Ellie - 2010 Graduate Program

Ellie

Background

Home State: New South Wales
University: University of New South Wales (NSW)
University of Oxford
Qualifications: Bachelor of International Studies (combined honours)
Master of Philosophy in Russian and East European Studies

Before joining Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities (DSEWPaC) as a graduate, I completed a Masters in Russian Studies at Oxford, which allowed me to combine my two great loves of Russian and environmental politics. I spent two great years amongst the dreaming spires, pouring over Russian forestry legislation, government decrees and minutes from parliamentary hearings. On occasions I managed to escape, and travelled widely throughout Central Asia, Russia and the Caucasus.

Before that I completed a Bachelors degree in International Studies at the University of NSW, focusing on politics, international relations, and Russian language, and spent a year in St Petersburg on exchange. My honours thesis was about the gradual decline in interest in environmental issues on the part of the Russian government, from the promising days of perestroika to today.

I am enjoying exploring environmental politics and policy-making in an Australian context, and DSEWPaC is a great place to do that.

Placements

First Placement: Water Smart Australia, Urban Water Security Branch, Water Governance Division

The Water Smart Australia program aims to accelerate the development and uptake of smart technologies and practices in water use across Australia.

This rotation provided a great way of gaining experience in project management, and I was given a range of tasks from managing funding agreements, to monitoring the progress of projects. There were opportunities for project site visits and attending project announcements to the media. This rotation also involved plenty of practice writing ministerial briefs, electorate briefing, media release and announcement events, and drafting correspondence.

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

The International Heritage section is responsible for international heritage policy, including World Heritage Committee meetings, strategy and membership, and works on building World Heritage capacity in the Pacific.

Australia was elected to the UNESCO World Heritage Committee for a four year term in 2008, and I was fortunate enough to be able to help with preparations for the 34th World Heritage Committee meeting, held in Brazil in July. This involved assisting with the Australian delegation brief and policy papers, and many research and writing tasks related to World Heritage.

Third Placement: International Section, Strategic Advice Branch, Policy and Communication Division

The International Section is responsible for engaging on behalf of Australia in a range of multilateral environment forums and bilateral environment activities.

My work in this section has involved co-ordination across the portfolio and with external agencies such as Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. I have been involved in supporting preparations for upcoming meetings in which whole-of-government positions need to be coordinated and briefing prepared; such as the United Nations Environment Programme-facilitated ministerial/high-level consultations on reform of international environmental governance. I have also worked on trade and environment issues.

Final Placement: Natural Heritage East, Heritage Division

Natural Heritage East is responsible for the management and protection of Australia's National and World Heritage sites in the Eastern half of Australia. My role involves assisting with the management of projects in relation to the Wet Tropics of Queensland and the Great Barrier Reef.

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