Skip to content

Melanie Trent

from dream of being a Volcanologist to Environmental Policy Officer - Maritime Emergency Management
I help ensure pollution from ships and boats is minimised.
Agriculture and Fisheries, Transport, Logistics and Warehousing
Department of Transport and Main Roads, Queensland Government
Job Level
Book a call

Ask me about

  • How my love of nature and wildlife turned into a job
  • Training to contain oil spills
  • Volunteering with the QLD State Emergency Service
  • Working and travelling overseas and around Australia

About me

  • International Experience
  • Regional Background

I have always loved nature and wildlife and studied environmental management with the thought of becoming a park ranger. During uni I volunteered with national parks, but my graduate position was as an Environmental Officer in compliance (pollution and land clearing) with local government. 

I found I really enjoyed interpreting legislation and compliance and took a leap moving to Cairns for a role in environmental licencing and compliance. I volunteered with the State Emergency Service for several years and developed an interest in emergency management. 

In 2009, I attended the Moreton Island oil spill response, and then undertook some oil spill training. Learning how marine pollution is dealt with on a national and international scale, I thought ‘wow, what a cool job.’

Ten years later, I am now in my dream job as an Environmental Policy Officer for the Department of Transport and Main Roads (TMR) in Queensland, working with a mix of legislation and marine pollution response.

About my role

  • Passionate
  • Perfectionist
  • Personable
  • Principled
  • Sociable

The role of an Environmental Policy Officer has two key focuses - providing technical advice and interpretation of marine pollution policy and legislation, and working in the prevention, preparedness and response to marine pollution incidents. A good working relationship with other Queensland, Australian and inter-state government agencies is important for the role.

The Transport Operations Marine Pollution Act 1995 regulates ship-sourced pollution in Queensland, with rules covering pollutants such as oil, chemical, sewage and waste which may be on board a ship or boat. Many of these rules come from international laws, and some apply from a small tinny all the way up to an international cruise ship or bulk carrier.

Maritime Safety Queensland (MSQ) is the response agency for maritime environmental emergencies under the Queensland Coastal Contingency Action Plan, and a response partner under the National Plan for Maritime Environmental Emergencies. Whilst thankfully major ship groundings and oil spills are uncommon, training and practicing is very important to be ready to respond.

Students Book Here Educators Book Here


  • Bachelor of Environmental Management, Griffith University (majoring in Ecology and Conservation Biology)
  • Cert IV in Government (Statutory Compliance)
  • Statement of Attainment – Marine Pollution Response – Planning Officer


  • Biology
  • Chemistry
  • Geography
  • Mathematical Methods (Maths B)
  • Physics


  • Year 12 Dalby SHS 'School Spirit Prize'
  • National Emergency Medal (Queensland Floods 2010-11 and Cyclone Yasi)


  • Beach adventures
  • Hiking
  • Photography
  • Seeing family and friends
  • Travel

15 year old me!!

“Taking a leap out of your comfort zone, even though it can be scary, may take you places you could never imagine.”

My career journey

Curious to know how I got here? Here’s a snapshot of my career pathway.
  1. Graduate job in regulation and compliance
  2. Volunteered with State Emergency Service
  3. Moved to Cairns for new job
  4. Lived in Canada for 8 months
  5. Landed Dream Job - Marine Pollution Response

My employer

The Department of Transport and Main Roads moves and connects people, places, goods and services safely, efficiently and effectively across Queensland. We plan, manage and deliver Queensland's integrated transport environment to achieve sustainable transport solutions for road, rail, air and sea. Our vision is to create a single integrated transport network accessible to everyone. As part of the Queensland Government, we are committed to building a diverse workforce that represents the community we serve.