Rithy - 2010 Graduate Program



Home State: Victoria
University: Deakin University
Qualifications: Bachelor of Arts (Chinese) / Bachelor of Commerce (International Business)

I started my career in the community sector, working with young homeless people. The service provides young homeless people with emergency accommodation, while at the same time helping them link back into the community (employment, education and training, etc). Serving in this role, my passion to contribute back to the community became more prominent and I soon found myself wanting to play a larger role in this service. I decided to join the then Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts (currently the Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities) as I have strong interests and passion in all the key portfolios.

I was fortunate enough to be accepted into the 2010 Graduate Program; which so far has been a great learning and development opportunity for me. The program has enabled me to experience and contribute in roles and capacities that wouldn't have been available in any other employment streams. Working for the Department has been both challenging and rewarding.


First Placement: On Farm Irrigation Efficiency Section, Basin Communities and On Farm Branch, Water Efficiency Division

In my first placement I joined a fairly small team responsible for implementing and administering the Australian Government's On Farm Irrigation Efficiency Program in the southern Murray-Darling Basin. The program's purpose is to provide funding to upgrade on farm irrigation infrastructure and improve water use efficiency in return for transferring a portion of the resulting water savings to the Government for environmental purposes.

I was able to learn about the different aspects of project and program management and the processes involved in ensuring successful engagement with external consultants. As the result of the stage one, round one assessment was announced during my placement, I had the opportunity to draft the Media Release for the Minister's announcement. Apart from providing input into Coords and the Prime Minister's electorate visit information, I also had the opportunity to edit and produce the program's Communication Strategy.

Second Placement: Strategic Policy and Governance Section, Business Systems and Governance Branch, Approvals and Wildlife Division (AWD)

This placement was a great opportunity to gain an insight into the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (the EPBC Act). In addition, the placement enabled me to gain a working knowledge on business systems design by providing direct input into work related to the AWD Business Systems Project, a leading-edge business redesign project to improve decision making and build capacity within AWD. The project will influence the administration of the EPBC Act into the future, and involved engagement with internal and external stakeholders, the design and implementation of a new business model for AWD, and substantial change management.

Third Placement: International Section, Strategic Advice Branch, Policy Coordination Division

This placement provided a unique opportunity for me to contribute to work on international environmental engagements the Department has with the international community. My team is responsible for engagements with the South East Asian region, including the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN), United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP), Japan, South Korea, etc. To date, I have contributed to the preparation of the 19th session of the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD 19) by providing input into updating the Discussion Paper on CSD 19.

In addition, this placement has also given me an opportunity to practice my project management skills. I am currently managing a project to establish an intranet space dedicated to providing information on international volunteering, known as the International Volunteering Information Network Project (Project IVIN). To date, I have completed the Project Outline, assembled a project team, and I am in the process of coordinating the development of the Project Plan. The project is expected to be completed at the end of the third placement.

Final Placement: Air Quality Section, Environment Standards Branch, Environment Quality Division

In this placement, I have been exposed to Regulatory Impact Statements (RIS) and the processes involved in developing new policy and legislation. Earlier on in my placement, I was given responsibilities to work on Woodheaters and Non-Road Spark Ignition Engines and Equipment (NRSIEE). Some of the things I have worked on so far include:

  • Overseeing and keeping track of progress on the Woodheaters project;
  • Developing a legislative bid;
  • Organising and facilitating the Air Quality Section Planning;
  • Contributing to a Senate Estimates Fact Sheet; and
  • Developing a Sponsorship Proposal for the 20th Clean Air Society of Australia and New Zealand (CASANZ) Conference.

In addition to these tasks, I have also responded to a number of ministerials and enquiries from members of the community.

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