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The Aurora Project places students and graduates from disciplines such as law, anthropology and some social sciences into internship placements at the 15 Native Title Representative Bodies (NTRBs) and over 50 other Indigenous organisations working in policy development, social justice and human rights around Australia.
Law students are custodians of peace
When Judge Weeramantry, of the International Court of Justice, visited the Deakin's Burwood campus recently he made a comment that stuck with Sharon Lynch. He said law students are 'Custodians of Peace and can make the 21st century a "Century of Peace"'. Judge Weeramantry said that law students, and eventually lawyers, judges etc, hold a unique place in our society.
Sharon agreed wholeheartedly with his call for law students, to open their minds to the wisdom that comes from engaging with different cultures. Sharon says 'Through the study of law, we have the knowledge to make substantial changes in our spheres of influence and, over the course of our respective careers, we will be provided with some unique opportunities to see those changes happen.'
Reconciliation Australia, an independent, not-for-profit organisation, is the peak national organisation which builds and promotes reconciliation between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and other Australians for the wellbeing of the nation.
The CEO of Reconciliation Australia is a Torres Strait Islander woman and its Board is led by influential Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians, such as Professor Mick Dodson AM, the Honourable Fred Chaney AO, Ms Djapirri Mununggirritj and Mr Graham Evans AO - all of whom Sharon was fortunate enough to meet during her time in Canberra. Adding to the uniqueness of her experience was the location of Reconciliation Australia's offices, which is Old Parliament House!
Student's legal analysis and opinion makes a practical difference
Sharon feels that her internship at Reconciliation Australia was an opportunity for her to see changes as they happen. Her work involved assisting with research into specific sectors for the purpose of informing strategic policy documents in regard to the Reconciliation Action Plan program. During the course of the research Sharon was invited to attend and participate in various meetings in the ACT, Victoria and New South Wales with a range of stakeholders and peak organisations.
Sharon says 'It was the first time during the course of my degree that I felt my legal analysis and opinion was taken into consideration in a practical way for the purpose of a cause much bigger than exams.' Sharon had the opportunity to meet and work with some important people in reconciliation, all of whom were committed to seeing changes to the way interactions between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and other Australians occur now and into the future.
Shaping hopes for the future- both personal and national!
This internship has certainly shaped Sharon's hopes for the future and her career. 'It was not lost on me just what an interesting time in our nation's history I was fortunate enough to be gaining this experience. With the Rudd government's Apology to the Stolen Generations just three years behind us and a question of Constitutional recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians upon our government's lips, I left the experience feeling as though I have found the cause I want to use my degree to fight for. Now I just have to finish my degree!'
To find out more: If you are interested in pursuing a career in native title, Aboriginal affairs or reconciliation then please consider applying for an internship with The Aurora Project.
Sharon Lynch in front of Old Parliament House