Sophie Dembski

Organisation: 
Stream: 
Legal
Sector: 
Barristers/Legal Firms
Location: 
Adelaide
Round: 
Summer 2015

As an intern from Adelaide who had previously interned in Darwin with the Aurora Internship Program, I must admit to some initial disappointment when I was first proposed for a placement in my own town. Thankfully, this feeling vanished very quickly on my first day at Campbell Law in the city; when I was challenged to write the entire history of the Kaurna people by the end of my internship. Challenge accepted (though only partly completed).

I soon came to view this major research project as more of a luxury than anything; when else do you get to just read and read, investigating the history of your own city and its people? I became ensconced at a desk surrounded  by an ever-increasing (and only slowly-decreasing) pile of books – and as a natural-born Ravenclaw-type, this was a far from a depressing picture. Yet as I scoured the books for relevant content, it was often difficult to battle through the colonial bias and often rather insulting language; and my posture rapidly declined as I became absorbed in books, or pressed my nose to the computer screen, straining to read tiny faded digitally-captured newspaper print. I gained rare insights into the thoughts – and the advertising - of the time, as I became very well acquainted with Trove online by the end of my placement (and I still cannot believe that newspapers dating back to the start of colonial SA are available online).

The more I learnt the more incredulous I grew that I did not already know this – I think that more of our shared history should be taught at schools (or if I had learnt any of it at school I have no memory of it). But I feel it is so necessary for all people to understand where we all came from, in sharing the stories both inspiring and frankly disgraceful.

I had the privilege of working with the wonderful staff of Campbell Law – and I have to thank them for putting up with me as I buried myself in books and information, sometimes emerging as an incoherent babbling mess spewing information and historical facts upon all and sundry.

In the end, I managed to pull on the threads of fact, story, dates and time to weave some sort of history from the sources I had managed to read, and though it is not complete, this work will continue to be expanded upon. 

In the end, there were no regrets whatsoever about completing my Aurora internship in Adelaide. I learnt so much about my home and all the people who have shared it. If you would like to learn similar lessons please apply for the next round of placements - applications are open in March and August of each year – see details at http://www.auroraproject.com.au/nativetitleinternshipprogram.