Amy - 2010 Graduate Program
New South Wales (NSW)/Australian Capital Territory
University: Australian National University
Qualifications: Bachelor of Arts (Honours) - majoring in Archaeology and Classics
Where I'm from is not really an easy thing to describe as I've lived in many different places, both city and country. My immediate family currently live in Wagga Wagga, so that is 'home' for the present. I spent a fair part of my childhood living on a farm in western Victoria and it was there, among the bits and pieces that accumulate on a farm which is a century and a half old, that my interest in archaeology began. I was fortunate enough to pursue this decade long interest at the Australian National University, Canberra. After graduating, I involved myself in yearly volunteer excavations in Macedonia and have also worked for archaeological consultancy firms in Australia (interspersed with office temp work to keep me out of trouble). After deciding that I wanted to live in Australia and having become disillusioned with the type of archaeology I was involved in while working for consultancy firms, I had two choices for employment- return to the academic world or join a government agency that had portfolios of interest to me. I'm sure you can figure out which of these was my final decision.
First Placement: Historic Heritage North, Heritage Division
For my first rotation, I was placed with Historic Heritage North (I think perhaps my educational background and work experience might have influenced this). Here I was introduced to the world of ministerial correspondence and heritage assessment. I was given to opportunity to research and analyse sites in the Kimberley Area for historic values, which would help this area meet threshold for National Heritage listing. I was fortunate to be given the opportunity to report my findings at the Historic Heritage Experts meeting, which included two members of the Australian Heritage Council. I also developed a 'may have values' report for the Hive's Survivors' Camp Commonwealth Heritage Listing. This required liaison with the NSW Government as it was a joint listing, with the Hive Shipwreck being included on the state heritage list. I was also required to draft a number of ministerials with strict deadlines while completing the other work described above.
Second Placement: Employee Development (Indigenous Development), Corporate Strategies Division
For my second rotation, I wanted to try an area that would give me greater exposure to internal and external stakeholders of the Department. I certainly got this working for Employee Development on the Indigenous Employment and Capability Strategy. I was given the task of developing a handbook for the Indigenous Cadetship Program which set out the roles and responsibilities of all the involved parties. This required liaison with cadets, their supervisors, Operational Support Units of different divisions, the Department of Employment and Workplace Relations and the Australian Public Service Commission (including attending an information session for the 2011 Indigenous cadet recruitment round). I collated and analysed data collected from Individual Career Plans of Indigenous employees so that recommendations for learning and development opportunities could be made. I was also given the chance to network with other Australian Public Service Human Resources coordinators at an Indigenous Human Resources Forum, where we all participated in workshops to come up with solutions to issues made apparent in the 2009 Census Report of Indigenous Australian Public Service employees. I was able to attend a number of Indigenous events, including a Mabo Day breakfast and National Aboriginal Islander Day Observance Committee (NAIDOC) week celebrations.
Third Placement: Caring for our Country Grants, Australian Government Lands and Coasts Division
My third rotation, with Caring for our Country Grants, allowed me to see how a division that is managed jointly across two departments, Department of Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) and Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities (DSEWPaC), is run effectively. I was able to get experience in a purely program area with the applications round for the 2010-11 Community Action Grants coming to a close during the first week of my placement. As such, I gained exposure to the applications and assessment round. I was involved in the National Moderation Panel, in a secretariat role, allowing me to see how the final recommendations for grants to be funded were made. I was then given the opportunity to help draft briefs with these recommendations, which are to be sent for approval to both the Minister of DSEWPaC and the Minister of DAFF. I was also involved in the funding of these grants once the recommendations had been signed off on and in the acquittal and review process of the 2009-10 Community Action Grants, giving me experience in all aspects of this program. There was a lot of database work and records keeping involved in this work, which have greatly developed my database management and records keeping skill.
Final Placement: People Services Section, Australian Government Lands and Coasts Division
My final placement is certainly not where I expected to end up when I joined the department. I had assumed I would end up somewhere in the Heritage Division but while I did enjoy my first placement there, I decided that, for the moment, I am after a role that provides greater interaction with internal and external stakeholders. I got that in both my second and third rotations, so it's no coincidence that my final placement combines these- I am now in an HR role with some responsibilities similar to those I undertook during my second rotation in the Operational Support Unit of the division that I completed my third rotation in. Go figure! And I absolutely love the work I am currently involved in and the people I get to work with. Of course, I haven't given up on archaeology just yet. I plan on attending an excavation during June and July of this year and am lucky to have found myself a role/section that is flexible enough to allow me this time off.
It's my belief that joining the Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts (DSEWPaC) graduate program was the best decision I have made in a long while. The opportunity to try out three different areas of the department was a wonderful experience that allowed me to explore where my interests might lie. The core training I received during the program has been extremely valuable in my day to day work for the department (and will no doubt continue to be so). The support I received from the Graduate Management Team made the transition to the Australian Public Service and office-based work much simpler (and more endurable!). And most importantly, I have made new but lasting friendships with a number of others from my grad cohort and the wider department.
'the best thing about working for us ... is the environment'