Yazan Suleiman

Aboriginal Legal Services
Winter 2019


Initially, I was very hesitant to travel to Darwin to take part in the Aurora Internship Program placement. I did not have any contacts there and needed to ensure that I had enough personal funds to cover the costs of the entire placement. Nonetheless, I have previously travelled interstate and overseas to take part in internship programs and I have never been disappointed with the experiences I have gained as a result. The idea of this motivated me to accept the Aurora internship and travel to Darwin to begin my placement with NAAJA. On my first day in Darwin, I experienced a huge culture shock; I felt as though I had arrived in an entirely different country. Everything was rather quiet, presumably because of how low the population is. While family in Sydney were complaining about how cold it was, I was struggling to keep a shirt on!


I felt very welcomed by NAAJA staff on my first day in the office. I was introduced to everyone in the Law and Justice team fairly quickly and I spent the majority of my first day doing some very interesting readings on cross cultural understanding. Being apart of the Law and Justice team was great because of how diverse the work done was. Over the course of my time with the Law and Justice team, I gained an unimaginable amount of experience. I prepared community profiles for the various remote Aboriginal Communities across the NT, some of which NAAJA staff would visit on a regular basis. I prepared submissions for NAAJA’s Bilata Legal Pathways Program, a program to encourage greater participation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in the studies of law and within the legal profession. I accompanied NAAJA staff to various meetings that revolved around the upcoming National Indigenous Legal and Medical Conferences. I worked on article collations in relation to the various issues faced by the Indigenous community. I helped in locating potential grants for future NAAJA projects. I worked on promotional materials for the Conferences. The work I undertook at NAAJA was extensive and I don’t think it is possible for me to list all of it in this reflection! Ultimately, it was diverse and equipped me with an abundance of technical and general paralegal experience.

The highlight of my placement was definitely being granted the privilege of attending Maningrida, a remote Aboriginal community in the NT. The locals appreciated the effort and time taken by NAAJA to deliver information on serious topics, including domestic violence and alcohol and drug abuse. It was a very life-affirming moment when I helped run educational sessions for Aboriginal youth in Maningrida. I believe youth engagement is pivotal when it comes to creating positive social change and being presented with this opportunity was really humbling.  

I also had the opportunity to work across the Civil team. I worked on a wide range of matters, including producing submissions against private organisations that were exploiting our clients, assisting in housing applications, drafting letters to clients, producing legal memos, and much more! One memorable experience with the Civil team was when I attended a restricted area in the Supreme Court of the NT on behalf of NAAJA to source some original documents. It was a real motivator!

When I was not working, I was spending time with other Aurora interns and friends that I had made back at my accommodation. Attending the Mindil Beach Sunset Market was great and I would recommend it to anyone considering an internship in Darwin. There were so many foods to choose from and watching the sunset at the beach was memorable!