OHA Australia Wide – Melissa Liberatore (OH 2012)

OHA Australia Wide – Celebrating OHA Members outside Melbourne

Melissa Liberatore

Haileybury has always encouraged its students to look beyond Australia to the opportunities the wider world can offer.  Melissa Liberatore (OH 2012) has certainly done this.  She has studied international relations, participated in numerous overseas studies tours and worked at several globally-focussed organisations.

Melissa joined Haileybury in 2007 as a Year 7 student.  She has fond memories of many teachers, but gives particular mention to Scott Sweeney and Pierce Bourke for their enthusiasm and humour and Madame Fugier-Sola and Yannai Sensei for their inspired teaching of French and Japanese.  Languages appealed to Melissa, “I started French in Year 7 and absolutely loved it.  I only studied Japanese in Years 9 and 10, but my Japanese teachers made it fun and engaging to learn a language that was completely different to French and English.  I completed the International Baccalaureate (IB) for my Year 11 and 12 studies and had to pick one language, so did French, as my French language level was more suited to the demands of the IB course” she said.

After graduating from Haileybury, Melissa studied a Bachelor of Arts at Monash University as part of the scholars’ program; where she majored in French studies, Japanese studies and linguistics.  She then completed a Masters of International Relations (Diplomacy and Trade) and Masters of Journalism, at Monash University.  Melissa had two motivations for studying this double masters; “First, I was interested in foreign policy as a potential career path, so I knew having a Masters of International Relations was important.  Second, having studied French and Japanese in my undergraduate degree, I loved learning about different cultures.  This led to an interest in how diplomacy in multilateral organisations could address global challenges and contribute to global development.  In terms of journalism, the allure of being a foreign correspondent has always interested me.”

While studying, Melissa was a youth ambassador for the City of Monash and the chair of the Monash Young Persons Reference Group.  The Reference Group provided advice to the City of Monash on youth issues and arranged events for young people to engage with one another and their community.  For this work, the City of Monash nominated Melissa for a women’s leadership award.

Melissa also undertook several internships during her studies, including at the ABC, the Sri Lankan Consulate General, the Australian Institute of International Affairs, Monash University Gender, Peace and Security Centre and the Australian Strategic Policy Institute.  To cap off an already full university career, she participated in overseas study tours to India, Sri Lanka, Japan and Myanmar.

Looking at Melissa’s achievements during her time at Monash University, it’s clear she took every opportunity to expand her horizons.

After finishing her studies in 2018, Melissa moved to Canberra. “I completed a 6-month internship in Canberra at a think tank called the Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI)”, says Melissa. “I researched a range of security issues including cyber security, outer space security, first responders in crisis, and women in peace and security.  I really enjoyed the opportunity to think strategically, analyse critical security issues, attend roundtables with key strategic thinkers from Australia and around the world, get blogs published on ASPI’s online publication, The Strategist, and see firsthand how discourse shapes national and international security issues.  My internship at ASPI was coincidentally my “taste test” of Canberra.  During my internship I applied for various graduate programs with government departments.  I was selected for the graduate program at the Department of Communications and the Arts in 2019.”

Melissa is now a policy officer at the Department of Communications and the Arts. “I work in the International Postal Engagement team, which represents Australia at the Universal Postal Union (UPU). The UPU sets standards and regulations for the global postal network.  Essentially, it deals with e-commerce and the sending of parcels. This area is absolutely fascinating since the post is a microcosm of trade.  As more people shop online, we are seeing a significant increase in parcel volumes, which has flow-on effects for the operation of post offices and delivery companies, the need to keep up with consumer demand for things like parcel lockers, the security of sending parcels across borders and much more. The work my team does is really important to ensure the international postal network adapts to modern requirements to allow countries to benefit from e-commerce.”

Melissa has always had an international perspective, so we couldn’t resist asking her what she thinks are the big global issues of today and whether there is an international leader she admires.  “I think the biggest policy issue facing the world is around sustainable development,” says Melissa. “Our demand-driven lifestyle means that society produces and consumes in incomprehensible quantities. This, in conjunction with forecasts for population growth, gives rise to serious concern. This is a clear example of an intersectional policy issue between areas such as education, environment and science, and trade and investment policy.”  As for leaders, Melissa says Jacinda Ardern is definitely someone she admires.  “Based purely on my observations and without knowing the details of her policies, she is always pragmatic yet empathetic when faced with a crisis.  She strikes me as a leader who is not afraid to tackle difficult issues and is very articulate.  Also, as a female leader, she doesn’t shy away from expressing the realities of family life and work balance.”

Although Melissa only finished at Haileybury 8 years ago, she has accumulated an impressive array of experiences and learning from which current Haileybury students could definitely benefit.  She encourages current students to take on as many new opportunities as they can. “Every opportunity you take builds up your portfolio of skills and expertise.  It’s so important to have a broad range of skills when you first enter the graduate job market.  Everything you do is another piece of the puzzle that will fit together in the end and contribute to your success.”

In short …

Key news stories for 2020: I think the key news stories for this year are the conflict in the Middle East and President Trump’s impeachment.

Looking forward to in 2020: As every year, Eurovision! I am a huge Eurovision fan and it is my favourite time of year so I always look forward to it.

Person you’d love to meet: Mozart. I love classical music and play the clarinet and piano, so it would be fascinating to ask Mozart questions about composition, inspiration and music in general.

Book you’d recommend: ‘Not Just Lucky’ by Jamila Rizvi.  Jamila is a political commentator and writer.  The book is about structural and cultural issues that face women in work and their careers. As a young woman at the beginning of my career, it’s a very interesting, funny and realistic account of challenges I and many other women may encounter throughout our professional lives.

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