UWA student Natasha Ong’s experience as an intern at the Champion Centre in the City of Armadale has reinforced her desire for all people to have access to justice, particularly those who are most disadvantaged.
Natasha, who is studying Criminology and Psychology on a path to becoming a lawyer, completed the 100-hour internship at the Champion Centre through UWA’s McCusker Centre for Citizenship.
“Everything in this internship has been a highlight,” said Natasha, who helped the Champion Centre apply for grant funding to support the advancement of their invaluable programs, pulled together information on their existing initiatives to support staff and volunteers in these programs, and assisted with their end-of-year celebration event.
Although Natasha was aware of some of the past histories and traumas faced by Aboriginal people and wanted to give back to the community, her internship offered her the chance to meaningfully interact and connect with Aboriginal people, families and communities.
“I participated in several activities with Aboriginal Elders. We had the chance to communicate and spent a lovely time chatting. This was when I realised that the families treat me like I am a part of their family. Although we are not from the same culture, I felt grateful to be able to connect with them,” said Natasha.
Natasha said her experiences listening and learning from the Aboriginal community at the Champion Centre has “opened her eyes” to issues within the criminal justice system and has reinforced her desire to follow a law career grounded in human rights and social justice.
“This internship helped me understand different perspectives and cultures from various people. I want to fight for the mistreatment and injustice that disadvantaged people are facing, not only Aboriginal people but also for people with mental health issues or individuals who cannot afford to be in the system,” said Natasha.
“Furthermore, my interaction with the staff members who want to help and support Indigenous people and others among the community really gave me the insight into taking small steps to make a difference,” she said, particularly the impact of the Champion Centre’s food security and community engagement initiatives.
Internship supervisor and City of Armadale Aboriginal Development Coordinator, Jodie Clarke, said “Natasha’s turnaround in projects that I gave her was incredible. She has the most amazing attitude and was able to help wherever she could and showed great initiative.”
Natasha is grateful for her experiences at the Champion Centre and recommends the McCusker Centre for Citizenship internship program to other students.
“It is a chance for anyone to explore and experience things outside of their comfort zone. Being put into this organisation where I was able to use my knowledge and help the community made me feel proud of myself,” says Natasha.