Five weeks working at the coalface of a women’s legal service in Darwin as part of the Aurora Internship Program helped focused the legal ambitions of fifth year ANU Law student, Harita Sridhar.
“I’m coming towards the end of my degree and I didn’t really have a clear idea of what I wanted to do – until last year when I did the Community Law Clinic at the Aboriginal Legal Service in the city.
“I really enjoyed my experiences at the ALS, seeing how the law can have differing effects on Indigenous people, and I wanted to deepen my knowledge further.
“I’d spoken to a number of fellow students who’d undertaken Aurora Internships and they all had amazing things to say about Aurora and their experiences, so I applied to do an internship at a law firm in a completely different part of Australia.
Harita was placed with the Top End Women’s Legal Service (TEWLS) in Darwin for five weeks for her Winter Internship.
“The exciting thing about TEWLS was they deal with so many aspects of the law, from victims of crime, family law, divorce, property settlement, wills, debts and fines to domestic and family violence, which was a really big one.”
Harita said that the legal service was tiny with only three full-time lawyers, a client liaison officer and two administrative staff but the demand for assistance was “huge, absolutely phenomenal”.
She describes her experience at TWELS as exciting and challenging and it helped her firm up her ideas on where she wants to work once she completes her degree next year.
“I met a lot of young people doing these exciting things and working in areas I could really see myself in. I’d really love to work for either an Aboriginal Legal Service, Legal Aid or community legal centre. Fingers crossed – I know it’s super competitive.
“Don’t get me wrong, it was confronting - absolutely. Something that struck me was that whatever legal problem our women clients had, anecdotally probably about 90 percent of them had also experienced domestic or family violence at some stage in their life, sometimes with really tragic and heartbreaking stories.
“That was confronting but the staff there and the lawyers were very supportive, debriefing us and checking on us throughout the day,” Harita said.
The Aurora Internship Program introduces law students to career opportunities in Indigenous organisations, including those dealing with law, native title, policy development, research and social justice.
Internees get valuable work experience and exposure to Indigenous organisations and they provide much-needed assistance to under-resourced and over-worked organisations.
Eleven ANU Law students took up Aurora Internships in the Winter placement round, working in organisations around the country from Broome, Geraldton, Kununurra, Darwin and Sydney to Melbourne and Canberra.
Applications for the Summer Aurora Internship Program are now open, closing on Friday 26 August, 2016.