Adrianna Poutsma

Social Science
Winter 2015

NAILSMA is a not-for-profit organisation that runs projects to support and enhance Indigenous land and sea management practices, in addition to many other cultural and economic practices. They are located in Darwin (with an office at Charles Darwin University) and service Indigenous communities all over the top end of north Australia, including NT, WA and QLD. They collaborate with a range of different organisations in the region (government and non-government) and the projects they do change with the availability of donors, funding and regional project goals. 

During my internship with NAILSMA via the Aurora Internship Program, some of the projects that were running included carbon farming, a Higher Education Participation and Partnerships Program' (HEPPP), and the National Environmental Research Program (NERP). 

About the work I did 

During my internship a significant amount of the work I did was for carbon farming projects. NAILSMA develop educational materials and resources and go onto country to help Indigenous communities engage in carbon farming projects. Carbon farming projects are when land managers earn carbon credits through land practices that sequest and/or abate greenhouse gas emissions (e.g. planting trees or reducing the size and frequency of wildfires). I edited several of the educational materials so they were up-to-date with the latest policy changes (e.g. the Emissions Reduction Fund). I also did some research for a report investigating the feasibility of savanna burning projects in the lower rainfall regions. 

Other activities I did outside of the carbon farming projects included analysing the recently released white paper on ‘Developing Northern Australia’. Researching some of the higher education options available to individuals from remote communities. Accompanying a supervisor to the Territory Natural Resource Management Top End Forum on strategic management. Attending a community rally with my colleagues to show our support for the continuation of funding to Indigenous communities. Editing a literature review on community ‘resilience’ in north Australia and proof reading a guide on setting up a horticulture business. 

Recreational activities  

The weather in north Australia during winter is incredible at 30 degrees, low humidity and clear blue skies every single day. All the national parks are open and I along with other Aurora interns took full advantage of all the natural wonders to see and the crystal clear waterholes to swim in. Must see parks include Litchfield National Park, Berry Springs, Kakadu and Katherine George.  There were also plenty of cultural activities on this time of year including the Beer-can Regatta, Darwin Rodeo and Darwin and Katherine shows. I was able to get a glimpse into Indigenous culture (untainted by touristy attractions) at a cultural and arts festival in the Beswick community. My work colleagues were incredibly friendly and helpful, and there was a great network of interns to explore with on the weekends. The locals area exceptionally friendly, and Darwin is surprisingly multicultural. 

Career advantages 

Going on a 6 week internship through Aurora to an organisation located in Darwin was a highlight of my university experience, a real game changer when considering future career directions and establishing professional networks. I cannot recommend it highly enough and encourage anyone with an interest in Indigenous issues and a degree background in law, anthropology or social sciences (including environmental management) to apply. No matter what organisation you are placed at or where in Australia you are located, you will undoubtedly gain an insight into Indigenous culture and life that will alter your perception of Australia.

For more information please go to: Applications are open in March and August each year on-line via the Aurora website. ​