By Clare McBride Kelly, Member, Law Reform and Social Justice (LRSJ) ANU College of Law
This summer I had the transformative opportunity of interning as part of the Aurora Internship Program at the North Australian Aboriginal Justice Agency (NAAJA) in Darwin, placed with the Community Legal Education team. NAAJA provides culturally safe, high quality, specialist legal services to Aboriginal people living in the Top End. I deeply appreciate the time that my supervisor, John Rawnsley, and the CLE team dedicated to training me, expanding my understanding of emerging areas of law reform and developing my practical legal skills and knowledge.
I was privileged to shadow numerous NAAJA legal education sessions with local community groups and schools. I witnessed how the provision of clear and tailored legal education can act as bridge between the complex, ever-changing legal world, and the lives of students, families and communities. I also gained an insight into how culturally safe and clear community legal education can operate as an upstream, preventive tool in combatting the overincarceration of Indigenous Australians living in the Top End.
I also was honoured to shadow both criminal and civil lawyers at NAAJA, who cover a broad range of practise areas, united by their shared commitment to social justice. This allowed me to gain an in-depth insight into the tasks that need to be completed in preparation for and during court cases.
Another component of my internship involved creating an extensive legal historical timeline of Darwin, documenting key legislation and case law produced in the Northern Territory since colonisation. This required a deep dive into historical textbooks, newspapers, legislative records and judicial decisions. This timeline will be used for NAAJA’s legal practicum courses. Students will read the legislation and caselaw provided within the timeline and then hear from numerous Larrakia leaders about Darwin’s history, highlighting the juxtaposition between the written law and it’s actual and enduring impact on Aboriginal people living in the Northern Territory.
I was deeply honoured to visit key historical sites in Darwin with the CLE team, where we read relevant legislation together and the team recounted their own family and communities lived experiences of these laws. I would like to thank the CLE team for the deep learning and education they offered me.
Thank you to my supervisor, John Rawnsley, for your generous and insightful mentorship, sharing your specialist expertise in law reform, Australian history and health justice partnerships. Thank you to AURORA for making possible this transformative internship. Furthermore, the specialist teaching at the ANU College of Law and informative initiatives of the Law Reform and Social Justice Collective prepared me well for this internship. I encourage any students interested in developing their legal skills and learning about the intersection of social justice and the law, to apply for an AURORA internship.
See https://internships.aurorafoundation.com.au/about-internship-program for more information. Applications for the winter 2021 round will be open from 8 through 26 March.
- Clare McBride Kelly is a law student at ANU College of Law and a member of the Law Reform and Social Justice (LRSJ) project.