During February 2016, I was fortunate enough to complete an internship with the Office of Aboriginal Affairs Victoria (OAAV) in the Department of Premier and Cabinet. I was involved in a research project aimed at commemorating Aboriginal people from Victoria who enlisted for service in WWI. There has been a push recently to acknowledge the Aboriginal men and women who have served in the Australian defence forces, so I felt privileged to be involved in this movement. As 2015 was the centenary of ANZAC, it is a good time to gaze back on this history.
My role was to help complete individual profiles about the servicemen using their military records, as well as additional resources, to assemble a picture of their war experience and post-war life. I also began an early draft on a user guide for members of the public with information about the project and how to access it. The project built on my historical research skills, which was an area I didn’t have much exposure to previously. I also learnt about some of the issues in the history of Victoria in relation to Aboriginal peoples’ experiences. I had access to some historical material that I wouldn’t have known about, which personified the stories I had only learnt about in a broad sense.
While I was mainly involved in the research project, I was surrounded by people in the office who were working on different projects, particularly involved in community liaison. Everyone I met was very friendly and welcoming. Before the internship, I was a bit intimidated about being in this environment. I really value the friendly interactions I had at OAAV as they built my confidence in approaching the work.
As well as learning about Victorian Aboriginal WWI history, I also gained some insight into state government processes through my supervisors. I have more of an understanding about working in this sector and while I'm currently studying psychology, I am still interested in this work. I saw a lot of personal investment and community liaison at OAAV.
This internship allowed me to meet people who work in Indigenous affairs outside of an academic setting, which was a great new experience. I was able to witness some of the realities of working in this area, as well as meet some Aboriginal people who work in the office. I’m looking forward to the project’s launch date on May 31 and hope the Victorian Aboriginal community benefit from this project.
For more information or to apply for the winter 2016 round of Aurora internships, visit http://www.auroraproject.com.au/aurorainternshipprogram. Applications for will be accepted from 9am AEDT Monday 7th March until 5pm AEDT Friday 1st April 2016.