Hi my name’s JJ. For the past four months, I have been seconded to Main Roads Western Australia as the Environment Officer for the Kimberley Region. The Kimberley Region is vast; over 424,000 square kilometres and containing about 2,100 km of State managed roads.
Some of the works I regularly undertake in this role include:
- Advising on and obtaining environmental approvals under the Federal EPBC Act and the State’s EP Act;
- Advising on and obtaining Works Approvals and Operating Licences from the Department of Environment Regulation;
- Engaging and managing Aboriginal Heritage and Biological Surveys;
- Responding to queries on environmental matters from the public; and
- Helping to ensure that Kimberley Region meets its requirements under Main Roads Western Australia’s ISO14001:2015 certified Environmental Management System.
However, as a young professional, working in regional areas presents its own set of challenges:
- Learning to be proficient in a wide range of technical and domestic skills, as there aren’t very many others to teach or do them for you;
- Bridging the gap between old-timers and young folk in professional and social settings;
- Acclimatising to the rugged climate and landscape;
- Balancing the often polarised requirements (and opinions) of stakeholder groups while remaining true to the tenets of the organisation;
- The long, solo drives and remote roads (like the infamous and beautiful Gibb River Road);
- The abundance of beef on the roads (live and otherwise); and
- The general lack of chic small bars and hipster-esque brunch venues.
In today’s economy, secondments can be an effective model for industries and consulting firms to work together to fill gaps in regional areas. Consultants gain a steady work opportunity, while the industry gets a suitably experienced individual with the support of the collective experience of the consultant’s firm if needed.
The potential for a ‘win-win’ is high and as a young professional, the personal and professional experience gained is enough to justify getting out of your comfort zone. I would strongly urge more young professionals to grab opportunities like these, as you potentially stand to gain far more than you could lose.
I have learnt a lot in the past few months from working with Main Roads, and though I still have much to learn, I am really looking forward to the remainder of my tenure. The only downside I can think of is that drives with mates can become a touch awkward when I get excited about the stretch of road we are riding on. But that’s because I see the product of years of hard work by a myriad of people, both within and outside the organisation, all with the common aim of ensuring that we have a smooth and safe ride ahead.
If you’ve got a gap in environmental resourcing, give us a call on (08) 9388 8360.