Law students go remote for Aurora Internships

15 June 2017

The eleven students selected from ANU Law are a testament to the social justice ethos that ANU College of Law embodies through its teaching and outreach projects such as the Law Reform and Social Justice Initiative.

ANU Law students will spend their break working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities throughout Australia under the winter 2017 Aurora Scholarship.

The 11 students, will take part in the Aurora Project, which provides student internships to a range of Indigenous community service providers.

Many students travel to remote communities to provide assistance to regional Aboriginal legal services, where they gain experience court hearings, supervised client interviews, case research, and community outreach.

Isabella Wildsmith, who is in her fourth year studying a Bachelor of Laws at ANU (LLB), will spend almost six weeks in Katherine working for the North Australian Aboriginal Justice Agency (NAAJA).

She will experience working in bush courts and remote civil clinics when lawyers from NAAJA travel to remote communities to provide legal advice and support to clients.

"It's one thing to read about the issues Indigenous people face around law and justice, but it's another thing to go there and do the work," Isabella said.

"I wanted to take part in the work that makes an impact day-to-day in an average, rural Aboriginal community."

Some Aurora interns will also have the opportunity to work on larger legal projects such as native title legislation and coronial inquests.

Second-year JD student Bede Thompson is among the cohort of interns who will stay in Canberra, where he will complete his internship at the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies (AIATSIS). There he will work as a legal intern examining the right to negotiate provisions in the Native Title Act.

"More and more of our law courses are catering to access to justice issues, particularly for Indigenous Australians, so I thought it would be interesting to work in that area," he said.

"I thought it would be interesting to see native title law in practice, and good experience as well."

Next semester Bede will begin volunteering for the Kimberley Community Legal Service hotdesk - a remote legal assistance service provided by ANU Law students and the Law Reform and Social Justice initiative.

This has been the Aurora Project's largest winter intake, with 123 students from law, anthropology, education, social science and health science disciplines chosen throughout Australia.

ANU Law Dean Professor Stephen Bottomley was impressed with the initiative the students had taken in seeking the Aurora internships.

"The eleven students selected from ANU Law are a testament to the social justice ethos that ANU College of Law embodies through its teaching and outreach projects such as the Law Reform and Social Justice Initiative," he said.

Another nine ANU students from anthropology and social science disciplines have also been selected including Arts/Law student Sienna Lake who completed a summer legal internship with Aurora earlier this year.