UWA student Ines Alvarez-Cascos sought out funding opportunities to support housing initiatives for First Nations people facing homelessness through a McCusker Centre for Citizenship internship at Noongar Mia Mia.
“Noongar Mia Mia is the only Indigenous-led homeless support organisation in Western Australia and they aim to provide tenancy support services with a cultural approach,” said Ines.
The Master of International Relations and International Law student assisted Noongar Mia Mia to find grant and fundraising opportunities to fund their important housing and support service programs.
For Ines, who is from Spain, learning about Noongar culture and identifying the parallels between her own culture were extremely valuable.
“The highlight of my internship was realising how Noongar culture and Spanish culture have lots of similarities. The importance of family and knowledge is important for both of our cultures, and this made it easier for me to understand and empathise with Noongar culture,” said Ines.
Ines gained valuable insights into Noongar culture from researchers at Noongar Mia Mia, where she was especially struck by the Indigenous Australian understanding of ‘home’.
“While home means a place to live and a shelter for Western people, Noongar people are deeply connected both physically and spiritually to the place they call home, which intrinsically relates to their beliefs about creation, life, death and spirits,” said Ines.
“I learned that homelessness is a concept that did not exist in Australia prior to colonisation. I also learned that Aboriginal people suffer from spiritual homelessness as they are denied access to their spiritual homes, families, and knowledge,” she noted.
These learnings showed Ines how Noongar Mia Mia’s culturally and socially aware approach to providing housing support for First Nations people in WA is valuable and necessary.
“This internship opened my eyes and taught me that Aboriginal Australians proudly embed culture in everything they do, and that non-Aboriginal people should respect and admire this,” said Ines.
The Noongar Mia Mia team were thankful for Ines’ contributions throughout the internship.
“We were delighted to have Ines’ help in finding new opportunities to connect with likeminded people and organisations to grow our impact, and she’s deepened our understanding of what works well in the fundraising space. We were very impressed by her curiosity and commitment to making a difference, and we wish her all the best of luck with what we’re sure will be a bright future.” says Lara, Marketing & Grants Manager at Noongar Mia Mia.
Ines says her internship at Noongar Mia Mia has had an immense personal impact, shifting her mindset and future career goals.
“Thanks to this internship I realised that I want my future job to have an impact in the community I live in. I also think this internship helped me find out the next steps of my career and I am very excited to see how this goes,” said Ines.
Ines recommends the McCusker Centre for Citizenship internship to all students that want to “deliver positive change through social and community contribution”.
“These internships are a great opportunity to make a meaningful contribution to the community no matter how small it is. It is an incredible opportunity to grow both personally and professionally while working with likeminded people,” says Ines.