CAFNEC can offer a unique internship experience at the front line of environmental advocacy in one of the world’s most spectacular regions. The Wet Tropics and Great Barrier Reef World Heritage areas, Cape York, Gulf of Carpentaria, Torres Strait and the Coral Sea are all areas that CAFNEC is involved in. There is always something interesting happening in a region this large, globally significant and diverse.
Internships are unpaid.
CAFNEC provides input into a myriad of government and community processes, approvals and policy reforms. Protected area management, water resource planning, development approvals, land use planning, urban planning, fisheries, wildlife and much more. Assistance in providing input and advocacy into these areas is always welcome and can provide an internship experience that makes a valuable contribution to the environment whilst being personally and professionally rewarding.
For interns from outside Australia, good written and spoken English skills are required for policy analysis and submission writing. Public engagement activities, event organisation and other areas of work experience do not require high level English language skills.
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The story of a former Intern
Reflective essay about my work experience at CAFNEC, 2011
(Written as part of the assessment of the placement.)
Mariasole Bianco (Masters in Protected Area Management, James Cook University, Cairns)
This essay will reflect on my recent work experience during the professional placement in the Cairns and Far North Environment Centre (CAFNEC).
First of all allow me to introduce myself: My name is Mariasole Bianco I am 25 years old and in March 2009 I graduated from the University of Genoa with a bachelor degree in marine biology.
In February 2010 I enrolled at James Cook University in Cairns and started my Master of Applied Science degree majoring in Protected Area Management and in March 2011 I have organised and coordinated my professional placement work experience in the Cairns and Far North Environment Centre (CAFNEC).
I chose CAFNEC because I believed it would be a very suitable place and one where I would be able to contribute as well as learn. CAFNEC’s mission is to ensure that the unique and special natural heritage of Far North Queensland is protected.
During this work experience I followed two main projects that CAFNEC was undertaking:
- The Protect our Coral Sea campaign concerning the establishment of the Coral Sea Conservation Zone as a single very large highly protected Marine Park.
- The review of the conservation status and management arrangements concerning Traditional hunting of marine turtles and dugong.
During the first week of my work experience I was given the task of reviewing a report about the physical and biological characteristics of the Coral Sea Conservation Zone written by Daniela Ceccarelli as commissioned by the Protect Our Coral Sea campaign.
As a result of this assignment I have learned to use the correction system of OpenOffice to edit and insert comments and notes in a document thanks to a very good supervisor, Steve Ryan, who helped me, explain to me anything that I did not understand and welcomed me as part of the team.
After the first week, I had to write an article about the scientific review concerning the physical and biological values of the Coral Sea Conservation Zone on which I have been working on the previous week and which will be published in the magazine of CAFNEC “ECOTONE”
As a result of this task I have learned to better target information according to the audience finding this quite challenging as I am more used to scientific language.
During my third week I was given a new project to follow about the sustainability of traditional hunting of marine turtles and dugong.
I found this topic very challenging because it is a delicate cultural, political and conservation issue.
The project involved interviewing different people from various organisations involved in this area with the aim of producing a discussion paper that was later on used by CAFNEC.
The first people interviewed were from Cape York Sustainable Futures who were conducting a monitoring program about sea turtle nesting in the Cape York Peninsula.
During this week I improved my time management skills and found that the Evernote software program was very useful and helped me to organise and keep updated on the information collected.
In week four I continued interviewing people about the sustainability of traditional hunting and by conducting these interviews I improved my communication skills and to meet people that work in the field.
During the fifth week I was very excited to be able to participate at a meeting with the Queensland Environment Minister Kate Jones about traditional hunting. This meeting was a fantastic opportunity for my future career because it gave me the chance to meet a lot of people from various organisation (such as GBRMPA, WWF, QPWS.) that were also attending the meeting.
In my sixth week at CAFNEC I realised that this will be my “crunch” week.
I held my final interview with Jann Crase author of Indigenous management of marine turtle and dugong to review and organise my discussion paper. I also had to synthesise all the information collected and organised them into short, medium and long term recommendations.
It was the first time that I had to write a discussion paper so I read some other published discussion papers and tried to follow the same outline. Meanwhile I prepared and made a presentation about the important role that the Coral Sea plays in protecting pelagic migratory species at the opening of the underwater photographic exhibition of the Coral Sea held in Cairns.
It was difficult to follow two projects at the same time but the audiences were very happy with my power point presentation and this acted as a boost to my self-confidence.
During the seventh week I felt highly motivated and I produced an article about the importance of the establishment of the Coral Sea as a large-scale no-take protected area. The focus of the article was the impact of recreational fishing on the Coral Sea Conservation Zone because the recreational fishing lobby is very influential and some of them are still against the establishment of the proposed no-take area.
After six weeks of work experience I started to find it easier to research a topic and produce an article about it. I also realised that I was becoming more careful about targeting my information according to the audience even if my articles were always scientifically based.
In my final week I organised a presentation about the biological physical and ecological values of the Coral Sea, the importance of pelagic marine protected areas for migratory species and the reason why the Coral Sea should be established as a large-scale no-take pelagic protected area. This project may be presented to the JCU academics in Townsville and Cairns in October this year.
After eight weeks I felt that I had met the challenges and had a high level of personal satisfaction.
When I think about my work experience I believe that it is important for my future career to be able to produce up to date articles and conduct interviews with different stakeholders. I feel that I accomplished the tasks that were given to me and I enjoyed consulting with other members of the CAFNEC team.
To summarise, during my eight weeks of working experience I held two power point presentations, wrote two articles and conducted six interviews. I had a meeting with Kate Jones the QLD Environment Minister and I produced a discussion paper concerning the sustainability of traditional hunting that was presented in May at a roundtable meeting with the Federal Environment Minister.
After the presentation held on the 20 th April about the important role that the Coral Sea plays in protecting pelagic migratory species at the opening of the underwater photographic exhibition of the Coral Sea held in Cairns I was approached by the editor of the CONNECT magazine to write a follow-up article about the presentation.
I feel I can confidently say that during my work experience at CAFNEC I learnt a lot!
During my work experience I have learned a lot of things but if I have to identify the most useful things that I learned I will say that targeting information according to audience has been the most valuable especially coming from a scientific background and also to produce a discussion paper in which I have to synthesise a lot of information that I had collected.
If I have to identify my main strength would say that it is the ability to communicate in an easy way and involve other people in the topic. I am also aware that the knowledge gained at the university about the topic that I was working on was appropriate and very beneficial. I am very pleased with the progresses made especially since it was not my mother tongue neither was it in the scientific style that I am accustomed to working in.
In conclusion I believe that my recent experience formed a valuable part of my overall James Cook University course of study. The eight weeks at CAFNEC have confirmed in my mind the belief that I have chosen the correct career path and look forward to working in this area after my graduation.
Thanks once again to all the CAFNEC staff members for your invaluable help!