Aurora Internship Reflection

In 2018, Aliya Chalmers completed an internship at SNAICC (Secretariat for National Aboriginal and Islander Childcare) through the Aurora Internship Program.

I’d like to acknowledge and pay my respects to the traditional owners of the land which I live today, the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin nation, and pay my respects to elders past, present and future.

As an Aboriginal woman on a journey to find my own mob and culture, I want to work with and for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in future. Knowing this I readily jumped at the opportunity to apply for the Aurora Internship Program.

The Aurora Internship Program is an organisation that places both Indigenous and non-Indigenous graduate and undergraduate students into non-for-profit Indigenous sector organisations around Australia. Within the many different streams offered, I was accepted into the program through social sciences due to my continuing Bachelor of Arts degree majoring in Indigenous studies and psychology at the University of Melbourne.

I was placed in SNAICC (Secretariat for National Aboriginal and Islander Childcare) – National Voice for Our Children on a 4-week internship (5 days a week). Based in Fitzroy, Melbourne, SNAICC is a national non-government peak body organisation that represents the interests of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and families. SNAICC is the backbone for advocating Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children’s rights through their development of policy and research to create numerous resources for other organisations and communities to follow.

During my time at SNAICC I was placed in the policy and research team and given an outline with set tasks to work on for the time I was there. My main task was assisting with the development of best practice guidelines for the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Child Placement Principle (ATSICPP). This work is necessary to help make sure the ATSICPP is correctly implemented into each state and territory for the benefit of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children engaging with child protection and or family services. I developed a drafted guideline for an element of the ATSICPP, regarding the process for child protective and family services to correctly identify (with cultural sensitivity) if a child is Aboriginal and or Torres Strait Islander. In addition to my main task I helped in the early years sector by making follow up calls around Australia regarding the changes to the childcare package, while also helped pack the abundant amounts of Children’s Day bags. This year celebrates the 30th anniversary of national Aboriginal and Islander Children’s Day.

Since the first day at SNAICC until the end of my placement I was welcomed and included as part of the organisation. I was included in conference calls, follow up meetings on current projects and involved in staff meetings and lunch outings. Everybody on the team is lovely and offers great insight and a significant role in SNAICC. I was not only included as part of the team but valued in my opinion and work that I created which showed how much I contributed to the tireless efforts of all the staff at SNAICC to produce much needed resources.

My placement at SNAICC fell within NAIDOC week and I experienced celebrating NAIDOC as part of a leading Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander focused organisation. Even though SNAICC becomes very busy during NAIDOC I was still able to participate in the march and other NAIDOC events such as Children’s Day at the Farm which meant a lot to me. Being able to celebrate NAIDOC within a work environment was so refreshing and showed me that SNAICC really does have the best interests of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

My experience at SNAICC was well worthwhile as I not only learnt more about research, policy and working as part of an organisation for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people but made many new friends along the way. I feel like I truly contributed to the fundamental and vital work being done by SNAICC for our children so that they can grow up feeling important, safe and strong in culture.

I would highly recommend applying for the Aurora Internship Program to gain experience and valuable understanding into hardworking and central Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations. The Aurora team excels this experience through their support and interest in the work you approach. For more information on the Internship Program and host organisations check out Aurora’s website: www.auroraproject.com.au.