In July 2019, through the Aurora Internship Program, I was fortunate enough to take part in an internship at Aboriginal Legal Services – Kalgoorlie for four weeks.
[Text Box: Hannan Street, Kalgoorlie] From my first day of the internship, I was thrown in the deep end, given multiple files to review along with disclosure from the police for upcoming cases. This included reviewing evidence from CCTV, police statements, video record of interviews and warrant videos. From here, the ALS lawyers use the summaries and transcripts to create their arguments and present the information to the client. Exposure to this legal environment is unique, especially with the opportunity to travel out to remote communities and follow cases from the investigative stages through to sentencing.
No two days on placement were ever the same within ALS. Observing court cases in the Magistrate’s Court occurred weekly. Towards the end of the internship, I was able to handle some adjournments in court for ongoing cases, gaining practical experience. Research duties were also part of my internship, specifically in regard to causation. Not only was this beneficial to the ALS lawyer and the case at hand, it also provided exposure to and an understanding of legal theory used and how it was applied in a practical setting.
A highlight was traveling on Circuit Court to Lenora, driving through the beautiful remote country of WA. With clients living in remote areas, Circuit Court brings the justice system to these remote parts of Australia. Within the organised chaos, time is of the essence when meeting with clients for the first time and reviewing / discussing their instructions before court.
This experience has contributed greatly to my law degree by furthering my understanding of Aboriginal people within an unfamiliar Eurocentric legal system. Practical experience within high pressure situations, while having to understand and apply a degree of cultural sensitivity was an invaluable lesson that cannot be taught in a lecture theatre, which I will take and use within my future career.
This has been a once in a life time experience and I am grateful to have been given the opportunity to work alongside ALS lawyers and Court Officers, which provided unique hands on experience, and an opportunity to work with and understand the legal issues that the wider Aboriginal community face within the Australian legal system. I would strongly recommend an Aurora internship to anyone with the slightest passion to learn about Aboriginal culture and how it interacts with the Australian legal system.
For more information regarding the opportunities that Aurora offers, visit http://auroraproject.com.au/about-internship-program Applications for the winter 2020 round will be open in March 2020.
By Emma Lewis