The Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies (AIATSIS) is a statutory body and a world renowned research, collection and publishing organisation. I was placed as an Aurora Commonwealth Indigenous funded intern in the Native Title Research Unit (NTRU), which was created out of a recognised need to enable potential native title claimants to research and access the AIATSIS collection following the recognition of native title 25 years ago. The role of the NTRU has expanded over time, playing a central role in maximising the recognition of native title through policy and law reform, the provision of information and actively addressing issues native title holders face.
Within the NTRU, I was tasked with completing a literature review into youth engagement in native title. This offered me the opportunity to learn more about a broad range of issues, ranging from Indigenous governance in Australia and internationally, the engagement of young Indigenous people in the governance process, to the ways in which cultural knowledge is shared between generations in Indigenous cultures. While at AIATSIS, I also completed case summaries, edited publications, attended meetings and transcribed part of an ethics workshop. The work I completed while at AIATSIS was fascinating and allowed me to develop skills that I will continue to use in my degree and into my future in the workplace. As an intern, I was made to feel that my work was valued by the NTRU, and that I played an important role at AIATSIS for the short period I was there.
My internship experience was characterised by support, which played a major role in the success and in the positive experience I ultimately experienced. From the beginning of the application process for the Aurora Internship Program, I was supported by the Aurora Internships team, who ensured by way of the funding offered, that I was able to travel to Canberra, that I had accommodation, and that I was prepared to begin working at AIATSIS. At AIATSIS, my colleagues were welcoming and kind, and only too happy to offer me help and advice when I needed it. One of the features of my time at AIATSIS were the daily lunchtime quizzes. While I lacked a lot of the general knowledge needed for most of the answers, it was still a highlight of my day to join my colleagues in the kitchen to puzzle our way through the quiz.
My time at AIATSIS taught me a lot about native title and the importance of continued advocacy and research in a very complicated and often controversial area of work. I would recommend that anyone consider AIATSIS and native title more generally as an area worth learning more about. The Aurora Internship Program offers internships in a range of organisations in the native title and broader Indigenous sector: http://auroraproject.com.au/about-internship-program. Applications for the summer 2018/19 round are currently open and will close at 5pm on Friday the 31st of August.