Alison Ross

Social Science
Summer 2013

Canberra, Government, Politics. Three words that go together automatically for most Australians. When I think of Canberra the connotations are much more specific to my personal experience. Indigenous issues, native title, policy, research. The Aurora Project's Native Title Internship Program is the most career related work experience that I've had to date. I was very fortunate to gain a second Aurora internship and therefore was able to compare my experience in Canberra to that of Kununurra, WA.

My interest in this area stems not from law or anthropology, but from an Indigenous Studies perspective. This is a critical perspective from which a policy/community development focus arises. The most exciting element of my internship at the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies (AIATSIS) was the support for continuous knowledge development in the form of daily seminars or meetings I attended either at the Institute or nearby at Australian National University. This meant that I was intellectually stimulated each and every day of my internship, and I believe that this aspect is unique to the internship program of the Aurora Project.

In addition to my AIATSIS experience, I gained a second Aurora internship at Miriuwung Gajerrong (MG) Corporation in Kununurra, WA. My role in this organisation was to support the in house lawyer. I managed a significant number of future acts, convening meetings with traditional owners, presenting board submissions to senior committee members and conducting heritage land clearances. This was a completely different experience to AIATSIS and definitely one I enjoyed more. There is something really captivating about working at the forefront of the community. Where the issues manifest themselves neither on a computer screen nor in an academic journal, but with the people of the community.      

So if you have an interest in Indigenous affairs and would like to contribute to the publications and research being conducted around these issues. Or perhaps you are like me and prefer to work on the ground with the people who are actually affected by the decisions made in places like Canberra. Either way the internships have contributed to the commencement of my career in Aboriginal organisations, because as a result I am now a full time employee of MG Corporation.  I strongly urge anyone who is interested to apply for the Aurora Project's native title internship program.

There are both summer and winter internship rounds, visit their website for more details.