Caitlin - 2010 Graduate Program

Caitlin
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Background

Home State: New South Wales
Qualifications: Bachelor of Laws (Hons)
Bachelor of Arts (Majors: International Relations and Political Science)

I come from a small town in northern New South Wales whose claim to fame is that it was once called "Duck Creek Mountain". I moved to Brisbane to study Law and Governance at the University of Queensland because I loved history and legal studies at school. While at university I was employed and trained in industrial relations and employment law. I really liked this line of work, but wanted to understand the policy behind these legislative frameworks, so decided to move to the public service to gain skills and knowledge in government policy and procedure. After doing some research I found this department offered one of the most comprehensive public service graduate programs, and would allow me to learn more about environmental law and heritage issues. When I heard I was successful in gaining a place, I left industrial relations (and Brisbane) behind, went on a backpacking holiday to Europe and Egypt before coming to Canberra.

What I love about this department is its diversity, which gives you the opportunity to be involved a wide range of areas that are of interest, rather than being stuck working on a single issue. Another benefit is the skills you gain in policy development, corporate functions and program management.

Placements

First Placement: International Heritage Section, International Heritage and Policy Branch, Heritage Division

The International Heritage Section is responsible for progressing the Australian Government's agenda for World Heritage. Australia is currently three-quarters of the way through our term on the World Heritage Committee. Some of the responsibilities of the section include playing a leading role in strengthening the integrity of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) World Heritage Convention and providing support to regional countries to identify and protect their World Heritage sites.

I assisted with the preparation of policy positions and briefing for the UNESCO World Heritage Committee meeting in Brasilia held in July 2010. I worked closely with the International Team, Australia's Commissioner to the World Heritage Committee, and cultural and natural heritage experts on the Australian World Heritage delegation.

This rotation was an amazing opportunity to gain experience in the operation of an international convention and allowed me to develop my interest in international relations and law in a professional, rather than academic, environment.

Second Placement: International Section, Strategic Advice Branch, Policy and Communications Division

My second rotation was in the International Section, which coordinates and represents the department's (and Australia's) positions in key multilateral fora and bilateral dialogues. The issues being covered require us to use expertise from across the department, so lots of consultation is required. It was a great transition to go from my first rotation section that dealt with a specific international convention (the World Heritage Convention) to a section that coordinates the whole department's response to cross-jurisdictional international portfolio issues.

I was involved in writing ministerial briefs, cables and other correspondence. The highlight of my rotation was assisting in preparations for several major international meetings (especially on the reform of international environmental governance). Coordinating whole-of-government positions on portfolio issues appealed to my interest and skills in international law and politics. This rotation was both fascinating and rewarding!

Third Placement: Urban Water and Desalination Section, Urban Water Security Branch, Water Governance Division

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

The Plan funds 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. I was involved in the development and management of funding agreements for a variety of stormwater harvesting projects.

This rotation provided the opportunity to engage directly with stakeholders and be involved in program development and implementation. It also provided a range of interesting and challenging tasks which both broadened my knowledge and honed my project management skills. It was great working in an area that I don't have any background in because it allowed me to develop skills in a whole new area.

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