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ALICE REYNOLDS - VOLUNTEER
MY EXPERIENCE AT NAAFLS
Testimonial- Alice Reynolds, Legal lntern (30 July - 7 September 2012)
I was placed at NAAFLS via RRR Law (an organisation that places students wishing to complete their practical legal placement in a Rural, Regional and Remote Community Legal Centre). Originally it was arranged that I would be at NAAFLS for 16weeks. I ended up only fulfilling the first 6weeks as I cut my time short due to an employment opportunity that arose. Despite leaving earlier than planned, I stillfelt very welcomed into the NAAFLS family and feel strong ties to the Service.
Although when I first started at NAAFLS they were in the process of recruiting more staff and so existing staff were quite busy, I always felt fully supported. NAAFLS staff ensured that I was given interesting tasks, and, despite being so busy themselves, they took time out to assist me in grasping concepts and in clarifying any issues I may have had. I also attended Danruin Magistrates Court with solicitors and observed advocacy which also taught me a lot although I wasn't able to put it into practice at the time. I still believe that it has created a good foundation for my own practice as a lawyer.
Because a solicitor started just before I began and one started after I had been at NAAFLS about 4wks, I was able to shadow them in training and learn everything new solicitors had to learn. This meant I was across most procedures and skills required to work in the area of family violence- this involved mainly Domestic Violence Orders (DVOs) and crime compensation applications. I also received cultural awareness training. I drafted letters to clients, attended visits at refuges, sat in on client interviews, assisted in preparing pre-trip reports for solicitors visiting communities for Bush Court, liaised with police in communities to check progress of service of summons or DVOs and had some communication via phone with clients.
I visited Wurramiyanga on Tiwi lslands for Bush Court. lt was a fantastic experience to put faces to clients that I had dealt with over the phone, via letter or in checking over files to assist the solicitor in preparing for the visit. The trip really brought home to me the importance work that NAAFLS was doing. At times I really felt removed from the reality of the situations for the women, men and children who NAAFLS assists as all clients live in remote communities. Being given the opportunity by NAAFLS to visit a community was vital to my intern experience and I am very thankful for it. I will never forget sitting under a tree with NAAFLS staff and a client, drafting an affidavit while camp dogs ran over our files with dusty footprints.
Overall I felt really valued as an intern which created an excellent environment for learning as well as allowing me to feel I was actually contributing something worthwhile to a very worthy cause. lt was an eye-opening experience that crystallised my ambition to work in Aboriginal legal services.