Carol Lacroix

Social Science
Social Welfare services
Summer 2014

The Aurora project provides internship opportunities to become involved in native title, policy, social justice and Indigenous affairs whilst providing additional resources to organisations in need of assistance.

In early 2014 I spent six weeks at the Wadeye Safe House as an Aurora intern. Wadeye (also known as ‘Port Keats’) is situated around 400 kilometres south west of Darwin. Home to around 3000 people, it is the largest remote Aboriginal community in the Northern Territory. The Safe House at Wadeye is a 24/7 facility established by the not-for profit organization Children's Services Support Unit (CSSU) INC. which provides emergency, short-term accommodation and support to women and children experiencing domestic and family violence.

During my time at the Safe House I was involved in the day-to-day management and activities of the facility under the direction of the Safe House manager. This included working closely with refuge staff and clients with respect to case management and the development of safety plans, counseling and record management, as well as cleaning, cooking, and providing transport and other forms of practical support that are central to the operation of the Safe House and the capacity of people in the community. I also spent time liaising with stakeholders from government and non-government organisations whose aims and services are intertwined with those of the Safe House; these include child protection services, health and education facilities, federal and territory government agencies, and TRAAC, the local Aboriginal Corporation.

The Safe House manager and staff were welcoming and supportive throughout. A work plan was available that identified a range of opportunities, including policy analysis and grant applications, and provided a sense of direction and coherence. Additional highlights of the internship included trips around town and into surrounding country with traditional owners and families, and the chance to explore some local language (Murrinhpatha).

The internship experience was overwhelmingly positive. Besides an awareness of the function of the Safe House and the socio-cultural context in which it operates, it provided the opportunity to gain valuable insight into the complexity of the issues facing people in this community – local people, service providers and visitors – and of the range of attempts to find effective solutions in very special circumstances. I recommend that anyone who is interested in an opportunity of this kind should explore the Aurora website and apply for the upcoming summer 2014/15 round (online at  Applications will be open from 4ththrough 28thAugust.