Cassandra Neate

Social Science
Winter 2018

From June to July 2018, I had the wonderful opportunity of interning with The North Australian Indigenous Land and Sea Management Alliance (NAILSMA) in Darwin, through the Aurora Internship Program.

NAILSMA is a non-governmental, not-for-profit organisation that works on land and sea management projects in collaboration with Indigenous land owners in northern Australia.

When I arrived, everyone was very welcoming and approachable, and throughout my internship I felt supported and appreciated and that I was a valuable part of the team.

I learnt so much from my time with NAILSMA, both personally and professionally, and found it so valuable to be able to ground the knowledge I have acquired from my undergraduate studies in Ecology and Indigenous Studies in a real-world context. In this, my understanding of work in the Indigenous sector was greatly expanded, as was my understanding of what full-time work of this nature involves.

It was very inspiring learning about all the different projects NAILSMA runs and is involved in, and it was also really interesting hearing the different paths and professional backgrounds that led different staff members to this work, which was of particular interest to me as an undergraduate student nearing graduation. In light of this, it was also really inspiring to see the passion and commitment that everyone at NAILSMA brought to their work, and the wealth of knowledge, experience and insight each of them held.

Over the month I was interning, I worked on a few different projects – one focussing on biosecurity educational materials and the other on economic development options for Traditional Owners in northern Australia, both of which were great opportunities for me to learn about and experience different aspects of project work and the extensive process it entails. Outside of my specific tasks, I also learnt a lot from conversations and interactions at the office, and from experiencing the dynamics of working in an office space and working full-time, which I found to be very different from my experience of full-time study.

Near the end of my internship, I was also lucky enough to have the wonderful opportunity of travelling to Maningrida for a few days, to see the work that the Djelk Rangers do looking after the land and sea surrounding Maningrida, which for me was an incredible experience, and one that I will treasure forever.

Overall, my experience as an intern with NAILSMA was very rewarding and worthwhile, and I learnt so much more than I would have from taking another class at university. The whole experience greatly expanded my knowledge and understanding of contemporary Indigenous affairs, exposed me to a diversity of learning opportunities and expanded my outlook beyond that which I have gained through my academic pursuits, to one that felt much more comprehensive.

As well as gaining valuable experience and skills applicable to future work and study, my internship with NAILSMA was also very important in contributing to the ongoing expansion of my own knowledge, understanding and awareness of Indigenous Australia, which, as a non-Indigenous settler-Australian, I believe I have the responsibility to pursue.

I would highly recommend doing an Aurora internship, it is such a great opportunity for both personal and professional growth, and although challenging at times, is so rewarding overall.