Georgia Alexander

Summer 2017

When the call for applications for summer placements with the Aurora Internship Program once again came up at the end of last year, I jumped at the opportunity.

The Aurora Project is an organisation that provides essential support to Indigenous sector organisations that are often underfunded, understaffed, and in need of assistance.  It was established in 2006 after a research report highlighted the difficulties Indigenous organisations experience in hiring and retaining skilled staff. 

The Aurora Internship Program aims to relieve the burden on these under-resourced organisations, both in the short term via placements, and in the long term by introducing students and graduates to career opportunities in the Indigenous sector.

I was offered a seven-week placement with the Australian Indigenous Governance Institute (AIGI), based in Canberra. AIGI is a policy-based organisation, which assists Indigenous organisations to practise strong self-governance, with the goal of helping them to achieve self-determination. 

My internship with AIGI involved the organisation of the ‘Common Roots, Common Futures’ International Indigenous Governance Conference, and an Indigenous Data Sovereignty and Governance Masterclass, both held in Brisbane.  Through the coordination of these events, I familiarised myself with national and international Indigenous organisations, and had the opportunity to meet Indigenous people from not just Australia, but New Zealand, Canada and the United States as well.  Most importantly, I learned first-hand about the struggles that Indigenous communities face in realising self-determination. 

The benefit of the conference being limited to 40 people meant that a more intimate setting could be formed whereby delegates could confidently share their successes and failures in Indigenous governance. Hearing about the challenges that contemporary Indigenous communities face from such distinguished guests was a profound experience, and having this heightened awareness of their plight will assist me as I make the transition from student to employee in the Indigenous sector.

During my Aurora internship I gained valuable skills and knowledge.  In particular, I was able to develop my event and time management skills, as well as demonstrate my ability to work in an intercultural environment. These will no doubt aid me in future employment situations. 

My advice to future interns is to go into the Program without expectations and assist the organisation you’re placed with in any capacity possible.