Matt - 2012 Graduate Program

Home state

  • Western Australia


  • Murdoch University
  • University of Sydney


  • Bachelor of Science (Marine Science and Conservation Biology)
  • Masters of Environmental Law


Following my undergraduate studies in Perth, I worked in state government environment departments in Perth, Broome and Sydney. I then decided to pursue a Masters in Environmental Law before embarking on an internship with the United Nations Development Programme in New York City. Following this I decided to further my skills in operations-based work by returning to the Broome to work for the WA state environment department’s Kimberley district.

I decided to apply for the 2012 SEWPaC Graduate Program for the ability to firstly gain experience across different areas of the marine and international work I was interested in, and secondly as a way of gaining the core training needed to work and progress in the APS.


First Placement—Legislation Policy Section, Policy and Communications Division

The Legislation Policy Section provided policy advice to the Department on matters involving interpretation of the EPBC Act. This placement allowed me to gain a thorough understanding of the breadth of the primary legislation under which the department operates and the issues involved in its interpretation and enforcement. This was an excellent opportunity to improve my skills in legislative interpretation and writing policy advice.

Second Placement—Marine Policy Development Section, Marine Division

The Marine Policy Development Section deals with a range of regional and international marine policy issues. Its main areas of work include administering Australia’s secretariat duties for the Coral Triangle Initiative and the Arafura and Timor Seas Ecosystem Action Program, and contributing to the Australian Government’s engagement with a number of United Nations marine-related functions including the UN General Assembly, Convention on Biological Diversity and UN Oceans & Law of the Sea.

This placement was an excellent opportunity to combine my studies in marine science and international law, whilst allowing me to undertake important functions in international engagement such as drafting high-level briefing, reviewing unclassified cables and organising meetings with international dignitaries.

Third Placement—World Indigenous Network Secretariat, Land and Coasts Division

For my third and final placement I chose to work in the World Indigenous Network Secretariat. The World Indigenous Network is an initiative announced at the Rio+20 Conference on Sustainable Development and will be launched at an inaugural World Indigenous Network Conference in Darwin in May 2013. The network aims to connect Indigenous peoples and local communities around the world to share skills and knowledge in managing their land and sea environments.

The main functions of the Secretariat include facilitating the project’s national advisory group (comprising of leading Indigenous Australian representatives), engaging with overseas governments and their bureaucracies, coordinating international stakeholder correspondence and organising the conference.

My role in the Secretariat is to assist in international engagement, assist in coordinating the international exchange component, and provide lead secretariat duties for the national advisory group. While working for the Secretariat I have been fortunate enough to coordinate an exchange between Mexican and Kimberley region Indigenous groups, write international cable correspondence, draft Ministerial correspondence and work directly with high-level domestic and international Indigenous community representatives, as well as NGO, DFAT, AusAID and UN staff.

And beyond...

I intend to continue my career in the APS, building on the experience and skills I’ve gained in the 2012 graduate year. I look forward to continuing work in the international field and am keen to explore the many possibilities that the department has to offer.