My Aurora internship at the Secretariat of Aboriginal and Islander Childcare (SNAICC) in Melbourne followed hot on the heels of my first Aurora internship at the Aboriginal Legal Service (ALS) in Sydney at the start of the year. What was particularly rewarding was the opportunity to extend the skills that I developed working on reports, submissions and policy documents at ALS through the three months I spent with the policy team at SNAICC. Here, instead of constantly switching between several short assignments, I was given the opportunity to work consistently on the one report. It took me several weeks to get my head around the project, but once I settled into it, I very much looked forward to my two days in the office each week, slowly chipping away and filling out different sections of the project at hand.
In addition to helping with any other tasks at hand, my role principally comprised pulling together a report around Aboriginal Child and Family Centres based off data collected in interviews undertaken by a previous Aurora intern. This necessitated the synthesis a large amount of information into a concise and legible format, allowing me to develop skills in data analysis as well as structuring, writing and editing policy documents. I really appreciated this independence and responsibility in working on the many different sections of this significant report and managing my own workload all the while. At all times I felt as though my contributions were not only taken into account but valued. In particular, having the opportunity to follow a project through to (almost) completion was fantastic.
As opposed to working full time for five weeks, a part-time internship over three months allowed me to become familiar with the work SNAICC does and everyone who does it in quite a different way. From day one, everyone in the office was incredibly welcoming and my supervisor in particular was very generous with her time, always happy to talk through my endless questions and offering constructive feedback on my work. The rest of the staff were likewise always more than happy to share their thoughts and experiences, all of which clarified and expanded ways of approaching complex and interlocking issues. I also learnt a lot through attending meetings, weekly staff briefings and community events, giving me a strong appreciation of the sheer commitment it takes to run an organisation like SNAICC – it looks a lot bigger from the outside, but actually the relatively small number of staff punch far above their weight!
All in all, through this internship I learnt more about the many different aspects of working in policy, gaining an appreciation for both the importance of this type of work as well as its limitations and frustrations. Although I often work with and alongside young people, early childhood education is not an area in which I have had much engagement, and I will carry an immense appreciation of the importance of this work and the people who do it with me into the future. In particular, I gained invaluable insight into the many possible ways of advocating for the rights and wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and young people. For more information on undertaking an Aurora internship yourself check out http://auroraproject.com.au/what-aurora-internship. Applications for the summer 2017/18 round are open now through 25 August.