Policy Officer — Mia Davison

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Geography has been part of my working life for years now. I received the Geography award in Year 12 at school and, while I was interested in graphics, I chose to study Geography in an Arts degree.

I combined it with Psychology and other humanities subjects, always moving towards the human side of Geography and away from the physical (geomorphology, soils). During the course, I loved the field trips and practical work—the way that the theory could be turned into a specific, real problem or issue close to the lives of people around me. These were things such as retailing trends, transport, industrial land use or housing needs. Psychology was interesting too. Both subjects were useful in that they were broad and general in nature, and taught me good learning techniques.

I undertook an Honours degree in Geography. My thesis topic was 'What are the Housing Aspirations of Empty-Nester Households?' (meaning, where do parents aspire to live once their children have left home?). It was during the mid 1990s, a time when there was an emerging trend to inner city living.

It was a solid year of work, and I found the isolation of research study challenging. My work experiences since have shown that a more collaborative working style is more enjoyable for me.

I had many casual jobs during university, but my first 'real' job was with the Victorian Department of Infrastructure. I worked for six weeks, immediately after my Honours thesis was finished, with the Research Unit assisting with the launch of 'Victoria in the Future' (this project was about population projections). While I was working with the Research Unit, I secured a further six months with the Policy Review Unit. The tasks were closely aligned with my Geography studies. I worked on retailing and industrial planning policy. During this time, I began a Graduate Diploma in Urban Policy and Planning, which I did part-time over two years.

In the following year, I juggled more part-time work at the Department of Infrastructure with two other casual jobs and the Diploma. These jobs gave me great insights into the complex questions to do with council planning issues.

I am currently working as a Policy Officer at the Department of Infrastructure. My primary focus is establishing a statewide monitoring and review program for council planning schemes. I am enjoying the challenging nature of the work, the human interaction it creates and the broad view needed to absorb all the relevant issues.

I'm not sure if I've taken enough 'time out' between school, study and work, but I have enjoyed the learning so far. To someone interested in Geography, I'd say, 'Take a risk, it will broaden your horizons'.