Day in the life profile—Baxter Norman

Baxter Norman

Graduate Policy Officer, Infrastructure Framework and Delivery, National Water Grid Authority


My alarm wakes up and I begin to get ready for work. I get changed, make some breakfast and pack my bag. Fortunately, nothing is too far away in Canberra and traffic is rarely heavy. I can choose to either drive to the office, which takes about ten minutes, or take a bus which usually takes around fifteen minutes. I then walk from the bus stop over to the office which is another five minutes.


I arrive into the office, unpack my belongings and greet the rest of my team. I check any emails I received late yesterday. I then head down to the café and pick up a coffee to keep me going for the rest of the morning.


When I am back in the office, I catch up with my supervisor about any ongoing tasks that need to be completed today. I usually check through the recent news regarding any water projects that fall within my work area. I get these updates on Streem, the department’s media monitoring service. This is important because any recent developments in the status of water projects can impact our team’s work. While I try to plan my work priorities at the start of the day, I am aware that these can change significantly depending on the demands of the team.


I get started on my most important task today which is to help to draft a new policy proposal for the Water Grid Fund. The National Water Grid Authority provides advice to the Australian Government on water infrastructure projects and policy. These projects are designed to improve the resilience of Australia’s water storage and support the growth of regional economies. In my Branch, I work with the team to identify water infrastructure initiatives that can be progressed to construction phase. I spend the morning working with the team to assess a new water investment project which is being considered for funding. This requires research on the project’s financial cost, environmental and cultural impacts, and the potential benefits of the project for improving water supply. Understanding and balancing these factors is critical to determining which infrastructure option will have the highest net benefit for regional communities.


I have my weekly catch up with the Infrastructure Framework and Delivery team about the key priorities for the Branch this week. This is a great opportunity to learn about any updates on the projects that the broader team is working on.


Now that the team meeting has finished I go downstairs to pick up some lunch from nearby. I head back up to the office and eat with some of the other grads. I love eating lunch by the kitchen in the Nishi building because it has a fantastic view of Lake Burley Griffin. This is also a nice time to catch up with the cohort.


After lunch, I head back to my desk and get back to work on the proposal. Once it is completed, I send it over to my supervisor to quality check my work. It is great to have the support of an experienced supervisor when undertaking tasks as a graduate because they can help you to address any issues in your work before it reaches a higher level.


I join a meeting with the National Water Grid Authority and the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment where I am taking minutes for the team. The meeting is to discuss the sensitives surrounding the new water infrastructure proposal that we are working on. One aspect about working in the public service that I really enjoy is the opportunity to work collaboratively with other Departments as well as State and Territory counterparts.


Once the meeting is done, I finish writing up the minutes and share them with my supervisor for clearance. Our team has just received some questions on notice from the most recent Senate Estimates. Questions on notice are used by members on Senate committees to request further information about particular issues related to our portfolio. I work with my supervisor to draft some responses for clearance from my Director.


As I reach the end of my working day, I make some time to work on tasks related my responsibilities within the Department’s Social Club. The graduates of the Department are responsible for the management of the Social Club. We help to run happy hours, trivia nights, fundraisers and the Christmas Party. I am a part of the Christmas Party team that liaises with venues, food vendors and AV equipment suppliers to prepare for the highly-anticipated event at the end of the year.


At the end of the day, I pack up my desk, say goodbye to the team and head home. Once I am home, I get ready for social sports which I play in a league with friends from the Graduate cohort. Social sport is a great way to unwind after a busy day at work.