Sharna Trigg

Social Science
Native Title
Mt Isa
Summer 2015

In November of 2014 I was flown to Karratha to complete an internship with Kuruma Marthudunera Aboriginal Corporation (KMAC). I gained this placement through the Aurora Internship Program. The process for gaining the internship was straight forward; it was like applying for a job. I sent in my resume, I had an interview and then confirmation and my placement was communicated shortly afterwards.

I am from Perth and have been my entire life, so Karratha was a long way away and a shock when I first got offered the placement. I jumped at the opportunity to not only expand my knowledge and apply my studies to work situations but to travel a little bit further and fully immerse myself in whatever experience was to come. In November I had just completed my last exam ever for my undergraduate degree and less than a week later I was on a plane. We all know that feeling when exams are over, a weight has been lifted and you are excited and free. Well that is still what I felt like jumping on that plane, like nothing could stop me.

When my plane landed in Karratha I was picked up from the airport and taken to the KMAC office where I was introduced to half of the staff there as others were attending a meeting for the day. I was put to work. I am not going to lie the first day scared me a bit, I had just landed, it was 1pm and I was reading a proposed agreement that’s format and jargon was unknown to me. I worked on this for the next three days, understood it, analysed it and then nothing scared me again. This I took as a good thing, being able to learn and work independently on your own is a must but do not be scared to ask questions. Everyone is friendly and approachable and I have no doubt that you will have questions during your time there.

During my time at KMAC I had a variety of different tasks to complete. These ranged from tasks as simple as addressing letters or answering the phone to editing reports and updating The Keeping Place (this is the software package that KMAC has for managing the storage of its cultural heritage information). In my time there I also saw the newsletter which I worked on, finished and printed. Most of my time was spent from 8:30-5 in the office in Karratha but for 3 days I went out on a short archaeological survey with a consultant company, a Traditional Owner and a mining company. This has to be one of the best experiences I had. This was total immersion. I had no contact with anyone at home, I was in a different place with more different people and learning different things. It was hot and difficult at times but definitely worth it. On the survey we had to traverse certain sections that were marked for drilling and indicate if there were any artefacts or archaeological significance on these drill lines. At this time I applied what I had learnt about identifying stone tools into a real life situation. I also learnt new things from Traditional Owners that will stay with me forever and got support from senior archaeologists that I am glad were there to help me.

The greatest thing about working at KMAC was learning new things and applying old knowledge into different situations. I was given responsibilities while I was there that exceeded my expectations and also made some friends along the way. Just remember while you are in Karratha that it is not all about the internship, you have nights and weekends to see what is out there. I was only interning for 4 weeks with 3 weekends, one of which was spent on survey. I wish I had some more time to explore, so get out there is my advice.  My accommodation was in Point Sampson, it was beautiful but a 45 minute drive from work. This seemed tedious to start with but I really began to enjoy the drive and find now back home that everything is so close with so much traffic that I long for the long country roads again.

This internship was a great opportunity for me, not only does it look great on a resume but it opened my eyes to new and different possibilities for my future that I had not thought of before. I realised that I can do a job like this, in an office and out on survey. It taught me that I know more than I think and that I can do whatever comes next. I am unsure of what is next right now, continuing study, joining the workforce or both. I do know that the internship has taught me new things about my possible career, native title but most importantly myself. I learnt a lot about myself in my 4 weeks in Karratha that I am glad of.

If you are looking to pursue any type of career with an Indigenous focus in law, anthropology or social science I would strongly recommend an Aurora Internship. It is an experience like no other that will throw you out of your comfort zone. Be open minded, push through fear and try new things. If you are looking for employment, continuing studies or do not know what the future holds you should apply for the Aurora Internship Program. For more information see  Applications for the winter 2015 round will be open from 2 March through 27 March 2015.