Luella Monson-Wilbraham

Summer 2010

Activate your Arts Degree with a Aurora Project Internship

Arts Degree students are often questioned about where their degree will take them. If majoring in anthropology the ‘please explain’ requests only multiply. While never doubting the validity of anthropology I too was beginning to question where it could take me when I chanced upon an internship program on La Trobe’s careers website that called for budding anthropologists and others.

The Aurora Project’s Native Title Internship Program places law, anthropology and social science students and graduates at Native Title Representative Bodies, and other organisations concerned with Indigenous issues, around Australia during university breaks. The Program aims to assist under resourced and over worked organisations while at the same time introducing talented people to career opportunities in the Indigenous area.

After a competitive but straightforward application process I was placed at the Secretariat of National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Child Care (SNAICC) in Melbourne. SNAICC is the national peak body representing the interests of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and families. It is a not-for-profit membership based organisation governed by a national executive of representatives from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children’s organisations.
I spent six interesting weeks at SNAICC working as a Project Assistant on their ongoing Healing Project which is looking at promising Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander healing practices and services that enhance wellbeing and go towards healing the continuing traumatic legacies of colonisation and disadvantage. I was involved in researching current literature on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander social and emotional wellbeing and healing practices, then scoping and documenting those healing practices and services, particularly in relation to children and families. I also took part in interviewing and visiting services and key leaders in the area of child and family welfare, and preparing material for publication.

Aurora interns are advised to enter their placement holding no expectations and a willingness to work hard. While this was great advice I still had hopes for a positive experience and a chance to contribute and learn. My hopes were more than met and my fear of sitting idle certainly did not materialise. My SNAICC supervisor was intent on providing new challenges and instruction on how to transfer my academic skills into the workplace. I was given the opportunity to network, attend seminars, take part in staff meetings and professional development, and improve my understanding of Indigenous issues.

The internship was also challenging and ultimately rewarding on a personal level. As a non-Indigenous person I found myself facing hard questions surrounding social equity and the relationships between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians. I met amazing people who gave me a clearer understanding of the continuing disadvantage faced by Indigenous people and their resilience and determination to bring about change. I also realised that I can play a part, however small, because building new partnerships is everyone’s business.

This is no ordinary program. The Aurora Project is interested in working with Indigenous communities and organisations in order to build capacity and relationships. The Aurora team are also interested in your experience as an intern and are on hand to offer support and guidance throughout your internship. Applications for the winter round of the Aurora Internships Program close April 1, 2010 and summer round applications open in August 2010. Visit or contact the Placements Team on (02) 94698100 for further information.