I reached the end of my degree in Development Studies and International Relations, and, like many students in these disciplines, felt a bit lost as to what was next. I knew I wanted to get some experience in the development field that would point in me some kind of direction, and that I wanted to explore a bit more of Australia. Aurora gave me both of these opportunities, and more. I am so glad I applied for an Aurora internship, so glad I went for Alice Springs, and so glad it was with Ninti One. I could not have asked for a better experience.
I was born in Alice, however we left when I was little so apart from the odd visit, it was a distant, warm, memory. I really wanted to come back and see what my parents had loved about it, and experience it for myself. Mum was the first of many people to warn me that I wouldn’t want to leave. She, and everyone else, was right. Arriving, it felt exciting and fresh, and old and familiar all at once. The country is breath-taking and dotted with Arrernte sacred sites that tell of thousands of years of history, so you never forget where you are whether you’re in town at a bar, or swimming in a waterhole in the MacDonnell Ranges. The people are an eclectic melting pot of cultures, so Alice has all the best elements of intercultural interaction, but also some of the most challenging. It somehow balances social issues and divisions with a strong a community feel; you can’t help but be sucked in and attempt to keep up with the constant calendar of fun and bizarre community events taking place. I can’t recommend Alice as a place to live more. That’s why I’ve stayed three months already, and am planning the big move next year.
For my internship I was placed with Ninti One, a small social research organisation that works on community development projects in remote communities around Alice and across the NT. Ninti is all about ground-up research and development that genuinely engages with Aboriginal peoples. Reflecting this is their approach to research, a great initiative in which they train and employ local people throughout the NT as Aboriginal Community Researchers to work and liaise with their community. I have had the pleasure of working with and learning from various ACRs in my time at Ninti, both in the office and on various trips out bush.
I was thrown right into it for my internship, not treated as an intern but part of the team. I was given support from the passionate, welcoming team, but also entrusted with responsibility, interesting projects and going out bush for work almost straight away. During my time at Ninti, I have done a variety of tasks that expanded my skill-set and confidence, from desktop research and writing case studies, to conducting face-to-face interviews and assisting with yarning circles with community members, attending and taking minutes for focus groups, learning about structures and networks in communities, and gathering data through surveying various community members from across the NT about health and infrastructure in remote communities.
I was lucky enough to go out bush multiple times, and visit various remote communities to chat to locals about their community and gain their perspectives as part of qualitative and quantitative research. This was a really great and eye-opening experience, as I got to see how this kind of research happens on the ground, as well as gain a glimpse into life in remote communities and what its like to work in them, and how important it is to be flexible and culturally sensitive. The country is so beautiful, I met so many amazing people, and I got some 4WD lessons along the way. My internship gave me so much experience and contextualised a lot of my knowledge from uni, and took it a whole lot further. I realised how much more there is to learn, and my experiences have inspired me to do so. I now know this is the field I would like to continue to work in, and highly recommend giving it a go.
Applications to the Aurora Internship Program are open twice a year and more information can be found by visiting: http://auroraproject.com.au/internship-program. Applications for the winter 2018 round will be open from 5 through 30 March 2018.