Kirsty J - 2010 Graduate Program



Home State: North Queensland
University: The London School of Economics and Political Science
Monash University
Qualifications: Masters- History of International Relations
Bachelor of Arts (History/Politics)

Before joining the Australian Public Service (APS), I spent much of the previous decade hooning about overseas, working in restaurants and nightclubs through Northern Europe and North America. While living in the United Kingdom (UK) I decided it was time to heed the inner pull to return to academic pursuits, and completed my Masters dissertation on the UK-USA 'special relationship' during Indonesia's confrontation with Malaysia in the early 1960s.

Following this I spent a year working for the UK Civil Service in the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and realised that this sort of work indulged my love of politics and the political, and presented the opportunity to be directly involved with policy and programs affecting so many important issues. I also decided it might finally be time to check back in with Australia. Several friends had successfully gone through APS graduate programs and raved about the opportunities they offered. Taken by the department's eclectic portfolio, I decided that Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts was where I wanted to be.


First Placement: Residential Buildings Ratings and Disclosure, Buildings and Government Energy Efficiency Branch, Renewables and Energy Efficiency Division

My first placement found me resident in the field of energy efficiency, so not an area in which I had much knowledge or experience (except in turning off lights when leaving a room). I quickly found that this was a space where things were most definitely happening, particularly so when we were transitioned to become part of the Department of Climate Change and Energy Efficiency. My responsibilities in this rotation included:

  • Researching and drafting chapters for the proposed national residential mandatory disclosure scheme regulation documents;
  • Supporting the ongoing management of the Your Home suite of publications;
  • Contract management; and
  • Preparing discussion papers.

Second Placement: Economic and Strategic Policy, Strategic Advice Branch, Policy and Communications Division (PCD)

I returned to the 'mother ship' for my second rotation, and was fortunate to be placed in the Economic and Strategic Policy section. My experience here was invaluable in terms of gaining an understanding of the length and breadth of fields covered by the department, and in gaining an insight into how Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts (DEWHA) (now Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities) functions as a whole. While in this rotation I worked on:

  • Provision of secretariat support for the Executive Management Group (later the DEWHA Management Board) meetings, and the Agencies Roundtable meeting;
  • The department's new Strategic Plan and Annual Operation Plan;
  • The PCD Division Plan
  • Drafting and preparation of briefing for the Executive and Ministers;
  • Coordination of information requests across the department.

Third Placement: International Projects, International Heritage and Policy, Heritage Division

At last tapping into my passion for the international, my third rotation involved working on the coordination and management of the Australian Government's implementation of the second Joint Understanding between Papua New Guinea and Australia on the Owen Stanley Ranges, Brown River Catchment and Kokoda Track Region. The work involved a large degree of project management and also had a strong communications facet.

Final Placement: Budget Strategy Unit, Strategic Advice Branch, PCD

For my final placement I have landed back in PCD, this time in the Budget Strategy Unit (BSU). I really wanted to return to a central area of the department, and my second rotation supervisor had since transferred over to the BSU and strongly recommended I consider it. The BSU is primarily responsible for managing the development of new policy proposals and budget policy. The work involved provides great exposure to activity across the department and the opportunity to learn how departmental programs and policies are funded through the parliamentary budget process.

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