2020-21 Australian Science Policy Fellow: Verity

Headshot of Verity Normington

Verity, Attorney-General’s Department

What were you researching before you started as a Science Policy Fellow?

My research was characterising and mapping the sedimentary rocks of the Central Australian Amadeus Basin such as the rocks of Watarrka (Kings Canyon) and Tjoritja (MacDonnell Ranges). These rocks are the preserved geological history of the inland sea that covered most of Australia from 1 billion to 400 million years ago. The research I was involved in is used by a number of stakeholders for a variety of reasons including petroleum and mineral exploration, sourcing underground water and the planning of infrastructure.

What policy area are you working on through the Science Policy Fellowship Program?

I am based in the Native Title Unit at the Attorney-General’s Department. I work with my team to implement policies and programs related to Native Title. The team also coordinates responses to, or requests for, information about programs and policies that AGD have responsibility for where Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are included or affected.

How has your research background helped you contribute to policy development?

Having the skills to think outside the box and also have a fresh perspective on policy and the way polices are implemented has meant that I have been able to contribute to the strategic thinking that is required in policy development. The critical thinking, communication and big picture thinking skills that I developed in research have been extremely useful in my current role. The project management skills that I learnt during my PhD and research work have been invaluable when it comes to working with new policies that are being implemented.

How has the Program changed your career aspirations?

I have always had aspirations to work in government roles as I believe it is a way to contribute to society. Moving from a state government to the Australian Government has been big change. It has solidified my desire to work in government and I can see how working in a policy area can have a direct influence or change people’s lives.

What is your favourite part about working in a policy role in the Australian Public Service?

The fast paced nature of working in policy and the varied tasks mean that every day is different and I have the opportunity to learn about an assortment of different policy areas and how they relate to Native Title and Indigenous people. I have really enjoyed that aspect of my new role. It has been great to see how amending legislation is done behind the scenes, and all the work that goes into the end point of it being tabled and debated in parliament.