Shelley - 2010 Graduate Program



Home State: New South Wales
Qualifications:Bachelor of Arts (English Literature/Politics)
Bachelor of Laws
Graduate Diploma of Legal Practice

Whilst at Uni, I worked for various non-government organisations before securing a job in my penultimate year as a paralegal in a commercial law firm. Following graduation, I worked as a solicitor in private practice, where I specialised in family law. I applied for a job with the Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities (DSEWPaC) because I wanted a change in lifestyle, and because of my interest in the environment, public advocacy and legal reform.


First Placement: Urban Water Security, Urban Water Efficiency Initiatives Section

As part of a team that delivered the Government's Water for the Future program, my responsibilities included:

  • working with industry to promote creative and technological approaches to water saving
  • assessing community grant applications against selection criteria and providing recommendations based on my assessment
  • drafting Question Time Briefs, ministerial letters and talking points (speeches) for the Minister
  • drafting material for DSEWPaC's website

Second Placement: Environment and Treaties Section, Antarctic Territories, Australian Antarctic Division

For the second rotation I was fortunate enough to secure a position in the Antarctic Division in Tasmania. As a Graduate Legal Officer, my responsibilities included:

  • providing legal advice to expeditioners, staff and community members
  • drafting legal instruments, including Explanatory Memorandum, Regulatory Impact Statements, and delegations;
  • arranging for the Gazettal of specially protected species in accordance with Antarctic legislation
  • assisting in the development an educational campaign on changes to Antarctic legislation

Aside from working on Antarctic issues, I also got to live in Tasmania for 3 months which was a truly memorable experience.

Third Placement: Indigenous Heritage Law Reform, Heritage Division

I chose this rotation because of my interest in Indigenous policy and because it provided a valuable opportunity to be involved in legislative reform.

My responsibilities in this section included:

  • assessing applications under the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Heritage Protection Act 1984 (ATSIHP Act)
  • liaising with applicants and interested parties in accordance with administrative law requirements
  • drafting case notes and summaries of authoritative interpretations
  • liaising with barristers and other senior legal officers on interpretation of the law and assessments under the ATSIHP Act

Final Placement: Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation (EPBC) Review Taskforce, Approvals and Wildlife Division

Working in this section has provided me with the opportunity to be directly involved in reform of the EPBC Act, which is Australia's key piece of environmental legislation. Responsibilities include:

  • Developing a government response to the EPBC Review and preparing cabinet documents
  • Meeting regularly with the Minister to develop the government response and to determine policy
  • Liaising with government agencies, industry, and non-government organisations in the development of a reform package
  • Preparing drafting instructions

It's really rewarding to be able to be involved in the development of environmental policy and legislation.

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