While completing my Law and International Development degrees I always wanted to do an Aurora internship and it was once I graduated that I found the time. I did my internship with Native Title Services Victoria (NTSV). NTSV provides professional services to Victorian Traditional Owners in their pursuit of native title rights and interests. The organisation comprises of a legal department, a research department and a policy and development department. The policy and development team works with Traditional Owners, government and other stakeholders to actualise and enhance beneficial outcomes from native title or other land settlements. It was within this area that I chose to be placed for my internship because it is of the most interest to me and is where I’d like to take my future career.
During my internship I worked most closely with the Natural Resource Management Advisors. One of my main tasks was to conduct a literature review on Payments for Ecosystem Services as a sustainable development opportunity for Traditional Owners. Another task was helping with strategic planning by developing diagrams and tables that reflected the objectives of the team. I also worked with the Legal and Policy Officer on a project looking into best practice for undertaking research with Traditional Owners, to inform the development of a Memorandum of Understanding between students and Traditional Owners.
As well as undertaking these office based tasks I was invited to attend various offsite meetings and presentations including the Native Title and Economic Conference which happened to take place during my time at NTSV. The conference was fantastic – I got to meet and learn from Traditional Owners and others from around the country about Indigenous economic development. Another highlight of my internship was participating in cultural awareness training with a Wurundjeri Elder. This was an extremely enriching and inspiring experience.
My internship gave me great exposure to working in Indigenous affairs and has made me even more determined to pursue a career in this field. It was challenging at times to be exposed to the struggle of Traditional Owners and the injustices of the past and present. But it was uplifting to be part of an organisation which is all about their empowerment.
The staff at NTSV were very friendly and I enjoyed getting to know them more during lunchtime breaks and social events. It was fascinating to be surrounded by people from different areas – anthropology, history, law, natural resource management, economics… I had many interesting conversations from which I learnt a lot.
I think all students should undertake an internship during or after their studies. Internships give you real-life experience that you don’t gain at university, and provide a stepping stone to moving into the workplace. I have completed two internships, one of them through Aurora, and the beauty of the Aurora program is that you have an organisation behind you who facilitates it and is there to support you. I would recommend an Aurora internship to anyone, and one with NTSV in particular if you want to be part of a dynamic and diverse organisation at the forefront of native title and Aboriginal affairs in Victoria.
Applications are open twice a year and more information can be found by visiting: http://auroraproject.com.au/internship-program. Applications for the winter 2018 round will be open from 5 through 30 March 2018.