Kirsty W - 2010 Graduate Program

Kirsten

Background

Home State: New South Wales
University: The University of New England, Armidale
Qualifications: Bachelor of Arts with Honours (physical geography)

I developed a passion for nature, wildlife and the outdoors from a young age, having grown up on grazing properties in the New England region. On one of those properties I was fortunate enough to be surrounded by the greatest diversity of bird species I've seen in one area either before or since. I went to university in Armidale and there discovered the possibilities relating to environmental management and conservation - and the potential for pursuing these careers through the public service.

I found that the Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities and its graduate program had a good reputation. The program offered a wealth of skills training and development opportunities, the chance to meet people from diverse backgrounds and direction for a career in the environment.

Placements

First Placement: Environmental Water Policy Section, Water Governance Division

My work in this section first exposed me to the fascinating topic of environmental watering. I aided the section in their tasks and responsibilities relating to environmental water policy, including the production of the Commonwealth Environmental Water 2008-09 Outcomes Report and a review of environmental water reporting. I gained an understanding of the large and often complex policies and programs run by the Department, whilst developing some valuable technical and communication skills. The supportive atmosphere of the Water Group was an added bonus.

Second Placement: Species Listing Section, Approvals and Wildlife Division

This section works on the listing of threatened species under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999. My main project during the rotation was to investigate and compose a range of documents relating to fourteen species of handfish - small fish that 'walk' on the sea floor. This was a highly interesting project and it enabled me to liaise with staff throughout the Department as well as external stakeholders. I also assisted with Threatened Species Scientific Committee meetings and the drafting of various correspondence. A memorable aspect of this placement was meeting so many staff members who are really passionate about the work they are doing.

Third Placement: Tropical North Marine Conservation Section, Marine Division

My final rotation was in marine bioregional planning and it was an exciting time to be involved in the work of this Division. With increasing recognition of the need for marine conservation, I aided the Section in researching and reporting on the threats affecting various species groups, such as marine turtles and seabirds, in the North Marine Region. I was also able to be involved in stakeholder engagement processes, the drafting of ministerial correspondence, Section administration and a number of Division-level meetings. I enjoyed the opportunity to improve my communication skills whilst learning a lot about marine species.

Final Placement: Species Listing Section, Approvals and Wildlife Division

I was fortunate enough to be able to return to the Species Listing Section for my final placement. Here I continue to work on many different flora and fauna assessments in preparation for the quarterly Threatened Species Scientific Committee meetings.

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