Melissa - 2012 Graduate Program

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  • South Australia


  • University of South Australia


  • Bachelor of Commerce
  • Graduate Certificate in Environmental Management and Sustainability


After completing my studies, travelling, volunteering overseas and working in a few different jobs, I was happy to be accepted into the Department’s graduate program. I had always wanted to work in the public service as it is a great way to develop skills and gain a good understanding of Australia’s policies and regulations. DSEWPaC appealed to me as I was keen to expand my knowledge and experience in the environment and sustainability area.


First Placement—Environmental Information Policy Section, Sustainability, Policy and Analysis Division

The Environmental Information Policy Section has responsibility for the department’s engagement in whole-of-government and inter-jurisdictional environmental information policy issues, particularly the joint development and implementation of the National Plan for Environmental Information (NPEI).

This rotation introduced me to policy development, as well as many of the department’s administrative procedures. I assisted in providing secretariat support for an Independent Review of Australian Government Environmental Information Activity which included developing briefs, procurement, contract management and research and analysis. I was also able to liaise with the Bureau of Meteorology as the partner agency for the (NPEI).

Second Placement—Victoria and Tasmania Section, Environment Assessment and Compliance Division

I chose this rotation as I really wanted to get an understanding of the assessment process under the EPBC Act and improve my knowledge in different matters of national environmental significance. The Environment Assessment Branches are responsible for assessing development proposals under Chapter 4 of the EPBC Act to protect matters of national environmental significance such as nationally threatened species and ecological communities, wetlands of international importance, world and natural heritage areas.

During my time in the section, I was able to develop decision briefs on different projects that were referred to the department. This included research on matters such as threatened species, looking at past decisions and forming arguments. I liaised with proponents about projects and was involved in negotiations around offset suitability. I was able to take ownership of my projects and learnt about the procedures that must be carried out under the EPBC Act.

Third Placement—NRM Planning Section, Australian Land and Coasts Division

As I had already gained some experience in policy and regulation, for my last rotation I wanted to work in an area that concentrated on program and grants work. The NRM Planning section is responsible for the development and implementation of the Regional NRM Planning for Climate Change Fund. The funding will support the revision of existing regional NRM plans to help identify where in the landscape climate change adaptation and mitigation activities should be undertaken.

During my time in the section I contributed to the implementation of the Regional NRM Planning for Climate Change Fund including finalisation of stakeholder communication tools such as a Fact Sheet, NRM Bulletin, Application Form and investigated procedures aground grant administration. I also responded to enquires from stakeholders and coordination requests.

Final Placement—Victoria and Tasmania Section, Environment Assessments and Compliance Division

For my final placement, I returned to the Victoria and Tasmania Section where I was placed in second rotation. I really enjoyed the team and the work of the section and knew there would be a lot more to learn. I am currently working on a number of projects, each in a different stage of the assessment process.