During the Winter of 2017 I was given the opportunity to undertake an Aurora Internship with the Centre for Aboriginal Economic Research Policy (CAEPR) at ANU. The Aurora Internship Program places students and graduates in a wide range of Indigenous focused organisations across Australia, in anthropology, legal and social science streams. While most internships are taken full time, I was able to work 2 days a week at CAEPR for 13 weeks instead, to be able to continue working and studying as well.
My experience at CAEPR was very positive. I was placed in the “Seachange: Aboriginal marine pathways to social inclusion (2015-2018)” project, focusing on natural and cultural resource management by local Indigenous rangers on the South Coast. Some of the work I undertook was research and writing based, for example I wrote a progress report on the work completed before I commenced with the project, and updated it as more progress was made. I also drafted a literature review on the use of Cybertracker in projects similar to Seachange, where recording of cultural values was a large focus for the researchers. However, I was lucky enough in my internship to be able to utilise my skills in geographic information systems as well, creating maps using ArcGIS for the rangers to use with Cybertracker that showed additional information to the standard Google Earth, such as the Batemans Bay Marine Protected Areas, and the boundaries of the Local Aboriginal Land Councils in the Eurobodalla Region. This was very engaging and challenging work as locating datasets, manipulating and overlaying them to create meaningful maps was a skill that neither of my supervisors had, and thus meant that the work I was doing for the project was unique and useful. Further, I had to learn how to use the Cybertracker software which developed my problem solving skills. I had to troubleshoot as issues arose, and write sections for the ranger’s instruction manual as I found ways to create the recording sequences we wanted.
In addition to work in Canberra, I was able to join my supervisors for two trips to the Mogo Local Aboriginal Land Council to work with the Mogo and Batemans Bay rangers on the Seachange project. This was incredibly valuable for me to understand how positive partnerships between research organisations and Indigenous groups can occur and provided me with a lot of experience to reflect upon the complexities of university driven research and Indigenous driven research.
Overall, at CAEPR my skills and knowledge were respected and utilised. I was encouraged and supported to expand my skillset (I had never written a literature review before) and given opportunities to contribute to an exciting project that has a real world application. CAEPR itself was an interesting and vibrant research hub where I was able to hear about the different work occurring around me and I was treated as an equal to the other academics and professional staff. I would highly recommend undertaking an Aurora Internship and working at CAEPR as it provided me with a wealth of experience that I would not have been able to gain through university studies.
For more information on Aurora Internships visithttp://auroraproject.com.au/internship-program. Applications for the winter 2018 round will be open from 5 through 30 March 2018.