Theodore Butcher

Winter 2019


This internship at Aboriginal Victoria as part of the Aurora Internship Program was a unique opportunity for me to discover the work done in a government department dedicated to Indigenous affairs, and thus to understand the stakes as well as the ins and outs of public policies in this field, while gaining meaningful professional knowledge and skills.

Indeed, during the 4 weeks I spent in the department, I was given the opportunity to work on the Aboriginal Lands Act 1970, which has a bearing on the economic and social life of two Aboriginal communities in Victoria. I thus had the opportunity to do research related to Indigenous Data Sovereignty, a concept that the government wants to implement in the way it administers the Aboriginal Lands Act. This is a complex subject but one that is proving to be promising both in terms of social well-being and self-determination, and whose implementation in government policies would allow for a better understanding of the needs and issues faced by communities.

Besides, I devoted a significant part of my work to land title searches on the properties owned by communities as well as to update the data at our disposal concerning the beneficiaries of the First Mortgage and Community Infrastructure program (FMCIP), a program designed to allow Aboriginal organisations who own property over which the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs holds a first mortgage to have the mortgage removed. Even though this work was somewhat repetitive, the efforts required in terms of investigation were stimulating.

Overall, I was able to learn a great deal about how Aboriginal communities work and the complexity of their relationship with government. Above all, I feel that the work done was meaningful and will contribute to improving the management of this community in the interest of its members. As a result, the work I did was not only interesting, but also gives me the feeling of having been useful and contributing to the improvement of the living conditions of Victorian Aboriginal peoples.

I also really enjoyed the positive working environment and communication with other colleagues. Indeed, the kindness of my colleagues and the quality of the human relations within the team made this internship particularly enjoyable. Therefore, I feel particularly lucky to have been surrounded by people who wanted to help me in my work and made me feel part of the team.

In sum, these four weeks spent at Aboriginal Victoria have been more rewarding than I could have ever imagined and I am deeply grateful to Aurora for having given me such an opportunity to gain such professional and personal development.