As a recent graduate from a social science degree in anthropology and sociology I was very committed to developing my theoretical understanding of Indigenous culture and knowledge in a practical and professional work environment. This is what directed me to the Aurora Internship Program which provides 4-6 week placements with organisations that focus on native title, policy development, social justice and/or human rights with an Indigenous focus. After applying and being accepted for a placement with Ninti One in Alice Springs, I eagerly packed my bags and set off to the red centre to learn and contribute to an organisation dedicated to improving the lives of people living in remote Australia.
The Aurora Program enables students and graduates to be exposed to a career working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and provides interns the opportunity to expand their skills. From the first day at Ninti One, I was welcomed by an inspiring and extremely friendly team of individuals who provided me with many opportunities to contribute to and assist with their work. Ninti One has a strong belief in engaging with on the ground grass roots research to drive innovation, build opportunities and assist in community development projects in remote communities around Australia.
Most of my time at Ninti One was spent assisting my supervisor with the Stronger Communities for Children Program (SCfC). SCfC is a government funded program in 12 communities in the Northern Territory which focuses on child and youth development and wellbeing and is driven by local decision making from the community. I prepared a literature review for an external stakeholder centered on childhood education to better understand how to improve educational outcomes for Indigenous children. Within this, I gained a deeper understanding of the importance and challenges of implementing culturally appropriate education for ATSI people. I attended external meetings with stakeholders to learn about other initiatives and programs available to ATSI children and prepared educational resources and documents for a visit to community.
Ninti One manages projects and conducts research to help overcome the barriers facing development in remote communities and to explore ways to build opportunities for remote Australia. I had the opportunity to also assist in these projects. I spent time transcribing interviews and providing summaries to help develop data for projects which investigated ways to improve health services for people living with disabilities and chronic illness in remote Australia. Through this work I engaged with the Aboriginal Community Researchers network which is a unique and integral part of Ninti One. This is the foundation of community driven and grassroots research necessary to empower communities and build genuine opportunities.
The most rewarding aspect of my placement was the privileged opportunity to spend time with a community involved in SCfC. While in community, I spent time engaging with individuals from all areas of community and other service providers to understand the community voice. Research conducted prior to my week which expanded me theoretical knowledge of Indigenous Australia was further compounded by my time on community and exposed me to the challenges and the different aspects of community development. It was a thoroughly rewarding experience
My time at Ninti One built my understanding of the social, economic and political environment in Aboriginal communities and enhanced my understanding about Indigenous Australia which has made me feel better prepared to continue with a career in this field. I was definitely inspired to commit to further work with Indigenous people despite the complexities of the struggle for reconciliation and justice.
The Aurora Internship Program is a practical and genuine Program which enables students and graduates to expand their interests in Indigenous Australia and assist organisations which continue to work in this challenging sphere. It is a brilliant way to live somewhere remote and learn more about the inspiring and resilient Indigenous culture. I would recommend the Program to anyone who is interested in working outside their comfort zone and interested in immersing yourself into Australia’s ongoing battle for reconciliation and equality for our First Nations People. Applications for the winter 2016 round will be open from 7 March through 1 April online via the website at http://www.auroraproject.com.au/aurorainternshipprogram.