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My Aurora internship has given me an opportunity to gain experience and insight into working in native title research and policy, which I am certain will be invaluable in my future career.

Jessica Ward,
placed at Australian Institute of Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Studies (AIATSIS)

What is an Aurora internship?

Internships are available at NTRBs, PBCs and other organisations working in policy development, social justice and Indigenous affairs more generally. Internships provide an excellent opportunity for students and graduates to consider careers in these fields, while at the same time providing additional resources to organisations in need of assistance.

What will I gain from undertaking an Aurora internship?

Aurora interns summer 2015/16

  • A legitimate career/study-based learning experience in a vocational placement that enhances learning and will inform and inspire your future study and work life
  • Internships are a benefit to you as a student, near-graduate and/or graduate transitioning from education to the workforce or considering a career change
  • An opportunity to gain hands on experience and insight into working in the Indigenous sector in Australia. 
  • Access to experience in an industry that can otherwise be difficult to access - a great “foot in the door”
  • Create professional relationships in a new network of of experienced practitioners and mentors 
  • Develop valuable practical legal, research and cross cultural skills 
  • An insightful and humbling experience which can be transformative and can often lead to paid work
  • The chance to gaining a depth of knowledge of some of the issues facing Indigenous communities in Australia
  • An experience that highlights the importance of access to justice 
  • An opportunity to apply theory to real world practice 
  • Be inspired to consider pursuing a career in the sector
  • The opportunity to take advantage of the numerous career opportunities offered by Aurora as a direct outcome of your internship as well as by joining the Aurora alumni network - see Internships - making a difference and Positions vacant. 

Where can I go?

Aurora winter 2015 interns at Recognise

Fifteen NTRBs, 10 PBCs and over 100 other organisations Australia-wide have hosted Aurora interns. Academically strong and with a keen interest in native title, land rights,  social justice, policy and the broader Indigenous sector, interns offer host organisations assistance and support in the legal, anthropology and other research related areas of their host organisation.

Who hosts Aurora interns?

Aurora interns are hosted by organisations who work in native title, land rights, policy development, human rights and the broader Indigenous sector including:

Who can apply for an internship?

 Internships are available to students and graduates in:

  • Anthropology
  • Law
  • Social science (archeology, cultural heritage, environmental management, history, human geography, sociology).
International applicants

We accept applications from students and graduates from overseas. Selection to be eligible for a placement for overseas applicants is very competitive as the primary aim of the program is to attract and retain people to work in the area of Australian Indigenous affairs at some point in the future. We therefore encourage overseas applicants to apply only if they have a background in either law, anthropology, archaeology, cultural heritage, environmental management, human geography, history and/or sociology and a keen interest in working in the area of land rights, policy development, social justice and human rights – all with an Indigenous focus. Having the intention to remain in Australia or return at some point after an internship would certainly strengthen your application.

There are a few matters to consider for an international applicants:

  • That you are legally permitted to undertake an unpaid internship in Australia
  • That you are able to fully cover your airfare, accommodation and daily living expenses whilst on placement
  • Whether you are open to being placed anywhere in Australia or if you have a preference and if so, which cities those are?
  • If you are a legal applicant, as you will not have studied Australian Property Law and are therefore probably not familiar with the Native Title Act 1993 (Cth) and the Aboriginal Land Rights (Northern Territory) Act 1976 (Cth) – it might be advisable to consider the possibility of a policy and advocacy placement in a non NTRB organisation rather than a placement at a Native Title Representative Body (NTRB), where knowledge of the Acts and Australian Property Law is crucial.

What do I need to apply for an internship?

All applicants for internships need:

  • a strong academic record
  • an interest in the area of native title, social justice and Indigenous affairs more generally
  • strong cultural awareness and sensitivity
  • good interpersonal and communication skills.

In addition specific requirements may apply:

  • Law applicants need to be currently enrolled in, or have completed, the Property Law component of your legal studies and it is important that you have covered native title in the specific Property component (this may vary depending on the curriculum at your university, i.e. Property A or B; or Introduction to Property and Commercial Law or Real Property). 
  • You may still be eligible if you have completed a substantial part of your law degree but have not yet completed the Property component.  Contact placements team to determine if you are eligible.
  • For social science applicants, a background in archaeology, cultural heritage, environmental management, history, human geography and sociology is most appropriate but other specialisations may also be considered.
  • For anthropology applicants – no specific additional requirements apply.

How long is an internship?

Most internships run for four to six weeks over the mid June to August (winter) and November to March (summer) university breaks, however there is flexibility around these timeframes, especially for recent graduates. Internships are a full-time commitment usually around 40 hours per week and are unpaid. When considering applying to the Internship Program you must commit to the minimum internship length.

What sort of work can I expect to do?

Interns can be placed at either one of the 15 NTRBs,10 PBCs, supporting their legal or research staff; or at one of over 100 other host organisations working to support the Indigenous sector.

Interns should expect to be given a balance of challenging and interesting tasks along with a fair amount of administration tasks (database entry, filing etc.)

