As the plane descended into Alice Springs, I could not keep the smile off my face. The rustic red and green land below was in stark contrast to the rich greens and blues I had just left behind in Melbourne. In the car I marvelled at the ancient MacDonnell Ranges, and the hawk circling above in the clear blue sky. As my housemate drove me through Alice Springs, I knew that I would have no problem making this place my home for the next six weeks.
My Aurora internship with Ninti One was a truly rewarding experience. The organisation provided many opportunities for me and the other interns. The highlight of the internship for me was accompanying one of Ninti One’s Aboriginal Community Researchers (ACRs) into three Aboriginal communities. Over four days we visited Yuendumu, Yuelamu, and Nyirripi. This trip was an eye-opening and at times challenging experience, but extremely rewarding. I felt privileged to be there and to be having engaging conversations with the people who lived there.
Each day of the internship I was building my understanding of Aboriginal culture and knowledge, specific challenges faced by Aboriginal communities, and the types of initiatives that are introduced and run in communities. The tasks I completed for Ninti One ranged from administrative in nature through to significant research projects. I felt that the tasks I was assigned added value – from thinking up ways to implement new processes, to writing a marketing document, to co-authoring a literature review on respite care with another intern.
Reflecting on my experiences, the internship itself was only a part of my learning experience during those six weeks. Through the network of people I met and made friends with, I gained huge insight into Aboriginal culture, rights, and the types of systemic issues faced by Aboriginal people. My friends and housemates included anthropologists, teachers, social workers, health professionals, and public servants. I learnt about the impact of home-life on school participation; the way land rights are negotiated between Traditional Owners and mining companies; and government projects implemented in Aboriginal communities.
Finally, the Northern Territory experience was downright fun. In those six weeks I conquered my fear of sleeping in a swag, I hiked up a mountain in the dark to watch the sunrise, I met Brolga and his kangaroos at the Kangaroo Sanctuary, I went winter swimming in a gorge, and I watched the sun set over Uluru.
Since my first year of law school, I had my sights set on an Aurora internship. Three years later I am extremely happy to have been given the opportunity to intern with Ninti One. I would highly recommend an Aurora internship at Ninti One in Alice Springs.
Applications for the Aurora Internship Program are open over each summer and winter per year, and more information can be found by visiting: http://auroraproject.com.au/internship-program. Applications for the winter 2017 round will be open in March 2017.