I was fortunate enough to spend 6 weeks working at Cairns for the Cape York Institute for Policy and Leadership and Balkanu Cape York Development Corporation as part of an internship through the Aurora project. Cape York Institute and Balkanu work with, and for, Aboriginal communities in Cape York to establish Aboriginal freehold land and to facilitate community capacity building. In particular, Cape York Institute and Balkanu focus much of their work on welfare reform, education, substance abuse, leadership development and economic development.
I am currently undertaking my Masters of International and Community Development and I have a background in conservation biology and ecology. Given that these organisations deal with both environmental and indigenous community issues, I was truly excited to be offered the intern position. I thought this would be the perfect placement to gain an understanding of how solutions to these important issues can be conceptualized and approached together.
This Aurora placement not only provided me with a better understanding of indigenous and environmental concerns; I also gained an appreciation of the range of work these indigenous institutions undertake and the valuable contributions they make to indigenous communities, despite their severe lack of resources. I successfully applied my knowledge in community development and conservation across a range of tasks undertaken during my placement. In this way, I was fortunate to gain experience in an area in which practical experience is essential, while providing much needed assistance to well‐deserving, under‐resourced institutions. During my placement I also met a number of people who were passionate and dedicated to improving the welfare of indigenous people and who may one day be future employers.
Aurora provides an opportunity for students to be placed within a range of indigenous organisations and Native Title Representative Bodies across the country. The tasks vary considerably depending on the needs of each organization however, you can be assured that any work you do is greatly appreciated. I would recommend an Aurora placement to any student interested in indigenous issues or native title. I truly value the opportunities I was provided with through this internship program and wish future applicants the best of luck!