Talisha’s volunteer work inspired her to study a Master of Public Policy so she could gain the skills to help address the structural problems and systems that can disadvantage people in need.
This degree has given me plenty of opportunity for self-reflection, which has in turn given me greater capacity for knowledge retention, research, analysis and patience, all valuable skills I hope to take into my career.
I volunteer in a Federal MP’s office, and I started noticing clear structural problems within the Public Housing sector in particular (even though housing is within the states’ jurisdiction), and many other policy areas that were not doing what they were designed to do or supporting the people they were designed to support. I wanted to figure out why these problems weren’t being fixed, and how we could have systems in place that were clearly failing some of Australia’s most vulnerable people.
RMIT seemed quite inclusive, and the Master of Public Policy seemed to build upon a real social policy or sociology foundation. This was really important to me because I think understanding the systemic causes underlying an issue is imperative to effective policy – rather than taking the easy option of a quick band-aid fix which is easily digestible and can be made into a three-word slogan.
I think I was in my very first semester of the course when I heard a lecturer say something that profoundly changed the way I think as an adult: that when we talk about disadvantage, we rarely talk about the other end of the spectrum that is privilege. It was one of those rare moments that fundamentally changed the way I engage with concepts, my own thinking, and with others.
I’m in my second year, and I’ve already worked on policy briefs and a submission to a government inquiry – learning new skills can be hard, but it came with a great sense of accomplishment doing so much research and presenting information so succinctly. My advice to people considering postgraduate study is to be open to learning new things and taking paths that you wouldn’t normally go down – you never know exactly what you might learn, so be open to developing skills that you may not have valued previously.