Hana - 2011 Graduate Program


  • Curtin University


  • Bachelor of Science
  • Bachelor of Environmental Biology (Hons)
  • Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Japanese


Growing up in a range of locations across Western Australia, I was provided with many opportunities to interact with the natural environment, particularly through family camping holidays. However it wasn't until after I decided to study environmental biology at university that I realized that this was where my passion lied.

I was lucky enough to gain a wide range of work experience during my university studies in both paid and voluntary work. This included tracking a range of critters (including ringtail possums and noisy scrub birds) through forests and thick scrub, undertaking vegetation and scat surveys in the mid-west and south-west of WA, cooking udon and snowboarding in a ski resort in Japan for five months, and working on a gold mine near Kalgoorlie as a vacation student.

After all of this fun in the outdoors, I decided to apply for a nice comfy desk job with the federal government. This was mostly because I saw it as a place I could work more directly to improve environmental outcomes: by being part of the decision making process and having input into policy. It was also partially because I was a bit sick of wearing fluorescent clothes, sunscreen and steel cap boots to work, and was looking forward to spending some quality time indoors at a desk.


First Placement: Species Listing Section, Wildlife Branch, Heritage and Wildlife Division

Having come to the department straight out of studying science at university, a rotation in Species Listing was a perfect start to the grad year. The work in this section was quite technical at times, perfect for anyone with a science background who is interested in species conservation (i.e. Me!). The main work of the section is listing threatened species under the EPBC Act. My major project during this rotation was the reassessment of the status of six threatened Queensland species (five plants and a bird). It involved a lot of research and liaison with both staff in the department as well as stakeholders in Queensland. I drafted a range of documents around these six species, and eventually took my findings to the Threatened Species Scientific Committee, a panel of senior scientists from all over Australia who fact check the work before species can be listed under the Act. One of the other highlights of this rotation was working with a great bunch of people: they were fun and friendly and gave me a very warm welcome to Canberra.

Second Placement: Water Quality Policy Section, Aquatic Systems Health Branch, Water Reform Division

I was very happy to end up In the Water Quality Policy Section for my second rotation. With a good mix of policy and science, the work done in the section always kept me engaged. Here I assisted in preparing briefings, undertook some research into storm water recycling projects around Australia, got a taste for project management and the procurement process, and gained exposure to the review process of key Government guidelines. I got to attend a number of seminars, presentations and meetings on water related issues, which allowed me to gain a great overview of water policy. I also got the chance to be involved in some EPBC Act work, in the form of assessing a few referrals from a water quality perspective. Work in the Water Quality Policy Section was a very valuable experience; I learnt a lot about the difficulties and controversies surrounding water policy n Australia, and I received a fantastic mix of responsibilities and tasks.

Third Placement: Budget Strategies Unit, Strategic Advice Branch, Policy and Communications Division

Budget Strategies: the name alone threatens to put non-accountants straight to sleep inside 30 seconds. Despite the not-so-inspiring title, I thought I'd try something different and give Budget Strategies a try for my third and final rotation- what better way to stretch yourself than to go to an area you know absolutely nothing about, right? It turned out to be a great experience, giving me an invaluable insight into the inner workings of the public service, and the processes that go on behind the scenes to keep the department running. The key work of the section is to help develop the Portfolio's Budget, an almost year long process which finishes on Budget night in May each year. While in this rotation I was involved in; reviewing New Policy Proposals, drafting the Portfolio Budget Letter, organizing a workshop and drafting a range of briefing for departmental executive. I definitely learnt the most from this rotation, and the knowledge and the skills I have gained in the budget area are ones that will stick with me throughout my future career in the public service. I enjoyed the tight deadlines and high pressure work environment, and the exposure to activities, programs and policies across the entire department.

Final Placement - Western Australia and South Australia Section, Environmental Assessment Branch, Environmental Assessment and Compliance Division

At the end of the graduate year I gained a position as an Environmental Assessment Officer in the Western Australian and South Australian (WASA) Section. With tight timeframes and an abundance of work, there is rarely a dull moment in Assessments; I am always being challenged and learning something new. I've found it very rewarding so far; particularly the ongoing negotiation and consultation with stakeholders in an effort to gain good environmental outcomes. I've also had the chance to apply my knowledge and understanding of Western Australian ecosystems, flora and fauna, and have gained experience in interpreting and applying provisions of the EPBC Act relevant to the assessment process.

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