Amelia Sumner

Native Title
Summer 2017

Upon graduating at the University of Queensland in 2015, with a double major in Anthropology and Religion, one of my colleagues encouraged me to apply for an internship with the Aurora Internship Program. I was extremely fortunate to be accepted for a 5 week internship with Native Title Services Victoria (NTSV) during the  summer 2016/17 round. My application to Aurora stemmed from an ultimate desire to pursue a career with organisations that seek to enhance the rights and opportunities of Aboriginal Australians. Until working at NTSV my understanding of native title was relatively limited. During the course of my internship however, my knowledge of native title grew exponentially. My now deeper understanding of an anthropologist’s role in native title has also enlightened me to career opportunities I otherwise would not have known. 

From day one I felt comfortable and welcomed at NTSV. The staff were friendly and treated me as a colleague, much more than as an intern. The tasks I was allocated were challenging but explained clearly, and I was encouraged to ask questions. Travelling from Brisbane, the opportunity to live in Melbourne was an experience in and of itself. The location of NTSV in North Melbourne lends itself to an array of recreational opportunities outside of work. Due to holiday leave, I was lucky enough to have two supervisors over the course of my internship. Each of them, with their own individual way of approaching anthropology, opened my eyes to the diverse ways in which you can tackle this unique career. The other anthropologists, historians and archaeologist that I worked with in the research team furthered this notion of approaching different disciplines with an individualised style.  

I spent the majority of my internship helping to build the research background for a new claim. I was assigned varying tasks, from my supervising anthropologists, the historians and the archaeologist at NTSV. These tasks ranged from collating data to searching through hand-written archival records for key pieces of information that would help to further build on our findings. The nature of these tasks meant that I was required to engage with a number of varied readings. I found myself easily engaging with the content of this material as it was incredibly interesting, while also at times quite shocking and upsetting. While I did a number of tasks that weren't specifically anthropological, I was encouraged to tackle them with an anthropological mindset. 

The most rewarding part of my experience was seeing a continuous improvement in the work I was producing and the way in which I was able to apply an anthropologically-oriented way of thinking to various genres of work. A massive part of my internship and something I didn't expect to gain from this experience was a deeper understanding of a career in anthropology. I would recommend an internship with Aurora for this aspect alone. After seeing the work an anthropologist is able to do in the Native Title process I definitely see myself pursuing a career in anthropology. I was also very lucky to have supervisors who gave me invaluable career advice. My continuing studies will be guided by my experience at NTSV, and I would recommend an internship [at NTSV] to anyone who is interested in a career in native title or within the broader Indigenous sector of Australia. 

For more information about the Aurora Internship Program check out their website:  Applications for the winter 2017 round close on Friday 31st March 2017 and will be open in August for the summer 2017/18 round.