Savanna Bull

Aboriginal Legal Services
Winter 2019


I was lucky enough to complete a four week Aurora internship with the Aboriginal Legal Service (ALS) Care and Protection in Parramatta. Before commencing my placement, I was somewhat familiar with care and protection law, predominately from electives I had undertaken at university. From the courses I had completed at uni I had formed an understanding and a keen interest in the area. I was really excited when Aurora offered me ALS Parramatta as a placement. I was pleased at how well they were able to accommodate my interests and I felt the Aurora Internships team placed me in a perfect organisation.

I was very fortunate that both Aurora and the ALS were flexible in the days that I could do my internship. As I also had to work four days a week, I was concerned that I wouldn’t be able to complete a placement. However, I was able to do three days a week at the ALS, being able to choose the days that suited by schedule. Further, the ALS were great in accommodating me in terms of selecting tasks for me on my days that would enhance my learning and make the most out of my time there.

I live in Newcastle and was concerned beforehand that the travel would be quite strenuous. At first it was manageable as Parramatta is quite an easily accessible city to reach by public transport. However, towards the end of my internship I did start to feel the strain of travelling and the exhaustion associated with public transport, combined with also having to work at my job the other four days of the week. I would recommend where possible to source accommodation in the area of the internship (if money and work doesn’t restrict you as it did me!). I regret not getting to experience more of the city of Parramatta and experience the parts of it that would have come with staying in local accommodation.

My expectations of what I’d be doing as an intern at ALS was very different to what I got to do. I expected to mostly be doing a lot of observation. However, I was able to be given lot of tasks that allowed me to become familiar with care and protection law, the Courts, as well as the community organisations and services that are relevant to this area. Some of the tasks I completed included:

  • Going to the court to inspect subpoenas and reviewing and detailing relevant information that would assist our matters
  • Writing detailed chronologies whilst getting to learn the details of the matter and care and protection law
  • In depth research into relevant and culturally appropriate services and organisations to refer clients to 
  • Attending NAIDOC week events whilst getting to interact with community organisations and learn the types of services they offer
  • Research into Aboriginal Case Management Rules and Practice Guidance
  • Writing case summaries
  • Research into subpoena and conduct money
  • Going to the Children’s Court and observing matters
  • Sitting in on client meetings with solicitors
  • Completing checklists for closed matters

I felt in the allocation of tasks, I was given the perfect combination of independence and support to complete the assigned tasks. All of the staff genuinely wanted me to make the most out of my time there and would go out of their way to make sure my learning was accommodated. For example, in the times that I would go to Court with a solicitor, instead of waiting around in a room for the matter to be called, the solicitors would ask the Magistrate to grant leave to allow me to sit in the closed court and observe other matters.

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed my time at the ALS. All of the staff and other volunteers were so lovely and willing to help and support my tasks and my learning whenever possible. Since starting the internship my interest and knowledge in care and protection has grown greatly.  My time spent at ALS confirmed that I am in the right area and this is the type of work I am passionate about.

I highly recommend doing an internship with ALS and applying for Aurora program. The Aurora team do everything they can to place you in an organisation that suits your needs and interests and are available for further support if need be.