Soraya Wyssusek

Winter 2018

I decided to apply for an Aurora internship in the final semester of my Bachelor of Arts, in which I took an extended major in anthropology. At that point in my degree, getting a taste of ‘real life anthropology’ was exactly what I wanted and also felt I needed to do. When a lecturer introduced me to the Aurora Internship Program, it sounded like an opportunity I did not want to miss!


Before the internship, I was not at all familiar with the breadth of work done within the Indigenous sector, so I went in with little idea of what to expect, however a great deal of interest and anticipation. I was super excited when I was placed at the Aboriginal Areas Protection Authority (AAPA) in Darwin, which was one of the five organisations I had ‘shortlisted’ during the application process. I was both interested in the work AAPA does, and keen to work in city away from home.


This internship was my first experience working full-time in a professional office environment, so I was relieved to find a relatively laid-back work environment. I was also very grateful for the generous hospitality of everyone at AAPA, with many of the staff going out of their way to make me feel absolutely welcome and included.


At AAPA I was tasked mainly with writing up sacred site registration reports. These eventually are presented to the board for approval, which then enables the Authority to officially register, and take steps to protect sacred sites. The work mainly involved lots of reading of anthropological field notes and other literature on things like custodianship and totemism, basic data entry, report writing and compiling of missing information. I mostly worked independently, under the guidance of one of the anthropologists/researchers at AAPA. Although getting my head around the processes involved in these tasks, and learning to use very specific software was challenging, knowing that the work I was doing had practical and valuable effects was all the motivation I needed.


The prospect of spending six weeks in Darwin was a little daunting at first, as I knew little about the ‘Top End’. I was pleasantly surprised to find a vibrant little city that kept me well occupied during my spare time, with festivals and art fairs and all sorts of events going on every week.


During my six weeks at AAPA, I gained a significant insight into the field of Indigenous environmental and cultural heritage, as well as the day-to-day reality of anthropological work. I was challenged to adapt to a new city and work environment and believe that as a result I have gained a great deal of practical experience and skills, that will undoubtedly assist me in my future endeavours. I have also gained a great sense of appreciation for the work that organisations such as AAPA do.


I feel incredibly privileged to have been able to undertake an Aurora internship and would recommend the experience to anyone. Even if you are unsure of what path you wish to take after university, the experience will open your eyes to some of the incredibly interesting work in this sector, and I guarantee that you will leave with a bunch of great memories, new skills, and interests.


You can find all the details of the Internship Program at  Applications are open in March and August each year via their website.