Alison Kay

Winter 2018

The Agreements Treaties and Negotiated Settlements (ATNS) project falls within the Melbourne School of Population and Global Health at the University of Melbourne. The ATNS project is an Australian Research Council Linkage project which maintains a database of information about past agreements/treaties between Indigenous Australians, governments, mining companies and other entities. ATNS is designed to be a database that provides comprehensive but easily understandable information relating to a particular agreement.

I was placed as an Aurora intern at ATNS for four weeks and my main task was to update the ATNS database. This involved summarising Federal Court consent determinations as well as Indigenous Land Use Agreements from the National Native Title Tribunal and entering them into the database. The process involved researching background information about the native title claim, applying all relevant legislation and including any other relevant interests in the land. Throughout the internship, my understanding of native title grew, and it became easier to summarise the determinations into plain English, a skill which is highly important for lawyers. I found my research skills were also challenged throughout the internship and definitely improved over time, as well as my editing and proofing skills. I also assisted other team members in working on other projects including Indigenous data sovereignty proposals.

The team within the Melbourne School of Population and Global Health were really flexible and encouraged me to get out and take advantage of events at the University of Melbourne. During my time at ATNS I attended a trade and policy lecture at the law school, the NAIDOC exhibition at Melbourne Museum and another lecture run by Marcia Langton. I also learnt a lot more about Indigenous culture, history and some of the landmark cases within Australia. I am thankful for the flexibility and welcoming nature of the team within the ATNS as it made my experience enjoyable. The unit is also situated in Carlton and is really close to delicious food on Lygon Street and is an easy walk/or tram into the city, as well as the law school and other parts of campus.  Overall, this was a valuable experience for my law degree as I now have insight into an area I would not have had otherwise.

The best thing about the Aurora Internship Program is feeling as though you are making a positive difference to an organisation who may not have completed the work otherwise. The internship provided a great insight into the native title sector and I would encourage anyone with an interest in Indigenous affairs to undertake this program whether it be within a legal field or social sciences.