I came to Australia for the first time in 2009 to conduct my honors research thesis focused on Australian Aboriginal Land Rights. I achieved a Master's in anthropology overseas, and I decided to come back to Australia to gain practical experience in the field of applied anthropology working with Indigenous people. I tried to get involved in projects and work that included anthropological research but was really hard. I then was successfully placed as an intern vian the Aurora Internship Program and I felt really excited to find a Program that provides support to get students and graduates involved in the small professional Indigenous sector. I applied for an internshipin the anthropological stream, I had a face to face interview in Adelaide where I was living and after a waiting period I got the good news: I have been placed with the Aboriginal Areas Protection Authority (AAPA) in Alice Springs.
AAPA is an independent statutory authority established under the Northern Territory Aboriginal Sacred Sites Act. It is responsible for overseeing the protection of Aboriginal sacred sites on land and sea across the whole of Australia’s Northern Territory. All sacred sites in the Northern Territory are protected by the Northern Territory Aboriginal Sacred Sites Act. The Authority maintains records of all sacred sites that it has identified in the Northern Territory. The sites that the Authority holds records for are recorded and registered sacred sites. These sites are required to be comprehensively documented and evaluated before going through the formal registration process.
My task was to review outstanding requests for registration of sacred sites and identify where either, there were gaps in research that needed to be undertaken by Research Field Officers or alternatively where the gaps in the specific reports may be able to be garnered through other reports to complete the registration process. The purpose was to finalise as many incomplete site registrations as possible in order for the completed reports to be presented to the Aboriginal Areas Protection Authority Board for consideration and approval therefore formalising and recognising the site as an official and registered sacred site
The team at AAPA was helpful from before we actually met, as they funded my travel fares and provided useful information via e-mail about the project so that I could hit the ground running. Once I got up there, everybody was so welcoming and made me feel like I was part of the “family” straight away. The AAPA team in Alice Springs is very simple and well organised, with the manager, project officer and supervisor, office administrator and anthropologist researchers. They provide me with my own office space and computer, all set up with personal email and accounts linked to professional software.
I learnt about the use of archival research of anthropological data as it relates to protecting sacred sites
and also produced written reports using this information. Moreover, I increased my understanding about
the role of applied anthropology in Central Australia, particularly regarding custodianship of sacred sites. Whilst I did not get to conduct fieldwork research as this was not required of the tasks set, I was able to observe AAPA staff conducting fieldwork and in doing so gained insight into the role requirements.
Other than be rewarding from a professional aspect, the internship at AAPA in Alice Springs was such an amazing time in terms of social relationships and daily life experiences. It provided plenty of opportunities to make new friends as many people come to work or intern there in different areas. It is also the best way to experience Central Australia in all its beauty.