I spent six weeks at the organisation formerly known as Central Australian Aboriginal Legal Aid Service (CAALAS) in Alice Springs during summer 2018. This internship has been my most rewarding legal experience! I was exposed to great work in civil and criminal law and gained a deeper understanding of the issues in the Indigenous sector.
One of the highlights during my time with the civil law team was spending one week in Tennant Creek at a civil law clinic. The clinic is set up so individuals can drop-in and get advice on a variety of issues including employment law, public housing, medical negligence and consumer debt. I was able to communicate with and take instructions from clients, write briefs based on statute and case law research and draft Police complaints to the Ombudsman.
In the criminal law team, I attended bush court in two small Aboriginal communities – Ali Curung and Ti Tree. This form of court is held to assist people from very remote areas attend court. I was given invaluable experience at developing some advocacy skills by appearing in front of the judge to do adjournment request for clients of CAALAS. This was an incredible learning experience that I would not have gained in a typical law firm.
Another memorable experience whilst working in the criminal team was applying my legal research and writing skills by drafting court submissions for CAALAS’ General Counsel for an upcoming trial. I developed strong written communication skills by researching statue / cases and interpreting and analysing this information to prepare a brief. This task was intellectually stimulating and enabled me to gain knowledge in civil procedure and evidence law.
This was a great opportunity to practice fundamental legal skills that I have learnt in university, namely legislation / case research, interpretation and written communication. I found this task to be very intellectually stimulating and enabled me to further develop an understanding of the law in the Northern Territory as well as civil procedure / evidence law.
I would highly recommend undertaking a legal internship at CAALAS to anyone with an interest in the social justice issues faced by the Indigenous sector. All the staff at CAALAS are extremely friendly and greatly appreciate the work performed by Interns. You will have the opportunity to do hands-on work that makes a big difference to the community. For more information about applying for an Aurora Internship, go to www.auroraproject.com.au.