Tess Vermeer – Stand Up internship
TESS VERMEER – Stand Up Australia internship
Approaching the third year of my Bachelor of Arts majoring in Human Rights, I felt that it was important to expand my learning beyond academic papers and lectures. Arts Internships offered me this opportunity to enhance my degree and embrace a practical approach to learning. I was accepted into the ‘Stand Up’ internship in late February with the role of helping out in the Indigenous Partnership Program. This was a fantastic opportunity for me to expand my interest in social justice and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander affairs. Although I was certainly interested in the history and academic debates surrounding the First Nations, the internship gave me the ability to see how contemporary issues could be approached.
In the first semester of my second year I completed a unit called ‘The Holocaust’ which centred on the European Shoah during the Second World War. I found the content incredibly confronting but the events and issues which I encountered enhanced my will to continue work in social change and justice. I questioned how an entire people could be persecuted, displaced and ultimately murdered under the careful eye of a modern international community. I also encountered the issue of certain victims falling through the cracks of history based on gender and stereotyping. These questions led me to contemporary Australia and made me wonder what was being done to prevent such atrocities and lack of memory from occurring again.
Working with Stand Up and their Indigenous program may not have answered these complex questions, but it has helped me to grapple with them and envisage a way forward. Stand Up is a Jewish organisation which is pursuing the legacy of the Shoah in an incredibly meaningful and impactful manner; focusing on creating long-term connections with Indigenous communities and educating the wider Jewish community on their role in social justice. Through the internship, I have had the opportunity to meet leaders in this area and participate in events like the holiday programs for Sudanese youth, seeing tangible social impact. I am hopeful that I will be able to attend the Derech Eretz holiday program in July, this is a camp run for Indigenous communities in Toomleh and Boggabilla in NSW. The practical insight into the unique struggles of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and the impact of creating strong friendships and mutual connections is something that I will continue to pursue in the near future. I am incredibly grateful to have had this opportunity to work alongside Stand Up and their powerful social programs.