UWA student Elly Bijlsma has been named the recipient of the McCusker Centre for Citizenship Outstanding Intern Award – Government category.
Elly was presented with the award for her exceptional contributions to the Government sector during her McCusker Centre for Citizenship internship, which saw her undertake a research role at the WA Department of Premier and Cabinet (DPC) early in the year.
During her internship, Elly conducted and presented research on WA’s COVID-19 recovery initiatives and policy directions to help support cohorts of people that have been most disproportionately affected by the pandemic within WA – people living in regional WA, young people, women and remote Aboriginal communities.
For Elly, who is studying a Master of Infectious Diseases, the internship experience showed her that there are a number of ways she can use her skills and expertise to contribute to the community.
“Active citizenship means making a positive contribution to the community, this contribution can manifest itself in an array of different ways, more than I had previously considered,” said Elly.
The McCusker Centre for Citizenship established the Outstanding Intern of the Year Award in 2019. It is a bi-annual award open to all student interns who are nominated by their organisation for making an exceptional contribution during their internship.
Internship supervisor and DPC Senior Policy Officer, Danielle Asarpota commended Elly’s dedication, skill and professionalism, noting that Elly made a “significant contribution” to the project, which led to her nomination for the Outstanding Intern Award.
“She exceeded our expectations with the speed at which she developed her understanding of how state government works, DPC’s role, the aims of the WA Recovery Plan, and the national context of recovery,” said Danielle.
“[Elly] demonstrated a high level of commitment and professional responsibility in taking ownership of her research, confidently presenting it to the team, and ensuring its accuracy. Her work serves the WA community,” she said.
Since completing her internship, Elly has moved to the Pilbara and has been working for headspace, supporting the delivery of mental health initiatives in regional communities.
“This internship opened my eyes to the possibilities and opportunities there are out there to make a contribution to the community that you live in,” said Elly.
Elly strongly agreed there was value in completing her internship and encourages other UWA students to undertake a McCusker Centre for Citizenship internship.
“Everyone has the ability to make a positive contribution to society. There is a vast variety of work out there, and there will be something to suit everybody,” she says.