Joseph Cook

Social Science
Community Development/Ranger Programs
Alice Springs
Summer 2018

I wish to acknowledge the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin Nation as the traditional owners of the land where I live. I pay my respects to elders past and present.
My interest in Aboriginal Affairs began several years ago, and I have spent the intervening period seeking out learning opportunities wherever possible within the sector and within my community. My internship with Ninti One has undoubtedly been the most significant and insightful experience I have had thus far within this space; I learnt a great deal about many facets of the sector, while also developing my personal and professional skills.
Upon arrival in Alice and at Ninti One I was initially overcome by feelings of apprehension, but this soon gave way to a general feeling of eagerness and excitement about the work I was involved in. I was chiefly involved with the Stronger Communities for Children program, which presents an empowering and community-driven approach to policy within the historically paternalistic context of policymaking in the sector. On a day-to-day basis my main tasks included resource development, logistics, and research regarding many areas relating to the work of Ninti One, such as collective impact and collaborative practice.
Ninti was a warm and welcoming place to intern, and staff were incredibly generous with their willingness to share their knowledge and experiences. Some of my most important learning and development came from informal conversations with staff. I was extremely fortunate to be able to accompany two Aboriginal Community Researchers out to four different community sites in the Northern Territory, including two communities on the northern coast that we visited as part of a week-long trip up to Australia’s tropical north. This trip in particular was the most memorable and the most profound experience of my trip, as it gave me a first-person insight into the work being done within two distinct Aboriginal communities, and the issues therein. These experiences helped to give me a more rounded contextual understanding of the work being done by Ninti One and by other organisations more generally.
Alice Springs has an indelible charm that will stick with you once you leave. There is something about the town and the people that leaves you with a perpetual feeling of wanting to return. There are many gorges, mountains and parks for interns to explore on weekends, and plenty of other things to see and do.

My Internship with Ninti One helped to give a more practical backing to much of the theoretical work I have done at University. My time in Alice was an education in how much there is to learn and the complexity of some of the work being done within the sector. I would recommend an Internship at Ninti One for anyone wishing to contextualise and develop their knowledge within the Aboriginal sector.