Aboriginal Legal Service (Care and Protection), Parramatta NSW
Liana Tenace, Summer 18/19
As part of the Aurora Internship Program (Summer 2018/19), I was afforded the opportunity to spend six weeks with the Aboriginal Legal Service Care and Protection team (‘ALS’) in Parramatta, NSW.
Having worked and volunteered in the community sector for a couple of years, I thought I had a firm idea of what I would be seeing during my internship. However, spending six weeks with the organisation really opened my eyes up to the incredible dedication of the ALS staff and volunteers. The work that all the administrative and legal staff do for the Indigenous community with the limited resources they have was incredibly inspiring.
The work that I undertook while completing my internship with ALS was diverse, and included tasks such as inspecting subpoenas at court and taking detailed notes, research tasks for lawyers on case law and procedural information, drafting orders, composing detailed chronologies, attending client interviews, and observing various matters at court including final hearings, interim applications, and care and protection matters in the Children’s Court. In addition to this, I also worked on an international research project which my supervisor was part of. This included extensive research on parents’ rights and responsibilities under international law, as well as the emerging concept of parent advocates.
One of the most interesting and beneficial experiences I had with ALS was shadowing lawyers at court. This was particularly so for the care and protection matters at Children’s Court as this is normally a closed court and requires leave from the magistrate to attend. Watching both the lists and final hearings was a unique opportunity to gain insight into care and protection law. I was also able to learn about the procedural aspects of these hearings and develop my knowledge of in court advocacy. Unfortunately, this also meant I saw how legislation translates into practice and how it is often the case that important principles, such as the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Placement Principle, do not always receive the support they need to be effective.
I quite enjoyed being interstate for my internship as I was able to learn about ALS and get the benefit of learning the law of another jurisdiction, whilst also explore a new city. My weekends were occupied by trips to the beach (many of which were within 30 minutes from the CBD), art galleries, restaurants and cafes, and weekend markets. There is definitely plenty to do and see in Sydney. I was also fortunate enough to work alongside the paralegals and volunteers of ALS, as well as another Aurora intern, all of which were Sydney locals and were kind enough to show me around.
I had a truly positive experience during my time at ALS and I would highly recommend this organisation to anyone with an interest in social justice. It is an opportunity to learn and absorb information about how the law works in practice and its effect on Indigenous Australians.
For more information see http://auroraproject.com.au/about-applying-internship. Applications for the summer 2019/20 round will be open from 5 through 30 August.