Bonnie - 2010 Graduate Program



Home State: Victoria
Qualifications: Bachelor of Arts - Major in Anthropology
Bachelor of Sciences (Honours) - Major in Geography and Environmental Science

I grew up on a farm in Victoria, and from a very young age I was taught about the importance of a healthy environment for a strong economy, society and culture.

In my science degree I focused on environmental policy and ecology, and in my arts degree I focused on anthropology and social justice issues, including Indigenous rights. In my later years of university I merged my interests in both my arts and science degrees to investigate the relationships between the natural environment and people, by studying the impacts of environmental policies and conditions on social justice and culture.

I was lucky enough to complement my studies with both paid and voluntary work in a number of Melbourne based NGOs concerned with addressing social disadvantage and promoting environmental sustainability.


First Placement: Program Performance Section, Australian Government Land and Coasts Division

During this rotation I assisted with collecting, analysing and summarising data on projects funded through the Caring for our Country initiative. Collecting the data gave me a great opportunity to work with a number of different teams throughout the Australian Government Land and Coasts Division. I gained a comprehensive understanding of Caring for our Country projects throughout Australia; what they are, how they operate and challenges that they face. Importantly, summarising the data towards the end of the rotation gave me an overview of the extent to which projects contribute to meeting the overall objectives of Caring for our Country.

Second Placement: Water Governance Division - Water Smart Australia Section

This rotation gave me the opportunity to assist in the management of water infrastructure and research projects. I gained fundamental skills in project management, including the management of funding deeds and accessing milestone reports and payments. As the Water Smart Australia (WSA) program is concluding in 2011, I also had the opportunity to assist with the collection and dissemination of the key learnings from the program. This gave me a great understanding of how to overcome some of the challenges in managing large scale water infrastructure and research projects. I also had the opportunity to travel with my section to see one of the projects that WSA funds. While on the trip, I liaised with the project managers from state and local government, and spoke to farmers and community members who benefit directly from the project.

Third Placement: Parks Australia Division - International Biodiversity Policy Section

In my third rotation I assisted with the preparations for Australia's participation in the tenth Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD COP10). My work involved:

  • assisting with the logistics and organisation of the trip
  • drafting of policy position briefs
  • drafting Ministerial briefs
  • assisting the communications team with media inquiries.

To do my work in this rotation effectively, I had to consider and understand a number of different factors which impacted upon Australia's participation at CBD COP10. These included; other international Conventions and Protocols to which Australia is signatory, national and international current affairs, and the positions of different Commonwealth government departments and agencies. The latter involved extensive consultation with other government departments and agencies to understand and incorporate their points of view into our overall policy position.

Final Placement: Water Reform Division- Aquatic Ecosystems Policy

I am currently working on the North Australian Water Futures Assessment (NAWFA). The NAWFA provides funding for research projects which will provide us with the science needed to inform the development and protection of Northern Australia's water resources so that development is ecologically, culturally and economically sustainable. This placement gives me exposure to the latest research on water resources in the north, which shapes current debates about water management and supply options and which will inform future policy. I am currently managing a project on Indigenous participation in water management, which is of direct relevance to my studies on social justice and environmental policy.

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