Development Practice Student and Graduate Profiles

The Development Practice suite of postgraduate Programs is very fortunate to have a rich and vibrant student community with students from many different countries and cultures. Our Alumni share some of their experiences about studying Development Practice at UQ.

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25. Jillian Ash

With a keen interest in international development and social science, Jillian Ash was seeking a career in social planning and found UQ’s Master of Development Practice (Planning for Social Development) to be a perfect fit.

As I had a keen interest in international development and social science, and was seeking a career in social planning, I found UQ’s Master of Development Practice Program (Planning for Social Development) to be a perfect fit. I valued the variety of subject areas available, the mix of theoretical and practical courses, and the quality of the teaching staff. However, unquestionably, the best quality of the MDP program was the diversity of my peers. They came from all corners of the globe, sharing their life and professional experiences, and this has most certainly enriched my learning of development, cultures and social planning. Not only did I graduate with a degree, I was also awarded a suite of lifelong friendships.

Halfway through my studies, I was offered the role of Graduate Social Planner at Sinclair Knight Merz, a large multinational engineering and environmental consultancy. My role entails conducting demographic analysis and community profiles, and developing social impact assessments and social impact management plans for large infrastructure projects, predominantly for proposed mines in rural Queensland. I often work in the field to engage with a wide range of stakeholders, including locally affected communities, government agencies, industry representatives and the project workforce.

What I value most about my job is that I get to work with a wide variety of communities and across a number of social topics. No one community is the same, with each presenting a new set of challenges on how to ensure that infrastructure development minimise negative social impacts and enhances social benefits. Last year I provided social planning assistance for a project based in the Philippines. This enabled me to gain new skills in practicing social planning at the international level. I was based in Manila for five weeks, working closely with the client in developing a social impact management framework for a proposed mine. I worked with a number of social issues, including resettlement, health impacts, community investment, project induced in-migration, employment and business opportunities and human rights. I aspire to continue working in the social planning field, though hopefully focusing on the social impacts of development in the South Pacific region.