This summer, I decided to flee the Brisbane heat and head down to Melbourne to complete a 6-week internship with the NNTC (National Native Title Council) as part of the Aurora Internship Program. As this was my first Aurora internship, and my first real full-time experience working in Indigenous affairs, I didn’t really know what to expect or how the native title industry functioned. After 6 weeks of working with the NNTC, however, I feel like I have a fair insight into the joys and frustrations of working in Indigenous advocacy. And I also experienced the joys and frustrations of living and working in inner city Melbourne- while the CBD rat race was a shock to the system, the superb and abundant coffee definitely made it worthwhile!
Looking back, I think I was very well placed at the NNTC. I was predominantly working on an Indigenous water research project titled the ‘National Cultural Flows Research Project’. This project seeks to provide a bank of nationally recognised research in support of the inclusion of Indigenous water allocations in state and national water plans. It was exciting to be working on frontier research like this, and I was given great responsibility and autonomy in the work I was assigned. Among other things, my main duties were:
· Drafting up a new communications plan for the NCFRP
· Compiling an ongoing research document on the state of Cultural Flows research across the country. This included contacting the relevant government agencies and water holders to better inform my desktop research.
· Compiling a new Project Summary document, which will be distributed to the Project’s stakeholders and investors
· Updating the NCFRP website and the NNTC websites, including attending meetings with the web designers
· Taking minutes at the Project’s board meeting and actioning items in response
After working with the NNTC staff, I really grew to appreciate the work they were doing. Indigenous rights to water are severely limited (and sometimes non-existent) in Australia, and it is the efforts of projects like the NCFRP that make Aboriginal water a topic for national discussion.
While of course there were challenges associated with moving down to Melbourne temporarily for the internship and settling into a new workplace, I found that Aurora was incredibly supportive and helpful throughout the whole process, not to mention the staff at NNTC who were patient and kind. I learnt an enormous amount about working for an NGO and their relationship with governmental bodies. I grew confident in my skill-set and realised that my BSc/BA has actually prepared me very well for working life.
For anyone interested in pursuing a career in Indigenous affairs, I would definitely recommend an internship with Aurora! Your work as an intern will actually be appreciated by your host organisation, as it is likely that they are very under-resourced and time poor.
Thank you to Aurora and NNTC for a terrific experience!
Applications for the upcoming winter 2016 round of internships will be open from 9am AEDT Monday 7th March through 5pm AEDT Friday 1st April 2016.
See http://www.auroraproject.com.au/aboutapplyinginternship for more details.