My Summer with National Aboriginal Sporting Chance Academy

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By Joanna Irving

It is easy to sit back at home during the holidays, but this year I felt that was too easy. I wanted to challenge myself and work with an organisation that aims to help individuals and empower communities, and at the same time gain more legal and research experience.

I realised that the Aurora Project was the perfect organisation to help me with this challenge after an information session at the end of a university lecture. The Aurora Native Title Internship Program supports Aboriginal organisations throughout Australia and provides opportunities for all Australians to gain experience in the Indigenous sector. The Program offers legal, social science as well as anthropology internships and matches students and recent graduates with an organisation that suits their skills, experiences and degree. After successfully passing through the application process, I was offered a six week internship with the National Aboriginal Sporting Chance Academy (NASCA).

Before my internship, I had completed the Indigenous Peoples and the Law subject at university, which taught me that Aboriginal cultures are complex and diverse, but also something I would love to learn more about. NASCA was the perfect placement organisation for me as it taught me about the importance of cultural pride for Indigenous people and working with communities to encourage social change.

NASCA was established in 1995 by former Aboriginal rugby league player David Liddiard with the aim to encourage Aboriginal participation in sports. Now NASCA has expanded and delivers educational, health, sport and cultural programs for Indigenous students, with the aim of ‘closing the gap’ and improving the lives of Indigenous youth. NASCA runs ARMTours (Athletes as Role Models) where role models are taken to four remote Northern Territory communities, Careers and Aspirations Programs and Sporting Chance Academies, run in Dubbo and South Sydney. I worked with the Careers and Aspirations Program, the purpose of which is to inform Indigenous students about career opportunities available to them and to educate them on the importance of attending and finishing school and living a healthy lifestyle.

During my time at NASCA, I researched and created contract proposals in collaboration with a law firm. This proved to me that my law degree could be useful in an organisation that promotes community development, which is the field I hope to work in in the future. My research into NASCA’s history allowed me to understand how the organisation has grown and the positive impact NASCA’s programs have had on Indigenous students and communities. This project made me feel even more privileged and grateful to be a part of an organisation dedicated to making a difference. I believe that NASCA’s programs and their welcoming dedicated staff members have contributed to the closing the gap on Indigenous disadvantage.

So if you start thinking that you do not know what to do during the upcoming holidays, but you want to gain experience – why not take on a new challenge and work with an organisation that gives you a greater understanding of the Indigenous sector and/or community development? Take the challenge. It is worth it.

You can apply to undertake an internship with Aurora during the summer or winter university holidays.

Applications for the upcoming winter 2013 round of internships will be open online via the Aurora website 4 – 28 March 2013 at http://www.auroraproject.com.au/nativetitleinternshipprogram