Most NTRB internships involve native title and land rights-related work, but the work may also cover constitutional law and local government regulations.

  • Lawyers at NTRBs represent native title holders in their native title claims under the Native Title Act 1993, advise traditional owners on agreements and negotiate agreements alongside traditional owners. They assist with the establishment of PBCs, corporations formed as a result of a native title determination, prepare submissions to government; attend court and on-country meetings, among a raft of other tasks.
  • Anthropologists at NTRBs play a key role in the native title process in Australia by conducting research, undertaking field work and preparing ‘connection reports’ and genealogical data for claims under the Native Title Act 1993.
  • Research staff at NTRBs with a background in history, archaeology and cultural heritage might be involved in research, field work, preparing ‘connection reports’ and genealogical data for claims under the Native Title Act 1993.

Internships at other organisations could encompass a wider range of advocacy, research and policy issues relating to human rights, social justice, policy development and Indigenous affairs more generally. You should be aware that the work may not involve native title.

  • Research staff at other organisations, undertake research and policy development, prepare reports and submissions to government.

What will it cost?

  • Internships are unpaid
  • You will need to cover your own day-to-day expenses (e.g. food, entertainment, local travel etc.) so careful consideration should be given to this prior to applying for an internship
  • If your preference is to be placed away from home, you will generally be expected to source your own accommodation and organise your own transport. You should have a clear idea of your accommodation and transport options prior to applying for an internship
  • In some instances, a host organisation can assist you with travel costs and/or accommodation expenses, or possibly a weekly stipend.
  • Some universities offer funding to interns placed through Aurora. It is your responsibility to make enquiries directly through your university. To date the following universities have offered assistance:
    • Flinders University
    • Griffith University
    • Macquarie University
    • Queensland University of Technology
    • University of Adelaide
    • University of Melbourne
    • University of Queensland.

You should consult with your relevant faculty or school for further information.

Can I get course credit?

Course credit for undertaking an internship through Aurora is sometimes available. Currently universities offering course credit include:

  • Flinders University
  • James Cook University
  • Macquarie University
  • Murdoch University
  • University of Adelaide
  • University of Canberra
  • University of Melbourne
  • University of New South Wales
  • University of Sydney
  • Macquarie University (PACE Program)
  • University of Western Australia

You should consult with your relevant faculty or school for further information.

ABstudy - Away from Base activity funding:

This can be used to claim funding for activities which require students to travel away from their home for a short period of time. A submission is required for an activity to be undertaken by an institution for: • testing and assessment programs • residential schools • field trips, and • placements.

Away from base activities’ are necessary academic components of an approved course which require students to travel away from their home or study location for a short period of time. For ABSTUDY purposes, these activities are grouped into categories which cover testing and assessment programs, residential schools or block release programs, field trips and tertiary placements. Mainstream and special course activities have different approval processes. Mainstream courses are courses which are open to all eligible students. Special courses are courses designed for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students only.   See more information at

What is expected of interns?

Every internship is unique. Irrespective of whether you are placed at an NTRB, PBC or one of the other host organisations working to support the Indigenous sector, you are there to assist. Interns are encouraged to have lower expectations going into the internship and to approach the experience with flexibility and a willingness to support the often time-poor staff. Host organisations are almost always resource constrained and are more than happy to have an extra pair of hands to assist with their workload. Supervision can be minimal at times requiring an ability to work independently and to show initiative. Interns should expect to be given a balance of challenging and interesting tasks along with a fair amount of administration tasks (database entry, filing etc.)

Interns commit to fulfilling a number of obligations during and after their placement, which include:

  •  Complying with the Intern obligations and code of conduct and professional ethics for interns

  • Emailing a weekly report to the Placements team (which is copied to their supervisor)

  • Completing an overview questionnaire at the end of their placement

  • Addressing the student body of their faculty to raise awareness of the Program

  • Writing a reflective article to be published in an appropriate publication at their university. 

Aurora interns will receive a Certificate of Completion once all of their Aurora intern obligations have been fulfilled.  

Support for interns - Resources

The Placements team:

  • correspond with you weekly
  • are always available to discuss your concerns and offer support
  • available by phone 24 hours/day for emergencies.

You will receive a link to the Handbook for Interns prior to the commencement of your internship. The Handbook for Interns (PDF 8.3MB) contain useful information to support you while on your internship, and includes:

  • confidentiality, privacy, legal ethics etc.
  • host organisations and their role in native title and indigenous affairs
  • an overview of native title
  • cross-cultural awareness
  • hints and tips for interns – organisational and geographic specific information
  • insurance, emergency contacts etc.

A valuable supplement to The Handbook for Interns (PDF 8.3MB) is the Hints and Tips for Aurora Interns by Location (PDF 1MB) which includes detailed information from past interns about their experiences not just working within their specific host organisations, but also of the cities they have been placed in.

Alumni network

Participation in the Internship Program automatically means you join the Aurora alumni. As an alumnus, you will receive emails inviting you to events and directing you to check employment opportunities in the area of native title, policy development and Indigenous affairs at the positions vacant area on this website.