For many of the women in senior and leadership positions at DELWP, it has been a journey getting to this point in their career. 
After years working across various aspects of the environmental sector, Kate Gavens is now working in a newly created role within conservation and the environment.   
Kate is the Interim Conservation Regulator within the department’s Forest, Fire and Regions space. 

“International Women’s Day reminds me of the importance of pushing out the boundaries, to call out inherent bias and continue to look to build, support and empower women and men to break down stereotypes and do things differently with the intent of promoting equality, diversity, inclusion and innovation in the way we work.

Who is Kate Gavens?

I am a mountain biker, adventure racer and orienteer.  When I am not working, I like nothing better than getting out in our state forests and parks. 

Can you talk me through your journey to get to this point in your career?

The hardest part of my career was cracking into the environmental field. I got short term contracts with Parks Victoria in Anglesea, Lorne and Orbost before taking a three-year contract to audit dairy farm environmental compliance in Warrnambool.  Following on from that, I have delved into a range of policy areas including climate change, pollution and waste.  

The biggest challenge by far has been, and still is, juggling senior roles with pre-school kids. This has been possible with fantastic support from my partner - we both work four days- and from DELWP whose approach to supporting flexibility across the organisation has been incredibly progressive. 

My background is in environmental regulation, particularly in pollution and waste.  I spent a number of years at the Environment Protection Authority before starting at the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning five years ago. 

Why do you think International Women’s Day is important, and what does it mean to you personally?

On International Women’s Day I often reflect on how far we have come - a reduction of gender stereotyping in carer roles, more women on boards and senior roles, a reduction in the gender pay gap - but also how far we have to go on those and other issues.   

I have been lucky, I have never felt that my gender has impacted my career, but many women have been impacted and many still are.  International Women’s Day reminds me of the importance of pushing out the boundaries, to call out inherent bias and continue to look to build, support and empower women and men to break down stereotypes and do things differently with the intent of promoting equality, diversity, inclusion and innovation in the way we work. 

Do you have any advice for young women considering or currently pursuing a career in this industry?

The public sector provides fantastic opportunities for all young people to apply their talent and skill to a range of exciting projects.  Jobs in the public sector usually come with opportunities to try a range of different jobs across a range of topic areas with good access to training and development. My advice would be get into the sector, try your hand at a few different things, work out what you like to do and build a career! 

What have been some of the highlights in your career?

A highlight from last year was supporting the passage of a modernisation Environment Protection Act for Victoria through Parliament.   
The legislation is world leading with a new environmental duty to prevent pollution and waste. When the new law commences next year it will also introduce higher penalties for breaking the law and greater powers for authorised officers for enforcing the law - important for tacking key pollution and waste issues in Victoria.  
Not only was the outcome a highlight but I also got to work with a sensationally skilled, innovative and fun team who’s combined talent was the reason for the high quality work delivered. 

How would you explain your job to a stranger at a dinner party?

My current role as the Interim Chief Conservation Regulator is a new role established in the department to oversee regulatory functions in conservation and environment.   

I am establishing a centralised function to improve regulation of things like timber harvesting, land use, biodiversity protection and fire prevention. This includes overseeing functions such as setting priorities for regulatory activities, informing and educating people about the law, providing clear standards and guidance, monitoring compliance and enforcing the law.

Page last updated: 08/03/19