Jim - 2011 Graduate Program

Universities

  • The University of Melbourne
  • Hitotsubashi University, Japan

Qualifications

  • Bachelor of Laws (Honours)
  • Diploma in Modern Language (Japanese)
  • Graduate Diploma in Legal Practice

Background

After finishing my law degree and being admitted to practise law, I knew that I didn't want to work in a commercial law firm (at least to begin with) and therefore decided to try out the public service.

I applied for the Department's graduate program because I felt it would be a great opportunity to make a real difference to the Australian environment while developing a broad range of skills.

Placements

First Placement: Legal Section, Policy and Communications Division

The Legal Section provides legal advice to the Department on matters ranging from contracts for procuring products or services to specific line-area queries about their activities.

The advantage of being placed in the Legal Section for my first rotation was that I was exposed to all areas of the Department and their activities. This enabled me to forge lasting relationships with people all over the Department.

The variety of work was surprising. I drafted legal advice on a wide range of matters such as Australia's Antarctic activities, water entitlement sale contracts, the regulation of ozone and synthetic gasses and lighting works in one of the Department's buildings.

Second Placement: Product Stewardship E-waste Team, Environmental Quality Division

The Product Stewardship E-waste Team is one of four teams in the Waste Policy Branch involved in developing and implementing the National Television and Computer Product Stewardship Scheme. This Scheme will require television and computer importers and manufacturers to sponsor the recycling of a volume of e-waste equivalent to the volume of products they import.

During my time working on the Scheme I was exposed to many different types of work. I helped to develop policy concerning both the occupational health and safety practices of recyclers operating under the scheme, and the environmental standards recyclers will have to meet when recycling hazardous waste televisions and computers.

The second main area of my work was liaison with stakeholders. The E-waste team provided secretariat support for two large groups of stakeholders: the Implementation Working Group (comprising state and key industry representatives who provided assistance in developing the Scheme) and the Stakeholder Reference Group (consisting of about 80 organisations including importers, manufacturers and recyclers). As part of the secretariat function I conversed with stakeholders by telephone and email, arranged and attended meetings, and prepared briefing material.

Lastly, I assisted with some of the section's administrative tasks. I was in charge of a procurement of a consultancy from start to finish, and through this learnt about the Department's corporate guidelines and policies. I also drafted several ministerial briefings, question time briefs, responded to co-ordination tasks, led team meetings and helped with budget forecasting.

Third Placement: Bureau of Meteorology Review Taskforce

I chose to work on the Bureau of Meteorology Review for my third rotation because I thought it would be a real challenge - in terms of the substance and amount of work.

The Review was tasked with undertaking a thorough assessment of the Bureau's capacity to respond to future extreme weather and natural disaster events, and provide accurate and timely seasonal forecasting services.

I was one member of a team of three people working on the Taskforce, so I was involved in plenty of meetings with high-level departmental staff and external parties.

The first month of the rotation involved meeting with significant Bureau customers, extracting data from questionnaires and submissions, and collating all the feedback into meaningful issues to be incorporated into the Review's report.

The remainder of the rotation involved the drafting and refining of the report, which will likely have a major impact on the future of the Bureau of Meteorology.

Final Placement - Executive Support Section, Policy and Communications Division

For my final placement, I moved to the section responsible for providing support to the Secretary and Deputy Secretaries, and coordination over the whole Department. Working to prepare the Agenda and documents for the Portfolio Business Meeting between the Minister, Secretary and Deputy Secretaries was a great opportunity to find out about how the Department interacts with the Minister's office, and the projects and programs the Executive regards as important.

And beyond - Sustainability Policy and Indicators Section, Sustainability Policy and Analysis Division

About a month and a half into my final placement, I was contacted by a previous supervisor about a job opportunity to work on the Sustainability Indicators project. The aim of this project is to develop a set of indicators to deliver reliable, relevant and accessible information on stocks and flows of economic, human, natural and social capital which will in turn support consideration of sustainability issues in decision-making and planning at national and community levels.

My work in this Section includes meeting with government and non-government stakeholders and using their input to refine the indicators in preparation for their publication.

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