Trish - 2010 Graduate Program



I have a lifelong passion for marine mammals and for protecting the marine environment. I attended Flinders University and completed two undergraduate degrees (Bachelor of Behavioural Science and Bachelor of Science in Marine Biology). My honours research focused on heavy metal toxicity in South Australia's bottlenose dolphins and I discovered that some dolphins were suffering severe health effects due to their high burdens of environmental pollutants. This research resulted in two publications in international journals, numerous scientific awards and a Letter of Commendation from the Chancellor of Flinders University.

I have participated in many field surveys of cetaceans, including a research cruise to the sub-Antarctic on the Aurora Australis where I had the pleasure of enduring 30m swells! As Chief Investigator, I led a team of researchers in a consultancy designed to assess the impacts of underwater construction noise on bottlenose dolphins.

My PhD research centres on the top-down influences of whales on the marine ecosystem. My first chapter revealed how whales can help us fight climate change.

It was published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society of Biology and gained worldwide media interest and numerous scientific awards including the prestigious "Best Oral Presentation" student award at the recent Biennial Conference on Marine Mammal Biology in Quebec City, Canada.


First Placement: Policy Analysis and Advice

My first rotation, in Marine Division, allowed me to gain some very valuable experience in writing Ministerial and Departmental correspondence, Secretariat responsibilities and gave me a first introduction to attending to an FOI request. My major task was to organise a meeting between Marine Division Branch Heads and the Chief Executive Officers of Australia's non-government environmental organisations. This was a wonderful experience where I gained skills in organising and coordinating a meeting. I enjoyed researching stakeholders so as to provide a thorough briefing pack which covered all topics that might arise during the meeting. My briefing pack was commended by Stephen Oxley, First Assistant Secretary, who asked that future briefing packs in Marine Division be based on the format I designed.

Second Placement: Parks Operation and Support Service, Darwin

For my second rotation, in Parks, I was luck enough to be based in Darwin where I gained a new respect for Human Resources staff. I gained extremely valuable skills in EA interpretation, use of SAP, and Performance and Development Scheme (PDS). I was trained to sit on selection panels and assisted with recruitment of various positions. I also had the wonderful opportunity to travel to Kakadu and train young Indigenous rangers in how to write selection criteria and complete a successful job interview. This was a very rewarding component of my work in Parks.

Third Placement: Product Stewardship Packaging Team

In my third rotation, in Environmental Quality, I had the unexpected pleasure of being able to utilise my love of statistical analyses! I was given the opportunity to analyse recycling data from all Government agencies and compile the 2009-10 Annual Report of the Australian Government for the National Packaging Covenant. I also gained valuable experience in public speaking, when I presented information to external stakeholders. Being able to lean more about environmental economics was a highlight of this rotation.

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