Josh - 2011 Graduate Program


  • University of New South Wales
  • Macquarie University


  • Master of International Law and International Relations (UNSW)
  • Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Laws (MU)


For me, joining the Australian Public Service (APS), through the Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities (DSEWPaC) Graduate Program, represented an exciting opportunity to make an important and meaningful contribution to the future policy direction of Australia while working in a dynamic, diverse and challenging environment.

Having spent much of the last five or so years studying, volunteering or working abroad, I was keen to progress my career in an environment where I could use the skills that I had developed toward issues of national importance to Australia and Australians.

During this time, I developed a strong commitment to and understanding of the principles of sustainable development, including an appreciation of the important role a healthy natural environment plays in driving positive development outcomes. DSEWPaC therefore seemed like the perfect fit.

I was also attracted to the DSEWPaC Graduate Program by the quality opportunities for professional and personal development it offered. DSEWPaC was also known to me to be a high performing organisation with a culture of cooperation and collaboration, and ultimately as an employer of choice within the APS.


First Placement: Conservation Policy Section, Biodiversity Conservation Branch, Land and Coasts Division

The Conservation Policy Section has responsibility for managing the implementation of the National Biodiversity Strategy and the review of the Native Vegetation Framework. These policies are overarching whole-of-government policy frameworks designed to guide actions, programs, policies and activities across Australia.

During my time with the Conservation Policy Section, I had the opportunity to observe high-level intergovernmental negotiations on future policy directions, contribute to coordination matters in which the section was involved and gain exposure to a wide variety of policy and program areas in DSEWPaC, other Australian Government departments, state and territory governments, and non-government organizations.

My responsibilities in the Conservation Policy Section included:

  • assisting in the finalisation of the Native Vegetation Framework review;
  • liaising with departmental and interdepartmental stakeholders, committees and state/territory representatives through meetings and correspondence;
  • consultation with key stakeholders during the whole-of-government consultation process;
  • revising the policy to reflect consultation outcomes; and
  • assisting with general policy tasks, such as drafting ministerial correspondence, Question Time Briefs and responses to coordination requests.

Second Placement: International Policy and Projects Section, Heritage North Branch, Heritage Division

The International Policy and Projects Section has responsibility for managing international heritage projects, including a four year program of assistance to Papua New Guinea to protect the Kokoda Track - the Kokoda Initiative (KI). The KI continues work being done by the Australian and Papua New Guinean Governments on the sustainable development of the Owen Stanley Ranges, Brown River Catchment and Kokoda Track Region and the protection of its special natural, cultural and historic values.

The work of the section involves undertaking program design and implementation; fostering bilateral relationships with counterpart agencies; maintaining relationships with stakeholders both overseas and in Australia; leading and coordinating Australian Government policy in relation to the above programs; and providing advice in natural and cultural heritage protection, protected area and resource management, tourism and community development activities.

My responsibilities in the International Policy and Projects Section included:

  • undertaking an internal performance review on IPPS management of selected Kokoda Initiative projects;
  • contributing to the development of a project plan and funding agreements for a number of key KI projects;
  • contributing to the departmental work of the section, including providing Request for Quote documents, contracts and claim for payment forms.

Third Placement: Territories, Environment and Treaties Section, Strategies Branch, Australian Antarctic Division

For my third rotation, I was fortunate enough to undertake a placement at the Australian Antarctic Division in Tasmania.

The Territories, Environment and Treaties Section has a key role in administering the Australian Antarctic Territory and the Territory of Heard Island and McDonald Islands, with a focus on environmental management and the legal regime of territorial administration and environmental protection. It also develops and advances Australian policy positions on various international agreements, including the Antarctic Treaty and the Convention on the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR). As a member of the CCAMLR team, I was involved in the development and implementation of Australia's strategy for the Thirtieth Meeting of the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources.

My responsibilities in the Territories, Environment and Treaties Section included:

  • preparation of briefing material and coordinating the Australian Delegation Brief for CCAMLR XXX;
  • liaising with relevant government agencies, the AAD Science Branch and other stakeholders on preparations for CCAMLR XXX; and
  • providing support to members of the Australian Delegation up to and during the meeting.

This rotation allowed me to gain an insight into how international environmental policy and science translates into management action. It also offered me the exciting opportunity to attend CCAMLR XXX as part of the Australian Delegation, not to mention the unique opportunity to live and work in Tasmania for three months.

Final Placement - Biodiversity Fund, Land Sector Taskforce

I have been successful in securing a position with the Biodiversity Fund team. The Biodiversity Fund is an important measure within the Australian Government's Clean Energy Future Plan which will provide $946.2 million over its first six to support projects that reduce Australia's carbon pollution and improve the resilience of our ecosystems to the impacts of climate change. This is an exciting and dynamic space in which to be involved and I am enjoying being a part of it!

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