25 Jun 2020

Intern Blog #1: First Impressions

Posted25 Jun 2020

Intern Blog #1: First Impressions

It has been almost 4 weeks now since I moved to Wollongong and started as an intern at Land Equity International. Having migrated from North Queensland, the first thing I noticed was my lack of adequate winter clothing! Learning the ropes at LEI has been a steep learning curve, nevertheless, a challenge I am relishing and already finding extremely rewarding. Despite lock down not fully lifted, I have quickly come to love Wollongong as a city, particularly the beauty of its bush walks and stunning coastline, perfect for any person with an interest in the outdoors.

The close-knit LEI team gave me a warm welcome. With a wealth of combined knowledge of land administration, the team easily pointed me towards some core readings including Land Administration for Sustainable Development and Land administration as well as online courses, all invaluable sources I would recommend to others looking to start in land administration. Suggestions for reading were even coming in from around the world through LEI’s network via Linkedin.

My first few days at LEI saw me daunted with the sheer volume of acronyms and land administration jargon flowing through the office. I dived in the deep end, joining LEI’s annual planning sessions as my first week in the office. It was a great way to get to know all the core staff both in office, as well as those operating outside Australia. Listening in on the planning sessions allowed me to gain a broad picture of LEI’s active projects and fundamental values as well as an insight into how LEI operates as a business, a world I was somewhat unfamiliar with having an academic background in social anthropology. I’m quickly expanding my skills from having an academic background and writing style to adapt my writing in formal documents to what feels like a more ‘legalistic’ style.

An immediate issue that I saw affecting LEI was the impact that the COVID-19 pandemic has had on the way in which international development projects are operating around the world. For example, LEI’s ongoing project in the Mekong region has seen significant logistical disruption to organised activities and workshops as well as displacement of staff due to protective measures. Despite setbacks, one favourable outcome of the measures for social distancing and travel restrictions has been an increase in the opportunities for online interaction in debates and webinars by LEI staff. Such opportunities that I feel I may not be afforded if they were only to be held in the ‘real world’.

Indigenous culture and studies are a personal interest of mine. My previous research into contemporary issues facing Indigenous youths in Australia, conducted whilst studying at the University of Melbourne, was central to my final dissertation submission. I’ve been following the recent news in which Australia has been faced with the sadness of the disparity between Indigenous groups and commercial interest as portrayed in the Rio Tinto blasts of Juukan gorge. The blasting destroyed the sacred aboriginal site of significant archaeological importance with artefacts found dating back 46000 years. Such disparity has been amplified by the voice of protest catalysed by the Black Lives Matter movements which we have seen come out of the US – and which has further meaning for Australia. At a time when demonstrators are calling out for us to face up to the reality of the rift in Australia as a two-nation state, I am grateful to be working with a company that champions the equity of opportunity for minority groups at the forefront of its mission.

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