Josephine Chu

Organisation: 
Stream: 
Social Science
Sector: 
Social Welfare services
Location: 
Wadeye
Round: 
Summer 2016

When I applied for the Aurora Internship Program, I never expected to be offered an internship in a remote Aboriginal community in the Northern Territory. I was placed in Wadeye, a community of 3,000 people located southwest of Darwin on Kardu Diminin land. The roads around Wadeye are cut off during the wet season, leaving the community accessible only by plane or boat for five months of the year. The community has a reputation for being quite volatile due to ongoing tensions between the 22 clan groups, but I was assured I’d be safe so I gave into my curiosity and embraced the opportunity of a lifetime. 

My internship was with the Wadeye Safe House, which is run by One Tree Community Services. The Safe House provides crisis support and accommodation for women and children suffering from domestic violence. The Safe House operates 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, and is the only service of its kind in the community. I was honoured to be given the opportunity to intern with an organisation that does much-needed work with the people of Wadeye. 

It was a privilege to work alongside such committed staff, both local and non-local. Their patience, kindness, and perseverance were unwavering, despite the challenging conditions under which they work and the extreme situations they address on a daily basis. I was happy to help the very busy service in any way I could, as the work is constant and unrelenting. I assisted in the day-to-day running of the Safe House, working closely with the clinic, police, and night patrol to ensure the safety of our clients. I attended child protection and interagency meetings, where I experienced how various service providers collaborate to benefit people in the community. I worked with local staff to plant a vegetable garden to help them become more sustainable and independent. I facilitated sessions for the ‘Young Women’s Group’, which aims to empower adolescent girls and provide a safe place to discuss complex issues prevalent in Wadeye, such as women’s health, substance abuse and domestic violence. I also helped families with application processes to increase their educational opportunities. 

Every day I was constantly learning, seeing and experiencing things I’d have never imagined. This internship challenged me mentally, physically and emotionally, and I have grown as a result. I loved talking story with the local women and twice was given the privilege of being taken out to country. I learnt so much about the local culture, the value of family and the importance of taking care of the land. I have great respect for the people I met and am grateful for the warmth they showed me. 

This has been one of the most challenging and confronting experiences of my life, but also one of the most fulfilling and rewarding. I would highly encourage anyone interested in the Aurora Internship Program to apply in the upcoming round.

Online applications for the upcoming winter 2016 round of Aurora internships open from Monday 7th March through Friday 1st April 2016. To find out more about the Program, visit the Aurora website at www.auroraproject.com.au/nativetitleinternshipprogram.​