Sharlene Kuruppuarachchi

Winter 2018


I have been wanting to expand my understanding of Indigenous issues so I obtained an internship as part of the Aurora Internship Program, with ATNS Project. This is the Agreements, Treaties and Negotiated Settlement Project and it maintains a database of different agreements that Indigenous people enter into in Australia and overseas. The database is located in the Indigenous Studies Unit at the School of Population and Global Health at Melbourne University. I decided to choose this organisation because I want to gain an understanding of the types of agreements Indigenous people were making.

I had the pleasure of being one of two interns in this placement. The main task in this placement was to update the ATNS Database. I was provided with a list of entries to update and these were to be inputted into the database. I had to follow a set procedure manual for each different type of agreement. In addition I had to complete additional research on the agreement and add this to the entry. I found at first because I was unfamiliar with the database I had to understand where the entries went. I then inputted some entries. These were checked by a colleague who provided feedback. The feedback was valuable as it allowed me to see exactly what information was needed to be entered. During this placement I was able to input a number of entries into the database.

The other tasks I completed in this placement were administrative tasks for other staff members. I found it allowed me to see the other tasks staff complete in this organisation. In each of the tasks I was able to fully complete the task delegated to me and I found that I could be of assistance to staff. I found the staff at this organisation are friendly and welcoming. They made me feel like I was part of the team. They were even kind enough to allow me and the other intern to have a tour of Melbourne University. I did not go to this university but I found this tour helpful. I was also allowed to attend a lecture given at lunch time at the Melbourne Law School and also a lecture given by an academic at this school. I found this interesting even though it did not directly relate to Indigenous people.

I found for me I was moved by the additional research I had to complete for the ATNS entries. The fact that Indigenous history is not that well taught in schooling system which has contributed to my gaps in knowledge. I found whilst completing this placement I noticed that we do not talk about the Indigenous Economy. Indigenous people enter many contracts that it creates a number of cash flows in this market. I think research into this area as a subject area is undervalued and should be prioritised. This would allow Indigenous and non-Indigenous people to value the goods and services provided by this economy.

I would highly recommend considering an Aurora internship at ATNS Project. I would recommend applying for the winter 2019 intake so that you can see the work that is being done by Indigenous organisations.  Applications will open in March 2019 at