This was the first time I commenced an internship so naturally I was nervous about the experience, however the Aurora team were helpful throughout my application process, kept regular communication and with excellent host matching skills and follow up support I was on placement with Danila Dilba Health Service.
My passion is working with Indigenous young people from remote areas, as I worked with youth and families in the Northern Territory prior to moving to Brisbane to pursue a social work degree. During my 1st year of study I took an interest in the Human Rights subject and did a group assessment on the mistreatment of young people in NT detention centres. So to gain an internship opportunity in Darwin Don Dale Youth Detention Centre suited me perfectly. I plan on returning to the NT to work once I graduate.
Danila Dilba Health Service (DDHS) are an outstanding host who value cultural integrity and lead the way in Darwin as an Aboriginal organisation working with Indigenous families and communities to address health holistically. I commenced my placement with the Policy Team and Don Dale Youth Support (DDYS) team who were welcoming, professional and supportive. After the completion of my internship DDHS offered me full time employment with the Don Dale Youth Support (DDYS) team until my return to Brisbane in mid Feb. DDHS has also offered me work in the upcoming school holidays and potential future employment after I graduate.
Some of my duties included:
- Knowledge of the findings and recommendations of the royal commission into the protection and detention of children in the Northern Territory.
- Data collection of youth in Darwin and Alice Springs detention centres for example: age, gender, place of residence, type of offence, remand period, sentence length, recidivism patterns and involvement with the child protection system.
- Research of successful youth justice re-education/rehabilitation models in New Zealand, Canada, America and Spain to adapt in the Northern Territory.
Don Dale Youth Support Team (DDYST)
- Assisted the youth workers with engagement and program preparation/delivery in Don Dale Youth Detention Centre including: yarning circles & cultural ownership, sport and recreation, drama based therapeutic sessions, cooking, mentoring, Aboriginal art, music, making tracks (eg. leadership, Indigenous history) and health sessions.
- Trust and rapport building with young people from various urban and remote locations across the NT. Assisted in de-escalating situations when there were conflicts between young people and youth justice officers.
- Post release support for young people leaving detention.
- Networking with other stake holders such as: Territory Families, Education and NGOs.
In the policy team I gained thorough knowledge of the royal commission recommendations and alternative approaches to detention such as the Diagrama Foundation Youth Educational Centres in Spain and the UK which DDHS is a strong advocate for adaptation of this model in the NT.
Working with the Don Dale Youth Support Team was a great insight into how the government system, facility and staff operate, which recommendations have been actioned and which have not. The entire DDYS team are Indigenous youth workers and social workers and I saw the importance of this within the detention centre as majority of young people are Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander. As an Indigenous woman sometimes it was inappropriate for me to be involved in certain activities such as Men’s health discussions and I took guidance from the Indigenous male youth workers to do other jobs while these sessions occurred. Indigenous cultural ways of doing and knowing worked in our favour when it came to conducting ourselves appropriately and understanding the cultural/spiritual sphere of the young people’s lives.
I would highly recommend Danila Dilba Health Service as a host organisation to future interns.