Aurora Internship Program – Summer 2017/18 – Sharon Ahmer
This summer, as an Aurora legal intern, I was lucky enough to feel that I really did something worthwhile. I spent six amazing weeks in Canberra supporting the native title research and publications team at the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies (AIATSIS). My time as an intern developed my professional skills, increased my confidence, and encouraged me to pursue a future in native title.
AIATSIS is a world-renowned research, collections and publishing organisation that promotes understanding of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture and heritage. As an independent institute, established by Commonwealth statute in 1989, AIATSIS is in the unique position of being a trusted non-political leader of collaborations between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and the Australian public and private sectors. The projects that the people at AIATSIS undertake range broadly across the law, linguistics, ethics and other social sciences so I could not help but be inspired by being amongst it all.
For more information about AIATSIS see aiatsis.gov.au
The intern experience
As an intern I felt well supported by the Aurora Internships team; I was provided with information about cultural knowledge, location and accommodation, and personal support was also available should I have needed it. Aurora also considered my particular interests in research and policy, and consulted with me, before submitting my application to AIATSIS’s Native Title Research Unit (NTRU).
I was excited at the prospect of being at the peak body for Indigenous studies. Everyone at AIATSIS made me feel welcome and I was well supported by my supervisor in the NTRU.
I was given a good variety of tasks that included desk top research, transcribing interviews, drafting case summaries, and creating website input. I even got to be involved with the last stages of work on a project about traditional fishing values that will inform fisheries management policy. I also attended staff meetings which gave me a great overview of the work being done across all of AIATSIS, and I attended a doctoral presentation at the ANU with notable people such as the President of the National Native Title Tribunal and Mick Dodson, former CEO of AIATSIS. These experiences impacted on my professional development in very practical ways. I met a lot of wonderful people and greatly honed my writing skills. I learnt about the structure of native title law as a mechanism for social justice – its benefits and its limits. This is an interesting, challenging and important area of law, and I am extremely glad that I was given the opportunity to have participated in the NTRU’s work.
Canberra is a great place to explore in your downtime. It is not called the bush capital for nothing! There are plenty of bush walks and the botanic gardens to explore, as well as Parliament House (old and new), the galleries, courts and libraries.
I would recommend the Aurora internship experience to any student or new graduate, that wants to expand their professional capabilities and to discover an area of Australian law that they may not previously have had much exposure to.
The Aurora Internship Program
The Program facilitates legal, social science, health science and social welfare internships with Indigenous and Indigenous sector organisations.
For more information see
Applications for the winter 2018 round will be open from 5th March to 30th March 2018. Adelaide students who secure an internship are also eligible to undertake the Native Title Internship Elective within the law school.