University of Western Australia
Bachelor of Laws/Bachelor of Arts
After stints in Ireland, British Guyana and New Zealand, I grew up in sunny Perth, WA. I took a year off after high school to work in London and 'do' Western Europe like so many backpackers before me, before starting a double degree in Law/Arts at UWA. Admittedly, studying was really a means of passing the time while I saved up for various travels including a ski season in Canada, two months in South East Asia, and a year on exchange in Vienna, Austria. Eventually though, I found myself in my last year of uni, not convinced that I wanted to be a lawyer, and I decided to apply for graduate programs instead.
I chose DEWHA not because I had any relevant qualifications or background - I actually didn't even study environmental law - but purely because I was interested in issues like sustainability and climate change. I thought the graduate program here would be a great opportunity to explore a career path based on topics that I was passionate about, as well as allowing me to work in an setting that was in line with my values - not all about making a profit, and with that elusive work-life balance...
Water Strategies, Water Reform Division
I was slightly nonplussed to discover that my first rotation was to be in Water, an issue that I knew nothing about apart from the fact that there just wasn't enough of it to go round. Undaunted, I armed myself with a copy of the National Water Initiative, deciphered a few of the (many) acronyms that seemed to keep coming up, and threw myself into the variety of work - and what a variety there was. Water Strategies oversees the government's national water reform agenda, as well as being responsible for international liaison on water issues, so I did everything from providing policy advice to senior staff in the Water Group to researching water challenges in other countries, to putting together presentations for visiting delegations. I also got some exposure to briefs and ministerials, as well as providing secretariat support for the COAG Water Sub Group, which is important and useful experience to have.
Legal Section, Policy Coordination Division
To my surprise, I found myself missing the law months into my graduate year, so decided to try a rotation in the Legal Section to see whether law in the government context might be for me. The Legal Section is made up of two teams covering all aspects of DEWHA's portfolio. I worked to both teams, so I my work encompassed a wide range of legal issues and skills, such as reviewing funding agreements, drafting Deeds, providing legal advice and statutory interpretation. I really enjoyed the work as I found it to be varied and interesting, and I was able to see a number of matters through from beginning to end during my three month rotation.
Regional Arts, Arts Division
The Regional Arts section is responsible for managing four funding programs that seek to improve regional access and involvement in the Arts - the Contemporary Music Touring Program, Festivals Australia, Playing Australia and the Regional Arts Fund. During my rotation I processed acquittals, attended a Committee meeting, and learned about all aspects of program management. This was a really useful rotation for me as I increased my drafting skills by writing minutes, letters and briefs, and became familiar with DEWHA's financial processes. Even if you're not sure if you want to work in a program area after the graduate year, it's helpful to have an understanding of how it all works.
Arts Support, Arts Division
After having done my three rotations, I decided to stay in the Arts Division, and am now working in the Arts Support section. This is primarily a policy section, responsible for issues relating to the contemporary music industry, and Arts welfare and social security. My work currently focuses on protecting artists' copyright and increasing awareness of intellectual property rights, and assisting as secretariat support for a number of Cultural Ministers Council working groups including the Indigenous Intellectual Property Toolkit working group, and the Contemporary Music Development working group.
It's not where I expected to be working this year, but that's the great thing about the graduate program - you can try out different areas and find yourself going in a direction you hadn't previously considered.
the best thing about working for us ... is the environment