Matt - 2011 Graduate Program


  • The University of Sydney


  • Bachelor of Commerce / Bachelor of Science
  • Majors in Accounting, Management, Environmental Studies, Geology and Geophysics


I grew up on a small property in the Mid North Coast of NSW. I come from a sporting family and trained for national level swimming throughout my primary and high school years. As a result of this busy, coastal upbringing, I developed a keen interest in environmental sciences and a drive to pursue a career in this field.

I continued my passion for environmental studies at the University of Sydney undertaking a double degree in Commerce and Science. During my final year of study I applied to the Department (then DEWHA) graduate program for 2012. I joined the Department with the goal of taking part in projects of national environmental significance and contributing to the direction of environmental policies, in the context of a changing climate and future uncertainties.

The graduate program has provided me fantastic exposure to a variety of the work undertaken by the Department and has further developed my skills in a range of areas, as described below.


First Placement: National Environmental Reporting Section, Information Management Division

My first placement in the Department was with the National Environmental Reporting Section, which provided secretariat support to the State of the Environment Report committee. This rotation exposed me to a broad range of issues dealt with by the department and the complexities involved in coordination of projects across a range of issues with different outcomes and measures of success. The State of the Environment Report 2011 aimed at evaluating the department's success in environmental management against a range of criteria. As such participating in the development of this report allowed an insight into the Department's operations and how policy translated to projects 'on the ground'. I undertook a variety of evaluation activities and corporate services roles as part of this rotation and was fortunate to gain an insight into these procedures, which assisted me during later rotations.

Second Placement: Mining 2 Section, Approvals and Wildlife Division

As part of the Mining 2 Section of AWD, I participated in several assessments of mining proposals that had been referred to the Department under the EPBC Act. My primary role in this rotation was part of the evaluation team assessing the proposed expansion of BHP Billiton's Olympic Dam mine site in South Australia. As an assessment officer in this team I undertook assessments of several aspects of the proposal and contributed to a rigorous and comprehensive evaluation of the referral. This rotation was extremely rewarding and provided fantastic opportunity for collaborative evaluation, strategic thinking and utilisation of analytical skills. This rotation provided me tangible contact with real issues and provided a strong link to how the department directly impacts on-ground environmental management.

Third Placement: Queensland, Tasmania and Western Australia Section, Water Efficiency Division.

My final rotation is within the Queensland, Tasmania and Western Australia Section of the Irrigation Efficiency North Branch. My role in this section was to undertake activities as a project officer on the Queensland State Priority Project, the Healthy Headwaters Water Use Efficiency Project. As part of this rotation I had to undertake evaluations of proposals for joint Commonwealth and proponent funded irrigation efficiency improvements in the Queensland Murray Darling Basin. This rotation provided a fantastic insight into the complexities involved with water issues in Australia, specifically the Northern Murray Darling Basin. This rotation enabled the development of my project management skills, by exposing me to the full range of activities required to undertake projects from the assessment stage through to delivery of environmental outcomes.

Following the completion of my third placement, I have remained in this section in an ongoing capacity.

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