“In 2015 I was an Aurora intern at the Top End Women’s Legal Service in Darwin,” she recalls.
“My time in Darwin showed me that the effects of intergenerational trauma and the disadvantaged circumstances in which many Aboriginal people find themselves, cause and perpetuate the cycle of violence and entry into the justice system.
“This problem is compounded by the difficulty many Aboriginal people have accessing justice in our legal system. Confronted by these issues, I chose to write my Law Honours thesis about the discriminatory impact of the NT’s Alcohol Mandatory Treatment Act upon Aboriginal people.”
ANU students received 12 Aurora Internship places in the winter round – the most of any Australian law school – with hosts in Alice Springs, Kununurra, Darwin, Sydney and Canberra with entities including legal services, research institutions and Native Title barristers.
“It’s a fabulous program that lets students engage with Indigenous social justice issues and communities to gain incredible experiences and learning before they graduate,” says Associate Professor Matthew Zagor, Director of Law Reform and Social Justice, which oversees the university’s involvement in the Aurora program.
ANU Law has topped the number of applications and placements in every year of Aurora’s existence, a tradition of which we are very proud, Prof. Zagor adds.
Tess applied for an Aurora Internship – applications close 5pm 31 August – after her brother completed one with the Northern Australian Aboriginal Justice Agency (NAAJA).
“He raved about it, so I saw the Aurora Internship opportunity as a great way of gaining some practical experience in a community legal service.
“At the Top End Women’s Legal Service, I assisted with interviewing clients and preparing client advices in relation to family law disputes, victims of crime compensation applications, discrimination claims and housing and tenancy issues.
“I also assisted in preparing the Service’s submission for the government inquiry into the Domestic and Family Violence Act.”
Tess has continued working with Indigenous communities since the internship, including establishing an Indigenous reconciliation project between ANU John XXIII College students and the Mutitijulu Aboriginal community near Uluru, and bringing the community’s artists to Canberra to sell their works.
Today, Tess is working as a policy officer for the Indigenous-run Danila Dilba Health Service in Darwin, currently working on the implementation of the recommendations of the Royal Commission into youth detention and child protection in the NT. Since graduating, her roles have included serving as an Associate to NT Supreme Court Justice Hiley in Darwin, and a clerkship with Allens in Sydney.
Tess encourages law students to apply for the summer 2018-19 round.
“It’s a fantastic opportunity to get a taste of law and policy in practice and meet wonderful, passionate people working in the field.”