Clare Smylie

Summer 2019


As a 3rd year university student who is passionate about the field of anthropology, I felt lost regarding what career pathways or further study I could take that would incorporate what I had been learning. Upon discussing this with my university lecturer, I was introduced to the Aurora Internship Program and the broad spectrum of placements and areas of study that it offers to students across Australia.

What really stood out to me about the Internship Program was its values-based approach to providing both a positive and enriching experience for both the students and the organisations involved with the program. The application process itself I found really rewarding as it made me reflect on what I want out of the experience as well as what are my limitations and how does an internship help me challenge these limitations as well as build on my current skills.

I was selected to complete a five-week placement with the Australian Literacy and Numeracy Foundation (ALNF) in Edgecliff, NSW within the Anthropology sector. ALNF is a non-for-profit organisation that aims to boost the literacy and numeracy of individuals across Australian both young and old. They conduct and incorporate a variety of programs to boost not only English literacy but First Languages of Australia.

Before I began my placement, I was aware not to set my expectations of the kind of work I would be involved in too high, however, my experience was beyond any expectations I could ever think of.

Whilst at ALNF I worked on the ‘Living First languages’ program which was an online and interactive platform that sought to not only document a variety of First Languages within Australia but also to encourage the use and development of the language within community and across different contexts (i.e. the classroom).

I was involved in various aspects of this platform from conversations regarding design and new functions, research on available resources that are currently available on particular First Languages (I specifically looked at the Torres Strait dialect, Erub of Erub Island [Darnley Island]), as well as creating user guides for future users to refer to when learning how to use and navigate through the program.

Creating user course guides was the main focus of my work, during my five weeks I created numerous course guides to suit the 3 main types of users: readers, editors and administrators. The course guides were not only to help minimise gaps in digital literacy and provide guidance on how to navigate the application, they were also a tool to demonstrate that regardless of a user’s authority type, the platform created an inclusive and interactive experience for all users.

Working with ALNF I was able to be a bystander in understanding culturally sensitive, competent and safe work practice when working with community. Being of Anglo background it was an invaluable experience in understanding an organisations place when working with sensitive issues such as First Languages. I also was able to experience how the field of Anthropology fits into working in Indigenous affairs, where it has previously been a study that creates tension due to its past intrusive and damaging practices.

I can not recommend the Aurora Internship Program enough, the ethics and values of the foundation translate throughout the whole experience, from friendly advisors, to constant support and mingling events. If you are remotely interested in working with Indigenous Affairs or are struggling to see where your degree or study can take you, the Internship Program is an opportunity like no other. I can not thank the team at ALNF and Aurora enough for this amazing opportunity.