I first learned about the Aurora Internship Program when I was completing a unit in Contemporary Law and Justice. I worked towards fulfilling their criteria for applications, and finally in my second year of study, I applied for the 2018 winter round . I was successful in achieving a placement at Cape York Land Council (CYLC) in Cairns for four weeks. I had no experience in native title law however I was looking forward to the experience.
CYLC is a non-profit organisation that is a native title representative body (NTRB). My role as a legal intern was to assist the lawyers with their work. In my four weeks at CYLC I did various tasks such as gathering information regarding all Land Trust and Aboriginal Corporations in the Cape York region, writing case summaries and research memorandums, gathering land related information on several townships in the Cape and understanding how the extinguishment of native title works in relation to public works and other infrastructures. I also had to familiarise myself with the Native Title Act 1993 (Cth) and the Corporations (Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander) Act 2006 (Cth). This internship gave me the opportunity to use all the skills and concepts that I have learned in my degree.
All my tasks were for the Cape York United Number One Claim. Given the size of the claim, it was interesting to observe how much work goes into making something like this work. I had the chance to be a part of a team of very dedicated lawyers and administrative staff who worked very hard towards the development of this claim. While I was there, I had the opportunity to attend a Constitutional Reform conference for recognition for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people which was organised by CYLC. It was a real eye opener for me as it was the first time I heard Traditional Owners’ concerns about their own land and people. I also had the opportunity to sit in a meeting with native title holders from a different town and listen to their concerns about how their land was being used without permits. These experiences were invaluable and personal, and has helped me understand native title issues on a deeper level.
Being based in Brisbane, I enjoyed the opportunity to visit Cairns for this internship. This placement has not only given me practical legal experience, but also placed me outside my comfort zone and challenged me in all aspects, which I believe has helped me develop my interpersonal skills.
The Aurora internship is a fantastic opportunity to work along with lawyers who are passionate about justice and the law. I have thoroughly enjoyed my time and work at CYLC and this experience will make me seriously consider this field as a future career prospect.