Interning in Darwin during July, escaping the -5 weather of Canberra and entering a balmy 30-degree day average was a definite bonus I hadn’t considered when applying for an Aurora internship with NAAJA, the North Australian Aboriginal Justice Agency. Although sunshine is a sure fire way to perk up any mid-winter blues, it was merely a side serve to the incredible opportunities I was afforded on my internship.
My placement was for four weeks with NAAJA’s Law and Justice Projects section, with their Community Legal Education team. You never really know what to expect from an internship – whether you’ll be relegated to filing and coffee making duties or whether you’ll get the opportunity to really sink your teeth into some interesting work, luckily for me it was the latter.
From the outset at NAAJA, everyone was so incredibly friendly and interested in what work I wanted to do. During my time I had a huge variety of work covering a range of equally engaging topics. I completed education resources for a range of short films focusing on child protection, aspects of bail and assault. Through consultation with the civil law section I began the development of a family law package for use through the Community Legal Education program, comprising of visual aids, an interactive lesson plan and plain English fact sheets highlighting key legal messages.
From parole applications to family mediation meetings, prison visits, client interactions, tele-conference calls with community elders, case research to coronial inquests; my work experience was an incredible mixture of fascinating areas and opportunities.
I expressed my significant interest in Youth criminal law and was taken to the magistrates’ court and allowed to assist for the day. I observed a number of cases, accompanied meetings with clients in custody to take instructions and discussed post bail accommodation alternatives for specific clients with representatives of the DCF. It was a fantastic experience and definitely an insight into the practical world of youth law.
The highlight of my experience however was my week trip to the remote communities of Peppimenarti and Wadeye. My trip was as part of the community legal education team, and I accompanied two staff members, to a variety of stakeholder training sessions. The sessions were delivered to the local schools, safe houses, night patrol and girls groups and covered topics of cyberbullying and sexting, child protection, the criminal process and bail. The trip was both educational and rewarding. Being able to see the resources we had been developing used in practice and engaging with the community to ascertain what it was they wanted to know and areas of need. I met some amazing people and gained an invaluable insight into the extensive remote ground work that NAAJA do.
If you are interested in working with the Indigenous community NAAJA offers a diverse range of legal and legal education opportunities. Applications for the upcoming winter round of internships will be open on-line via the Aurora website from 7 March through 1 April at http://www.auroraproject.com.au/nativetitleinternshipprogram