Caleb Mattiske

Social Science
Government bodies
Winter 2018

For five weeks over June – July I was privileged to undertake an Aurora internship with the Northern Territory Government’s Aboriginal Justice Unit, which operates under the Department of Attorney-General and Justice. The experience has been one of the most insightful and rewarding of my entire time at university.

The Aboriginal Justice Unit was established in 2017 for the task of developing the Northern Territory’s first Aboriginal Justice Agreement. Within the Northern Territory, and indeed across Australia, the state of Aboriginal overrepresentation in the criminal justice system perhaps most starkly depicts the extent of the disadvantage facing Aboriginal Australians. The Aboriginal Justice Agreement represents a radical new approach to turn this situation around.

Over the course of my internship I took on many different roles – there was never a shortage of interesting tasks. I completed a wide range of project and administrative support activities to assist the team including writing and editing high-level government documentation, engaging with government and NGO stakeholders, and assisting others in the Unit to carry out a whole range of tasks.

One of the key highlights was the opportunity to travel to a few remote communities in the Central Desert Region to attend consultations. Here I got to see and hear first-hand the struggles that Aboriginal Territorians have in accessing and navigating the criminal justice system, but more than this, the leadership that communities are taking to make change.

Prior to applying for the internship through Aurora, I had a very limited understanding of the work being carried out across Australia to address these issues in the criminal justice and legal space. My university majors were in Geography and International Business and for this reason it was somewhat daunting approaching my internship having no idea what I would be in for. However, these worries were quickly alleviated, working with a highly competent team who were always ready to assist, and provided time to teach me the ropes whenever it was needed. Additionally, while my background experience was quite different from the content of my work, I quickly found that the broad skillsets I had developed throughout university were largely transferable and really helped me to make the most of the experience.

I think this is what is so incredible about the Aurora Internship Program; it provides the opportunity to gain exposure to learning experiences, engage in work environments and interact with professionals that you may have never otherwise encountered. Upon completion of my role, I was even offered a three-month contract, which I gladly accepted, and am now living and working in beautiful Darwin. Who would have thought? Not me!

I could not recommend applying for the Program enough. If you want to find out a bit more about some of the incredible work that is going on around Australia in the Indigenous sector, don’t die wondering! Apply for the Aurora Internship Program, and it might just change the trajectory of your career.

For more information about the Aurora Project, and how to apply for the internship program visit  Applications for internships are open in March and August of each year.