Hannah - 2010 Graduate Program



Home State: New South Wales (NSW)/Norfolk Island
University: The University of New England (UNE), Armidale, NSW
Qualifications: Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Laws (UNE)
Diploma of Modern Languages in French (UNE)


I was born and grew up on Norfolk Island - a spectacular and special place to grow up where I developed a strong connection with my natural surroundings. My family moved to the far north coast of NSW where I completed my secondary education. At school I enjoyed being involved with the Environment team which gave me the opportunity to visit many national parks. Having also grown up interested in other languages and cultures, I took the opportunity to participate in a 12 month Rotary Student Exchange Program to French-speaking Belgium. Immersed in a foreign language and culture, I developed a desire to study international relations and law.

I chose to study at the University of New England (Armidale, NSW) primarily due to its country setting. I thrived on being involved in the Armidale community and engaged in many extra-curricular activities that allowed me to explore my interests and passions. After completing my studies, I enjoyed my role as research assistant at the Australian Centre for Agriculture and Law (UNE). This work allowed me to explore the many and increasing intersections between environmental issues with social justice and human rights considerations.

The most important and wonderful thing for me is that the department allows me to explore and pursue work in areas where my many interests and passions overlap and where I feel I can help make a difference in a supportive environment.

A keen cyclist (and advocate of bicycle-tourism) I was also thrilled to join the department's Hartley cycling team were able to help me learn to navigate the dangerous concrete jungle that is Canberra!


First Placement: Water Recovery Policy Section, Water Recovery Branch, Water Efficiency Division

The Water Recovery Policy Section is responsible for the transfer of water entitlements to the Commonwealth purchased under the Restoring the Balance in the Murray Darling Basin (RtB) program ('the buyback'), part of the Australian Government's Water for the Future initiative.

My responsibilities in the Water Recovery Policy Section included:

  • contract management;
  • preparing correspondence and liaising with stakeholders;
  • researching and reporting on a range of information in relation to the RtB program and gauging likely impacts and outcomes; and,
  • contributing to team discussions and planning concerning the future of the RtB program and specifically, its interaction with the Murray Darling Basin Authority's Basin Plan.

Second Placement: Forest Policy Section, Biodiversity Conservation Branch, Land and Coasts Division

The Forest policy Section (now the Ecosystems and Climate Change Section) is responsible for ensuring that the Government's environmental commitments are integrated into the national forest policy agenda and work closely with Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries and Department of Climate Change and Energy Efficiency. The focus of my rotation was the production of End of Program Review for the $3 million Tasmanian Forest Tourism Initiative (TFTI). This report will inform the section and branch's future design and management of programs.

My responsibilities in the Forest Policy Section included:

  • a comprehensive assessment of TFTI's administration and degree of success in achieving program objectives in the form of a report;
  • contributing to team planning in relation to emerging forest and climate change policy and programs; and,
  • assisting with a variety of administrative tasks.

Third Placement: Territories, Environment and Treaties Section, Policy Branch, Australian Antarctic Division (AAD)

I was fortunate enough to be placed in the AAD and assist with the preparations for the 29th meeting of the Convention for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR). The objective of CCAMLR is to conserve marine living resources in the Southern Ocean (a substantially closed ecosystem as a result of the Antarctic Convergence) where conservation includes rational harvesting of living marine resources in the Convention Area.

My role in the CCAMLR team was to assist with:

  • preparation of briefing material and coordinating the Australian Delegation Brief;
  • organisation of the Australian reception for the delegates attending the annual meeting of CCAMLR in Hobart;
  • liaising with various government departments and agencies and seeking agreement on a whole of government policy position; and,
  • interpreting scientific research.
  • This rotation also provided me with the exciting opportunity to represent the work area as an advisor to the CCAMLR meeting as an advisor.

This rotation also provided me with the exciting opportunity to represent the work area as an advisor to the CCAMLR meeting as an advisor.

Final Placement: Compliance Officer, Compliance and Enforcement Branch, Approvals and Wildlife Division

I negotiated successfully for a position in the Compliance and Enforcement Branch and found a home as a Compliance Officer in the Compliance 1 Section. Compliance 1 is responsible for following up on alleged breaches of the EPBC Act in Queensland, Victoria, Tasmania and the Northern Territory. Compliance officers receive and collect information from a wide variety of sources, including councils, state agencies and internal/internal experts to help determine if a significant impact on a matter of national environmental significance is likely. This often requires site visits and collaboration with departmental or state investigators and compliance officers are involved in negotiating or recommending outcomes. EPBC Act remedies and sanctions include conservation agreements, remediation determinations or enforceable undertakings. The Compliance sections also have an educative function which involves holding seminars and workshops on the EPBC Act for councils and interested stakeholders. These sections also provide information and respond to enquiries about the Australian Government's role under the EPBC Act to interested members of the public. This provides a fantastic mix of responsibilities and tasks.

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