Spending six weeks at APO NT via the Aurora Internship Program was the perfect end to my time at university and start of a next chapter. I just finished my Honours year and stepping out of the books and into the real world was a difficult but much needed and welcomed change.
Working in a peak Aboriginal-controlled organisation was a real eye opener and an amazing introduction into the way business is done, relationships are approached and what principles are at the heart of the work in the Indigenous sector. It was also really valuable to see this play out in the NT context which has a very particular political landscape, demographics, issues and has very strong Aboriginal leadership.
At APO NT I was involved in Housing policy. At the time I arrived the NT Government seemed to be reform- crazy in the housing space so there was lots of activity going on that I was able to observe or contribute to- focus groups, workshops, high level meetings with other stakeholders and the Territory Government. Many would refer to Aboriginal housing as at a crisis point and much media attention was being given to overcrowded housing in Maningrida leading to high rates of Rheumatic Heart Disease, poor transitional housing in Minyerri and the legal action taken against the Government by residents of Santa Teresa over poor housing and the Government’s countersuit for rental debt. There was a lot going on in the housing space which besides from being interesting, made it feel like the work I was doing was helpful and urgent.
I was mainly working on research to contribute to APO NT’s position on a community housing model. I did research into Environmental Health and culturally-informed sustainable Housing design which included meeting with Environmental Health and Housing professionals. I had very little prior understanding of either of these topics but was able to use my skills in research and writing to produce work that was integrated into APO NT’s existing work. As well as this I was involved in drafting a letter to Government, preparing for an Aboriginal Housing NT meeting and seeking sponsorship. A highlight was being involved in the successful nomination of Aboriginal Housing NT for the NT Human Rights Award. I learned a lot along the way by listening, observing, reading and simply doing and managed to figure out how to go about my work by the end of my time at APO NT.
Darwin itself was amazing. It was a very dry wet season so we were able to benefit and get out to Litchfield and Kakadu which was a total highlight. A great place to live and meet amazing people.
APO NT is a strong, warm and welcoming work place where I certainly felt useful and appreciated. It was a real privilege to work in an Aboriginal controlled organisation and work with the people I did and on such a critical policy area. The internship has made me more seriously consider a career in policy and the Indigenous sector.