings
- Involvement in the formulation of a PNG - Australia communications strategy
- Supporting the section with work on the Kokoda Development Program (KDP) and Kokoda Track Authority (KTA)
Second Placement: Policy Analysis and Advice Section, Marine Division
For my second rotation I decided to try a rotation completely outside my comfort zone. Cue Marine Division. Marine introduced me to a fascinating world of species, zoning, climate change and marine debris.
I completed the following work:
- Lead the secretariat preparation for the Marine and Coastal Coordination Committee (MCCC) Meeting
- Collated minutes for Intergovernmental Coastal Advisory Group (ICAG) meeting
- Supported the implementation of the Threat Abatement Plan for Marine Debris
- Conducted a review of AusAID grant processes
- Contract Management
- Various brief, ministerial replies, and correspondence
Third Placement: Water Strategies, Water Reform Division
For my final placement I thought I should see what the fuss over Water was about. Let me tell you, the fuss is called for. The Water Group is huge and could qualify for a department in itself. Taking over the Murray Darling Basin or 14% of Australia's land mass, to reform water distribution and rejuvenate the river systems is no meager task. Water Strategies oversees the government's national water reform agenda, as well as being responsible for international liaison on water issues.
My main responsibilities included:
- Project management outline and plan for India-Australia High Level Water Dialogue
- Preparation for delegations to India and the USA
- Minutes, briefs, correspondence
- Literature Review of the Green Economy
I managed to secure a position the International Projects Section, Heritage Division, where I did my first rotation.
'the best thing about working for us ... is the environment'