When I was first asked to draft a list of placement priorities for my Aurora Internship, I placed the National Centre of Indigenous Excellence (NCIE) at the top of my list. From researching Australia’s Indigenous social policy at university, I was discouraged by the lack of innovation or originality. However, the NCIE’s approach seemed fundamentally different.
My first introduction to this approach came through the NCIE’s CEO, Jason Glanville’s talk on ‘Indigenous Innovation’. Rather than simply restating what Jason said, I think it’s far more important to look at the language Jason uses,
These terms have too often been missing or drowned out from the discussion of Australia’s Indigenous policies. By deliberately re-shaping this dialogue, the NCIE tells stories of Indigenous triumph and success.
This does not mean the past has been forgotten. Rather, the antiquated narrative of disadvantage that unfairly envelopes Australia’s Indigenous history is transformed. Through this transformation, the NCIE celebrates the untold story of resilient and excellent Indigenous Australians. Being part of an organisation which develops this narrative has been a great experience.
Before my placement began I had just completed a 6 week internship at NSW State Parliament. Needless to say, the transition from State Government to a non-profit organisation was a colossal shift. However, the change came naturally and was helped along by the NCIE’s staff who went out of their way to make me feel welcome. I cannot express how thankful I am to them in making my time at the NCIE meaningful.
A highlight of my time at the NCIE was Dr Anita Heiss and Anne Summer’s panel “Am I Black Enough for You?” held during NAIDOC week. Notable attendees included Her Excellency Mare Bashir AO CVO Governor of New South Wales. The talk was fitting as the Federal Government’s National Anti-racism Strategy is being introduced later this year. Along with many other people present that day, I felt encouraged that racism in Australia is being acknowledged and addressed. The attendance of Dr Helen Szoke, who is leading the National Anti-racism Strategy was also pertinent.
Dr Anita Heiss with Her Excellency Marie Bashir, Anne Summers and Bianca Roberts, the NCIE’s Communications Coordinator.
From the beginning of my placement my supervisor, Carla, ensured the work I was given was challenging and engaging. I felt the tools in research and policy I had developed at university were fully utilised and further matured. Some of the work I was involved in greatly increased my knowledge of Australia’s industrial relations legislation and how it functions in an Indigenous context. Other work deepened my understanding of the day to day running of a non-profit organisation. Overall, these skills were valuable and will transfer into many professional fields across government, the non-profit sector and Indigenous affairs.
I even developed skills in areas I did not originally anticipate. I now consider myself a Master Ikea Craftsman after building a new set of furniture for the office and kitchenette. The frequent coffee runs I undertook familiarised me with the key players of Redfern’s burgeoning hipster fashion scene. At the same time, I learned the intricate differences between EastEnders and Coronation Street from Pam, whilst Mickey’s academic knowledge of Global Political Economy kept me up to date with world affairs such as the looming cocoa shortage which may affect international chocolate prices.
Nathan, Frank, Mickey, Sheena and Alara at Frank’s Farewell
Lastly, I’d recommend that if you are a current university student with a passion for Indigenous affairs policy and Native Title you apply for an internship through the Aurora Project. As you can tell, my experience as an Aurora Intern was challenging whilst also being highly rewarding. Applications for the upcoming Summer 2012/2013 internship round close on the 31st of August and placements are offered across 15 Native Title Representative Bodies (NTRBs) and 62 other organisations. For more detailed information please visit www.auroraproject.com.au
- Frank Esparraga
- NCIE Editor’s Note – We really enjoyed having Frank intern with us here at the NCIE. His intelligence and wit made his contribution to the organisation as useful and meaningful as it was fun. We wish Frank all the best on his international exchange at Boston University.