Marika - 2011 Graduate Program

Universities

  • The University of Melbourne
  • Deakin University

Qualifications

  • Bachelor of Arts (majoring in History and Chinese)
  • Masters of Cultural Heritage

Background

Through my study and work experiences I became passionate about heritage and interested in the correlation between heritage protection, environmental sustainability and social cohesion. While I was studying, I volunteered at an 1850s German settler cottage and a heritage-listed art gallery. I also undertook two subjects overseas - I studied Renaissance and Baroque art and architecture in Rome, and in Laos I worked closely with a small community to develop their amazing heritage site at the limestone caves which housed the Lao Communist resistance during the Vietnam War. These experiences fuelled my love for travel, history and cultural exchange.

After finishing study and working for some months at a heritage tourism site in Melbourne, I was keen to try something new. As Australia's peak body dealing with my specialty, this department seemed the obvious choice. Yet it was the great diversity of experiences, challenges and opportunities the department offered - in particular the excellent graduate program - that made it so appealing.

Placements

First Placement: International Heritage Section, International Heritage and Policy Branch, Heritage Division

The International Heritage Section was responsible for coordinating Australia's implementation of the World Heritage Convention. In 2011, Australia also completed its four-year term on the World Heritage Committee. This term provided an opportunity for Australia to influence the future direction of the Convention and implement a number of programs in the region to help countries identify, list and protect their most outstanding heritage sites.

During this rotation, I helped prepare the Australian delegation for various international meetings (including a State of Conservation meeting in Africa and the World Heritage Committee meeting in Paris), managed a funding agreement between Australia and UNESCO Jakarta to support conservation works at the Borobudur temple site, provided input to the Strategic Action Plan Australia put forward at the World Heritage Committee meeting and produced a publication to guide Australia's World Heritage site managers on their use of the World Heritage emblem.

This rotation suited my background perfectly and I really enjoyed getting involved in heritage policy at an international level. It provided an amazing opportunity to understand and support the work Australia does to encourage and guide heritage protection both domestically and throughout the region.

Second Placement: Northern Basin Delivery Section, Environmental Water Branch, Water Governance Division

As part of Murray-Darling Basin reforms, the Australian Government is acquiring water entitlements, aiming to return more water for environmental benefit. These entitlements are acquired through direct buybacks of water entitlements and managed so that increased flows are provided to rivers and wetlands. The Northern Basin Delivery Section delivers water to the Basin's northern catchments.

My primary task during this rotation was to work on the Water Use Strategy documents that guide the delivery of environmental water for the following year. It was the first time that these documents had been produced, so it was a great opportunity to see the development of guidelines that will have immediate applicability and tangible, on-ground benefits. In particular, I researched and synthesised information on the environmental assets of particular catchments. Working closely with other members of the branch, I developed text for the northern basin catchments for the new Environmental Water website. In addition, I was able to look at environmental water from a different angle by developing a briefing package on Indigenous interests in the area, liaising with stakeholders and gaining an understanding of this highly complex issue.

This rotation, I wanted to try something completely different and, having no experience in water management and very little in environmental assets, I found this a rewarding challenge. Environmental water, as a new concept and an area still developing its implementation policies and procedures, was a fascinating place to work.

Third Placement: NSW Section, Environment Assessment Branch, Environment Assessment and Compliance Division

The Environment Assessment Branch is responsible for managing the referral and assessment process under the department's key piece of legislation (the Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act)) to ensure ecologically sustainable development and the best possible environmental outcomes. The NSW Section works with actions taken in that state.

During my rotation in this section, I worked on a number of referrals, developing recommendations for the Minister's delegate on whether or not to approve the proposed action. These actions are highly diverse and have given me a great overview of the matters of national environmental significance in NSW, from threatened species and communities to World Heritage sites. I have also had the opportunity to delve into other section work, such as contentious dispersals of Grey-headed Flying-foxes, the NSW Biobanking scheme and I gained an understanding of the department's developing offsets policy.

Working in this section has required me to develop a good knowledge of the EPBC Act and nationally significant matters such as threatened species and communities. The work was different again from my other rotations but was challenging and satisfying with tangible, ecologically sustainable outcomes.

Final Placement - Policy Integration & Analysis Section, Sustainability Policy & Analysis Division

Following the graduate year, I was fortunate to secure a position with the NSW Section of the Environment Assessment Branch.

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