Applying for an internship working in an Indigenous organisation was a logical step for final year ANU College of Law student Pia Walker.
Pia was one of eight ANU students over summer to undertake an Aurora Internship, spending six weeks working with Reconciliation Australia in Canberra.
“Understanding Indigenous Australia is important for anyone wanting to work in the law, even for people who aren’t interested working long term in this area – because you come up against Indigenous issues so often in whatever field of law you work in,” Pia said.
Aurora coordinator at the ANU College of Law, Associate Professor Matthew Zagor, said Aurora internships provide an invaluable opportunity for students interested in working in the field after graduation.
“The Aurora project aims to strengthen Indigenous organisations by supporting their staff and facilitating opportunities for all Australians to work in organisations in the Indigenous sector Australia wide, from Native Title Representative Bodies and Prescribed Bodies Corporate to organisations involved in policy development, research and social justice.
“The program is justifiably popular amongst ANU law students who often speak about their Aurora experiences as life-changing.
“Each round, ANU ranks as the top law school nationally both in terms of applications and placements – a reputation of which we can be rightfully proud,” he said.
Pia speaks highly of the opportunities the Aurora Internship Program gave her to appreciate the many practical and policy issues Indigenous Australians face every day.
“I was interested in working for one of the non-legal Indigenous organisations because I was interested in how the law could inform policy and influence larger debates around social issues.
“Aurora is a completely unique opportunity to gain an insight into areas of the law as an undergrad that you wouldn’t otherwise get to experience.
Pia said the opportunity to work full time for an extended period through the Aurora internship was much more valuable than working one day a week in a clerkship.
“You get experience in a real work environment, become integrated into a workplace, attend their meetings and get an insight into how organisations function.
“Reconciliation Australia gave me a lot of independence to run projects on my own. They put a lot of trust in my view, and gave me the chance to test out things that I’d learnt in my law studies."
Pia is doing a double degree in law and psychology and was awarded the Human Rights award at the College’s Annual Prizes ceremony in early March.
Applications for the winter Aurora Internship Program are now open, closing 5pm AEST on Friday, 1st April 2016.
BY LYN LARKIN