The case studies below feature two of our recent graduates who entered the Program when it was offered via the Housing Authority (which is now a part of the Department of Communities). The Graduate Program is now a Department of Communities-wide initiative.

Name: Thomas Chadwick
Degree: Master of Urban Planning
University: Curtin University
Year Joined: 2015

What were you doing before you joined?
Completing my Masters and working part-time in both IT and urban planning jobs.

Why did you apply for the graduate program?
I am motivated to do work that empowers other people and contributes to the community, so working for the Department to create affordable housing opportunities for those who would otherwise struggle to rent or own their own home seemed like a perfect fit.

Also, when I finished university I didn’t know exactly what type of work interested me, so I was attracted to the graduate program because it would enable me to gain experience in a wide range of work areas and explore my professional interests.

What projects did you work on during the graduate program?
So far I have worked in Asset Planning, where I researched how upcoming changes in local planning schemes will affect the Department’s properties; Housing Programs, where I reviewed internal program policies; Workforce Development, which saw me assisting with the development of a Capability Framework that will help guide the development of the Department's workforce into the future; and Aboriginal Housing, where I worked to improve the delivery of our Employment Related Accommodation program.

What was a key highlight of the program?
One of the most enjoyable things about the program has been meeting people from across the whole organisation. I have built relationships with people with a wide range of skills and personalities, and I often pick up the phone to ask for advice or assistance from someone I met on a previous rotation. This not only makes work a fun and exciting but it also helps me learn and develop both personally and professionally.

What are you doing now?
I am currently working in the Department's Complex Projects team in its Housing division, assisting with the development of some of the Departmen'ts large-scale projects. This includes Connected Living, a project that will deliver seven innovative, medium to high rise, transit-oriented, mixed-use developments across Perth in partnership with the private sector. I am also working on Connect Joondalup, a master-planned mixed-use development on a ~10 hectare lot near the Joondalup town centre. These are multi-faceted projects that involve me learning and performing various work tasks.

Name: Zara Wakely
Degree: Bachelor Regional and Urban Planning, Environment Minor
University: University of the Sunshine Coast, Queensland
Year Joined: 2014

What were you doing before you joined?
Prior to joining Housing’s Graduate Program I lived in Queensland and was working as a town planner. I was fortunate enough to gain exposure to both the private sector and local government during this time.

Why did you apply for the Department of Housing graduate program?
I have always gravitated towards policy and housing affordability challenges. A key focus of my university studies was examining the relationship between town planning and housing affordability.

In 2013, I received the Queensland Minister’s town planning prize for my major research project titled Smart growth and housing affordability: a comparative case study of Auckland, New Zealand and Brisbane, Australia. This was a turning point for me, I decided to focus on housing policy and look for new career opportunities.

Applying for Housing’s Graduate Program was a big leap of faith for me. I stepped away from town planning, left our family home and made the 6,000km journey with my young family in the search of a new career with the Housing Authority.

What projects did you work on during the graduate program?

I undertook placements in:

  • Market innovation and partnerships
  • Housing programs, policy and practice
  • Land and housing construction metropolitan
  • Town planning and urban design
  • Intergovernmental outcomes.

Throughout my placements, I contributed to the land and housing development framework, the State Government strata title reforms, and the Kimberley employment and enterprise program.

I also worked on other projects outside of placements as part of my professional development. Some of these included contributing to the Department’s Innovation Program staff carpooling initiative, and leading the State library digi-time interactive narrative program concept paper.

What was a key highlight of the program?
Professional development was a key highlight of the graduate program, particularly the mentor program and leadership courses. I can’t emphasise enough how fortunate graduates are to be exposed to this amount of professional development – it’s unrivalled compared to my experience in the private sector and local government.

What are you doing now?
I have secured a permanent role in Strategy and Policy. I have worked on a range of strategic initiatives including the Seniors Housing Strategy, the Transitional Housing strategic framework and the National Rental Affordability Scheme among other things.

I have also relished the opportunity to step outside my comfort zone and act in the communications team. I look forward to continuing to learn and contribute to Department outcomes especially now that we are the Department of Communities.