Publications archive

Elyse

Home State

New South Wales - Newcastle and Sydney

University

University of Newcastle
University of Leeds UK (Study Abroad exchange)

Qualifications

B Development Studies (Economic Development and Globalisation)
B Business (International Business)

Background

I think I can best be described as 'eclectic' - my life, education and work have jumped from one extreme to another, whilst also taking in everything in between. I was born in Sydney, but spent most of my teenage years in Newcastle where I completed the first part of my secondary education, before returning to Sydney to complete my HSC. My passion for international development and social issues became apparent when I announced to my family that I would be moving back to Newcastle to attend University - at the time, it was only one of two institutions that offered Development Studies (the other was Flinders in SA!).

The course was everything I thought it would be - challenging, informative, thought-provoking, and incredibly exciting - but I realised that what I was learning was not actually enough in this economically contrived world and so I also took on a Business degree. This put me in the unique position of being the only student to ever graduate from the University with such a combination of qualifications.

During my 3rd year I got ants in my pants and decided to combine some overseas travel with study. At the University of Leeds I was able to undertake a study abroad exchange for one semester, whilst also unknowingly prepare myself for Canberra winters! Upon my return to Newcastle an opportunity arose to undertake a year-long volunteer placement in the Philippines through the Australian Youth Ambassadors for Development (AYAD) program. This allowed to me to put into practice all the development theory I had been learning for the previous 4 years. I worked with a farmer's rights and sustainable/organic agriculture advocacy organisation as their 'Information Project Officer'. I helped research and write education materials on genetically modified rice varieties, as well as produce a film on the issue, and traipse through a myriad of rice fields, among many other incredible experiences.

When I returned to Australia I moved back to Sydney and ended up working for a multinational corporate finance firm (see, the Business degree did come inĀ  handy!), where I stayed for almost 18months until my commencement with DEWHA. During this time I completed my studies through distance education and rode the start of the wave of the 'Global Financial Crisis'. I realised pretty quickly that whilst I loved the company and the people I worked with, I was not exactly keen on a career in the superannuation and investment services industry.

As I neared the end of my second degree I applied for a few government grad programs, but the one I really wanted was DEWHA - and I got it. Everything I knew about the work of the department and the grad program indicated to me that it was incomparable in regards to aligning with my personal values and where I did want to go with my career. I can comprehensively say that the department and the grad program and exceeded my expectations, and I honestly can't see myself going anywhere soon.

Placements

First Placement

Employee Development Section, People Management Branch, Corporate Strategies Division

This section delivers HR strategies, programs, and learning and development support for all DEWHA staff to benefit from. I worked primarily on a research project for developing an evaluation strategy for the 'Leadership Development Program (LDP). This involved extensive collaboration with external consultants and other departmental staff to determine the best methodologies and courses of action to source appropriate information on several key aspects of the LDP. I was also able to participate in the LDP residential and other workshops, which provided me with opportunities to discover more about the roles and responsibilities of EL and SES staff in the department.

As a result of this rotation, I was able to comprehensively develop my project management skills, as well as learning about leadership development in the APS. I was also exposed to the procurement and contract management processes of the department.

Second Placement

Strategic Approvals West, Approvals and Legislation Branch, Approvals and Wildlife Division

This team administers a section of the Environment Protection Biodiversity Conservation (EPBC) Act. Strategic Approvals (or Assessments as they are more accurately known) aim to provide a more comprehensive temporal and spatial analysis of proposed policies, programs or plans than the 'business as usual' environmental assessments that are applied on a project-by-project basis.

Current assessments being undertaken include the Melbourne Urban Growth Boundary (East team) and the Kimberly Liquid Natural Gas Hub (West team).

During my rotation, I worked with both the West and East teams on various assessments that were being proposed and undertaken. This gave me a thorough understanding of the application of the EPBC Act and the assessment of matters of National Environmental Significance. I was also involved with developing a comprehensive assessment framework and related documentation processes to be utilised by both teams.

Third and Final Placements

National Urban Water & Desalination Plan, Urban Water Security Branch, Water Governance Division

The National Urban Water & Desalination Plan is a $1 billion commitment by the Australian Government under 'Water for the Future' to help secure water supplies in Australian cities with populations of 50,000 and above.

This Plan funds a variety of stormwater harvesting, water recycling and desalination programs and projects, including the two National Centres of Excellence in Desalination (Perth) and Water Recycling (Brisbane) and the Adelaide Desalination Plant.

During my rotation I was involved in the assessment process for the Stormwater Harvesting and Reuse projects first round, briefing the Minister for Water on various programs and issues, and the project management of the National Centre of Excellence in Water Recycling.

I was also fortunate enough to become involved in discussions and negotiations to take the Australian Government's urban water policies and programs to the Shanghai World Expo in 2010.

I negotiated to stay in this team for my final placement, however I was successful in gaining a promotion into another team in my Branch within one week of completing the Graduate Program. I was very sad to leave my 3rd rotation team, however the opportunity to work in the area of Cities & Towns (less than 50,000 people) was too good to pass up.


'the best thing about working for us ... is the environment'