Caleb Rivers

Organisation: 
Stream: 
Health Science
Sector: 
Health/Medical Services
Location: 
Perth
Round: 
Winter 2018

I decided at the start of this year that I would become more proactive in my own individual development. For the past few years as a uni student, I had watched as others were given great opportunities and promoted the various organisations that they had been involved with. I have always been hesitant in associating my name with anything, and as a result, I had missed out on a lot of these opportunities. At the start of this year, I decided that I would apply for scholarships, internships, and other incentives of this nature to further myself and position myself to gain new skills and knowledge.

 I remember sitting at my computer in May, studying lectures, when my friend who is studying Archaeology, dropped a flyer on my desk and told me I should apply. I read the piece of paper which had Aurora Internship Program written in big letters across the top. I immediately searched for my usual excuses, this one being that it was only for social science students. He quickly assured me that there were availabilities for health science students as well. I quickly recalled the pledge I had made to myself - to take opportunities, and this one was literally handed to me. So I filled out the necessary forms, and waited without much anticipation, as I was sure I wouldn’t be selected.

During this period, I became aware of some of the students I knew who had undertaken Aurora internship or scholarships. I have a high opinion of each of these students as people, and suddenly realised the magnitude of what I had just applied for. I spent the next few weeks reading up on Aurora, and became aware of them as an organisation.

Eventually I was informed by the Aurora Internships Team that I had been placed at the Aboriginal Health Council of Western Australia (AHCWA). I had always harboured an interest in Indigenous health, purely due to my heritage and gender - my identity as an Indigenous male means that I am a member of one of the most maligned social demographics in contemporary Australia. I had always wanted to contribute to my community, but knew nothing of organisational structures, logistics, or anything of the terminology that characterized it. In short, I knew nothing.

My approach to working at AHCWA was to show up on time every day, with a good attitude. My father had taught me to use this approach in my life, in addition to always be teachable. So armed solely with this knowledge I set off for AHCWA on the 25th of June. To my surprise, I walked in the front doors and met an Indigenous lady named Kerry, who informed me that she was also an Aurora intern. Further to this, I went to uni with her children, so there was an immediate rapport built the moment I walked into AHCWA.

I was then surprised to learn that a manager I had worked for at a previous job, and another worker from that same office were also employed there. I was quite nervous at first, as most people are at a new place of employment. I was quite fortunate that the morning I had arrived, there was a general staff meeting, and so I was promptly introduced to the whole workplace (a bit like ripping off a band aid). There were inductions to different systems and procedures throughout the first few days, and I found the whole of the staff to be as accommodating as any new employee could have wished for. I remarked to a fellow employee today, that I have never felt uncomfortable, or pressured at any time throughout my time with AHCWA.

Back to my internship though, I was placed with the family well-being program that is facilitated through AHCWA, and headed by project manager Ken Nicholls (who is also Indigenous). I was responsible for drafting a training module that would be culturally appropriate in its delivery to member services throughout Western Australia. I had a great experience spending three weeks working on this, and was able to help at NAIDOC week during one of my weeks of placement. The internship was such a wonderful experience, and I was very grateful to both Aurora, and AHCWA for accommodating me with this request. I thought I had gained some really understanding at the completion of my internship, however, there was a lot more to come.

I was offered a brief contract to work with AHCWA as part of the Tackling Indigenous Smoking team. I was only too keen to accept their kind offer, and found myself back at AHCWA two weeks later as an employee. This period has been an incredible time of growth for me as a future professional in the health field. I have really begun to understand how it works now, during my second stint. Although I’m only a novice to this type of work, I understand that the different teams run programs, and we have procedures and planning to reach our objectives, such as community visits of which I have been all too keen to be a part of.

I have also realised that I already possess many skills needed to perform satisfactorily in the workplace, such as communication skills, and an ability to connect with Indigenous clients and organisations. This has given me great confidence in my ability to be a member of a workplace associated with Indigenous health. I am well aware that there is more that I don’t know compared to what I do, but I have confidence that I belong in this type of work(place), and I believe that I have the ability to learn from those around me with the experience to draw from. I remember on my first day of employment, reading about performance reviews of an employees work. I set my mind there and then, that I would ensure that I would always receive favourable reviews, and be an asset to those who had given me an opportunity.

I will always be grateful to Aurora (www.auroraproject.com.au) and AHCWA for providing me with this platform which has benefitted me more than they will probably ever know. Based on this alone, I would be proud to promote either organisation in any capacity available to me.

Applications for the winter 2019 round of Aurora internships will open in March 2019 at https://auroraproject.com.au/about-applying-internship