If you had told me at the beginning of my law degree that I would travel to a remote town in the middle of Northern Territory to complete an internship I would have probably laughed. However, at the end of my degree and beginning to worry about not having enough experience, I decided to apply to the Aurora Internship Program. I thought this was the perfect opportunity to challenge myself and see how the law operates in a completely different environment. It also gave me a great chance to move to a different environment to Melbourne and live in a different part of Australia for a period of time.
Once being selected for the program, it all happened quite fast. One week I was completing my final exams and the next I was travelling on the Greyhound Bus from Darwin to Katherine. I arrived on the Sunday night and work began on the Monday, so I was very keen to get straight into it.
I was allocated to the Civil Team at NAAJA. The kind of work that the Civil Team does is quite broad and provides a really good insight into some of the social issues that exist in the Northern Territory. For example, many of the cases involved clients having debts with government agencies such as Centrelink and Department of Housing. The other types of cases that I got to work on include complaints to the Anti-Discrimination Commission, the Northern Territory Ombudsman regarding police conduct and to the Health Services Commissioner. Another area of law which was quite intense was child protection matters. These cases are heard in closed courts and often involve Territory Families making submissions as to why children were not safe with their biological parents.
Even though you do general administrative work like reviewing files and following up with clients which can be mundane, there is also a great opportunity to do some really interesting work. Some of the more noteworthy tasks that I was able to participate in included assessing clients’ claims and drafting their complaints. A highlight was being able to attend a conciliation between our client and the Department of Education. This was part of an Anti-Discrimination complaint against the school that the client’s child was enrolled in. We were able to sit with the Department and come to a resolution that both parties were happy to go ahead with rather than an independent person making their own decision that both parties might not be satisfied with.
I also had the opportunity to travel to some of the remote communities that are near Katherine. I highly recommend doing this if the chance arises! The communities are something that I have not seen before, and the way of life is completely different. It is in these communities where the issues that exist in the Northern Territory can easily be observed and it can be quite clear that not enough is being done.
Overall the experience was hugely rewarding both on a personal and professional level. I would recommend to anyone to pursue an internship through Aurora and in particular, NAAJA. It’s a great opportunity to learn about yourself and how the law operates in a different environment. This experience has shaped both how I see the law and my perspective on the country and some of the issues that exist within this country.
http://auroraproject.com.au/about-internship-program. Applications for the winter 2020 round will be open from 2 through 27 March 2020.