The Collins Street office of the Institute of Public Affairs is abuzz. The research team after returning from their well-earned summer break, has sprung back into action. That is where I have found myself, for the past four weeks.
Melbourne is an eclectic city. Its cosmopolitan culture combined with an impressive array of hospitality and retail ventures provide an assortment of activities for even the most picky of individuals. Straight away, it was apparent to me that I was in a big city. Originating from a farming community of no more than 1000, I considered Perth to be a big city. But I am wrong. Melbourne is a big city. However, there is some indescribable character to Melbourne that prevents me from feeling out of my depth. Despite its hustle and bustle, this is not an uninviting city.
My first day in Melbourne was spent seeking a myki, essentially the equivalent to a Transperth smart rider. These should be available at news agents, convenience stores and the like. However, upon our arrival at southern cross station, the local 7-11 was out of stock. This forced my roommate Charles and myself to lug around our bulky luggage through the heart of Melbourne CBD on a Saturday. This being both our first times in Melbourne, we must have been a sight to behold. Eventually, we happened upon a 7-11 that had myki’s in stock, and we purchased them with much relief. This afforded us the opportunity to familiarise ourselves with one of the pinnacles of Melbourne’s public transport, Flinders Street Station, as well as the route to and from the city which would become our daily commute.
After finally getting set up in our flat, Charles and I explored the surrounding suburb on foot. We needed to buy food for the week, as well as dinner, so a quick shop to the local IGA was called for. It being a Saturday, Charles and I decided to sample the local nightlife. This is where the brilliance of our location came in. Situated in Burnley, it is a mere hop, skip and a jump from Richmond, which arguably is one of the city’s most dense pub locals. A short walk from our place, put us at the doorstep of these venues. Suffice to say, we were not let down by Melbourne’s offerings.
Our first day in the office was an adventure. This was the first time that I was able to meet my colleagues (for the next 7 weeks). I felt instantly invited and welcome. The research team is led by Daniel Wild, deputy executive director of the IPA, Morgan Begg the director of the Legal Rights Program and John Storey as research fellow in the Legal Rights program, with Dr Kevin You and Saxon Davidson working as research fellows. Every one of these people make the office feel warm and inviting. Each member of the team made me feel like I was one of them, inviting me to coffee with them, and to get lunch. Further, arranging for us go to the Australian Open on the weekend.
Each day at the office, Charles and I would be assigned primarily research work. Such work would typically entail summarising cases, researching the financial and tax position of organisations, and drafting documents. Some research work of mine was incorporated into a publication, which then was reported in the cover story of The Australian. This was a great surprise to me. I felt overjoyed that my small contribution had made it into a major news article.
Each Friday, the office has a ‘social club’ where all staff are invited to socialise in the boardroom. This is a great way to meet the other people of the IPA, that I don’t have much weekly interactions with. Following social club, the Mitre Tavern offers a great place to unwind on a Friday evening. The whole IPA teams feels like one giant family.
When I’m not working at the office, Melbourne is great to explore. I spent one Saturday sight-seeing visiting the Royal Exhibition Pavilion, Lygon Street, and the State Library Victoria with its incredible central hall. Staying true to its stereotype, Melbourne has an incredible coffee culture (although I personally think it no better than Perth’s). Each alley and laneway features coffee shops galore. It is in one such location Charles and I were delighted to meet Mannkal’s Programs Director Kate Wagstaff (a Melbourne local), who delighted in telling us the best places to go in Melbourne. Further, Mannkal COO Nicola Wright hosted us at Beer Deluxe at Fed Square. It was a pleasurable evening spent sipping on some fine local beverages.
So far, my time interning at the IPA has been wonderful. Melbourne has more to offer that I am yet to experience. I once again extend my gratitude to the staff at Mannkal and the IPA for arranging for this to happen. I am learning so much from my time here about myself and about our great nation. The IPA appears at times to be a solitary voice for freedom, and to be able to lend myself to this calling is something I shall scarcely forget.