Sir Walter Murdoch School of Public Policy & International Affairs

About our graduates

Ellen SmithEllen Smith, Regional Fisheries Management Officer, Department of Fisheries WA

Studied: Masters of Public Policy and Management

Ellen came to the Sir Walter Murdoch School of Public Policy and International Affairs from Recfishwest where she worked as a Regional Policy Officer. Recfishwest is a non-profit organisation which represents the interests of recreational fishers in Western Australia and Ellen’s role largely involved consultation and liaison with local fishers.

Career advancement was the prime motivation in commencing her studies at Murdoch University.

“I believed there was disparity between the science and policy development that was occurring within the natural resource management industry. Having already had a background in science, I believed gaining a solid management and policy background would enable me to be an important link between science, policy and management. I also felt I needed to further develop my managerial skills and better understand the operations of the government systems in order to advance my career”

The Sir Walter Murdoch program allows students to tailor their degree to provide the specific skills needed to move forward in the areas they want to go.

“I have developed greater technical writing ability which I am now able to apply to higher-level communications, such as ministerial briefs. I developed an understanding of the policy cycle and how to write policy briefs, in addition to knowledge of policy windows and agenda setting. I gained inside knowledge into the workings of WA Parliament, through the Parliamentary Studies unit, which had excellent guest speakers and saw the class having afternoon tea in Parliament House with the members of the Legislative Assembly. Having never studied economics before, I found the Public Sector Economics unit very helpful and insightful. It gave a great broad perspective on the importance of economic considerations when designing public policy.”

“My elective unit of Leading and Managing Non-profit Organisations gave great insight into the leadership and managerial skills required to head a non-profit organisation. These skills are also transferrable to the government and private sectors”, Ellen added. “It was the Parliamentary Studies unit I enjoyed the most, as I believe the best learning and insight can be gained from first-hand experience. The guest speakers in this unit were particularly engaging.”

“The lecturers and staff associated with the Sir Walter Murdoch School are all incredible. They are always very approachable and happy to lend a hand when it is needed. I am especially pleased with the feedback and advice they are able to give during casual discussions, including advice of career prospects and further studies.”

“I have greatly appreciated being recognised for my achievements in my studies, being rewarded with a scholarship to attend the Institute of Public Administration Australia’s (IPAA) international conference, held in Perth. This conference was not only informative, but a fantastic networking opportunity to create some excellent networks within the public sector, and now sees me sitting on the Young Professionals Advisory Committee to the IPAA.”

Following her studies Ellen was offered a new job with the Department of Fisheries as the Regional Fisheries Management Officer, based in Albany.

This role involves liaison with research, compliance and other policy staff to ensure the commercial and recreational fisheries of the Southern Bioregion are managed sustainably. My postgraduate qualification prepared me for the interview process; which required me to write a ministerial brief under tight time constraints. It also prepared me for the appropriate language to use when speaking to public servants, and aided my understanding of the expectations and requirements to work in the public sector. I have also been able to apply the knowledge that I have gained on a daily basis; from writing emails, to thoroughly researching and investigating issues, to drafting policies and guidelines, to speaking with Ministers and senior departmental staff. The skills I have gained through my postgrad study at the Sir Walter Murdoch School have proved invaluable.”