Stephanie Schweiger

Summer 2014

American cultural anthropologist, Margaret Mead once wrote to 'never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has.' The small team lead by Rachelle Towart at the Australian Indigenous Leadership Centre (AILC) is that exact group of thoughtful, committed citizens changing the world. AILC delivers leadership courses to Indigenous Australians to Close the Gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians. It’s a formidable task and the Centre operates in a difficult space: it received Government grants in the past and has  recently received its first ever multi-year Commonwealth Government grant.

As an Aurora intern via the Aurora Native Title Internship Program this past summer, my five weeks were roughly split between tasks that support the training part of the organisation and larger policy tasks. As the AILC is the only nationally accredited provider of Indigenous leadership programs, my work in supporting this part of the Centre aimed to keep this status. One aspect involved creating and updating trainer matrixes. The other half of my internship was occupied by larger policy tasks. I’d never worked in a policy space prior to this internship but the scope and depth of issues made for challenging work. This was especially the case as AILC was transforming the way it delivers its leadership courses: instead of delivering courses to individuals, the team is now heading out bush to communities throughout Australia to deliver leadership courses. It is with this aim and in this context that I wrote a funding grant to a local council in Brisbane to deliver a leadership course targeted at the Indigenous youth in that community. In brainstorming AILC’s next strategic plan I read about Ian Trust, Noel Pearson, Marcia Langton, Patrick Dodson and Willie Hensley to see how the Alaska Natives are faring in Alaska.

Every internship has its quiet days. On mine I sent out hundreds of letters about a new course in Business Governance the AILC is running to Members of Parliaments and Senators throughout Australia. I spent a fair few lunch breaks watching documentaries about Reconciliation and National Sorry Day. The rest were spent dodging snakes out in the scorching Canberra summer or eating hot chips with my colleagues.

I highly recommend the Aurora Native Title Internship Program and the AILC to law students and graduates with a passion for social justice, a high level of cultural awareness and humility. My colleagues at AILC are an incredible bunch of intelligent, warm human beings and fearless advocates. It for my time with them that I am grateful and committed to contributing to the sector.

More information about the Program is available at: