Shannon Casey

Social Science
Winter 2018


As a recent economics and social policy graduate, I saw the Aurora Internship Program as a unique opportunity to gain tangible experience and insight within the Indigenous sector. I was placed at the Australian Indigenous Governance Institute (AIGI), an Indigenous led organisation focussed on culturally legitimate and effective governance best practice and research, located at the Australian National University (ANU) in Canberra for six weeks.


My experience at AIGI has broadened not only my knowledge of Indigenous governance issues, but has given me the confidence to develop written material for various audiences and work in a small organisation environment. This was made easy as I was welcomed from the start by a passionate group and had the support of my supervisor, Dale Sutherland.


The project I worked on involved editing, updating and expanding the Indigenous governance workshop materials for future use in guiding organisations through building and maintaining effective and culturally legitimate governance structures. The project involved synthesising research material into a digestible learning format, maintaining a cohesive voice and style. Essential to my work was the research done by the Centre for Aboriginal Economic Policy Research (CAEPR), and the ongoing best practice examples highlighted through the Indigenous Governance Awards. 


A challenge I found was during busy periods finding time to access my supervisor especially at points when I felt I needed guidance for the next step. However, this was a good learning process in having to take full advantage of the times I did have (making it easy by being prepared) and forced me to take initiative to find different aspects to research and write about that could be used in conjunction with the teaching material I was working on. I would highly recommend going into the Aurora internship experience with a proactive and enthusiastic attitude. 


The timing of my internship overlapped with quite a busy period for the organisation, which included the ANU Indigenous Governance Forum which brought together many guest speakers from different national and international perspectives. We were lucky enough to not only hear from some of the speakers, but to attend the National Press Club, a uniquely Canberra experience.


Another highlight was the Indigenous Data Sovereignty Summit, an Indigenous-only initiative of AIGI which brought together government, community and research from various different sectors including health, education and statistics. The summit was inspiring to see as it was an Indigenous lead discussion of real issues and ideas. It gave me insight into the power of a collaborative and consensus approach to decision making and the difficulties around who can speak for whom. I learnt a lot, both from the content of the day and also from the process and facilitation aspect.


On a personal level, I was able to fully engage with this opportunity thanks to the connections I made and support I received, both within AIGI and from the other Aurora interns. During my time at AIGI I felt like we were right in the middle of some of the big and important debates going on in Indigenous Australia today. I think that the space and voice that AIGI is creating for itself within the Indigenous governance space will be interesting to follow. For anyone considering working in the Indigenous sector I would strongly encourage applying for the Aurora internship.


Applications for the summer 2018/19 round are currently open and will close at 5pm on Friday the 31st of August. For more information, visit