Tabitha Yeo

Social Science
Winter 2016

Travelling from Melbourne (where I am currently attending university) to Darwin and interning at NAILSMA for four weeks through the Aurora Internship Program was a truly awesome experience overall. NAILSMA is a not-for-profit organisation that coordinates a range of projects and programs used to assist Indigenous land and sea management practices, as well as Indigenous communities, culture, education and economy more broadly. NAILSMA services the ‘top end’ of Australia which covers parts of WA, the NT and QLD.

I did a variety of jobs whilst at NAILSMA – both in the office and out bush. I found work at NAILSMA both intellectually and culturally informative – it really enabled me to broaden my interests in topics such as environmental management, Indigenous and multicultural affairs. In the office my tasks centred around producing ‘e-news’ articles to be published online by NAILSMA on their website about recent/current affairs, or events that NAILSMA has been involved with. For instance, a report on the Ganalanga-Mindibirrina Indigenous Protected Area (IPA) celebration which we witnessed and supported, and a report on the Kenbi and Yarralin land handbacks. One highlight of working in the office for me was being invited to attend a 1.5 day forum at Charles Darwin University about creating an Indigenous-focused alternative white paper on developing Northern Australia in book form (with an expected completion date of mid-2017), of which NAILSMA is helping to write.

Another personal highlight of my NAILSMA experience was travelling on the road for six days to attend the official Ganalanga-Mindibirrina Indigenous Protected Area (IPA) proclamation celebration held at Wallace Creek which is south-east from Darwin and very close to the Queensland border. This was my first visit ever to ‘country’, where I got to meet several Traditional Owners of two remote Indigenous communities, and was invited to join Waanyi and Garawa women and girls in doing a ceremonial dance as part of the IPA declaration. I felt really privileged to have been able to be on country with a landscape that is so rich in its biodiversity, and welcomed by the Waanyi and Garawa peoples – the traditional custodians of the land, even if it was for just a few days.

Apart from getting a taste of what full-time work would be like, travelling to the Northern Territory for an internship provided many opportunities for exploring a very different part of Australia compared to down south (where I’m based at) during the weekend or after work. Myself and two other NAILSMA interns who were also placed through the Aurora Project really enjoyed organising and doing activities together such as camping overnight in Litchfield National Park, attending NAIDOC week lectures and forums, visiting Darwin’s markets – Mindil Beach, Parap and Rapid Creek are a ‘must-see’, the botanical gardens, and the local op-shops.

All in all, I would greatly encourage all current university students or graduates with a background in the social sciences, and interests in Indigenous culture and affairs, or social justice more generally, to apply for an internship through the Aurora Internship Program. I have learnt and seen so much in the space of four weeks, and I genuinely feel very lucky to have been placed with NAILSMA who have been so friendly and caring towards myself and the two other Winter 2016 interns. 

Applications for summer 2016/17 internships through the Aurora Internship Program will be open from August 1 through August 26 2016. For more information, please visit: