Alice - 2010 Graduate Program

Alice

Background

I completed an Honours degree in English at the University of Sydney in 2008. I applied for the Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities graduate program because I was drawn to the department's diverse range of portfolio responsibilities. I was also interested in gaining an understanding of the workings of government, and the ways in which policy is formulated and implemented.

Placements

First Placement: Literature and Lending Rights Section, Culture Division

In this rotation I mainly worked on the Prime Minister's Literary Awards, which involved providing secretariat support to the judging panels, drafting briefs and ministerial correspondence, dealing with stakeholder enquiries, and processing Awards entries when they arrived. I also assisted with the work of the Lending Rights team, which administers the Public Lending Right and Educational Lending Right programs. This rotation gave me great experience in the administration of high-profile government programs.

Second Placement: Tropical North Marine Conservation Section, Marine Division

In my second rotation I wanted to work in an area that was completely outside of my previous experience, so I put in a bid for the Marine Division. I worked in the team responsible for drafting a marine bioregional plan and identifying a network of marine protected areas for the North Marine Region, as part of the national marine bioregional planning process. This was an invaluable opportunity to experience first-hand the work involved in the implementation of a complex and sometimes controversial policy such as marine bioregional planning. My duties included drafting ministerial correspondence and briefings, collating and analysing data, attending stakeholder engagement working group meetings, and providing a daily media summary. As I have no background in science or environmental management, this rotation challenged me to learn about unfamiliar issues, policies and programs. I found this challenge very rewarding.

Third Placement: Economic and Strategic Policy Section, Policy and Communications Division

In my third rotation I assisted my Section with providing secretariat support and strategic briefing to the Executive and the Minister's Office. In particular I helped my team to brief departmental staff for the weekly Portfolio Business Meetings, attended by the Minister and the Secretary. I also worked on the department's Heritage Strategy, a guiding document outlining how the department should identify and conserve any heritage values associated with places under its control. This rotation taught me about how the department works as a whole and how it interacts with the Minister's Office, and gave me the chance to work on high-level briefs and documents.

Final Placement: Tropical North Marine Conservation Section, Marine Division

For my final placement I negotiated to return to my second rotation section. I am currently analysing information and drafting supporting documents regarding protected species for the draft North marine region bioregional plan. I enjoy broadening my knowledge of environmental management and biodiversity conservation, and being a part of a large and significant policy initiative, through the work of this section.

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