Anna-Lisa De Chiera

Social Science
Native Title
Winter 2012

The Aurora Project aims to build capacity in Australian Indigenous organisations and communities by providing training, professional development, internships, placements, scholarships and other services to support staff working at Native Title Representative Bodies (NTRBs) and at more than 60 other organisations working in the area of Indigenous affairs. The Aurora Native Title Internship Program offers unpaid 5 to 6 week placements to law, anthropology and social science students and graduates where they are given the opportunity to work in Indigenous corporations, government bodies, community groups, not-for-profit and policy organisations around Australia.

In this past university break I was fortunate enough to be placed as an intern at the Goldfields Land and Sea Council’s (GLSC) Perth office. GLSC is the Federal Government-appointed NTRB for the Goldfields-Esperance region and provides services such as native title, future acts, heritage protection and special projects.

As I study a double degree of Law/Arts (Community Development), I completed a range of work at the organisation that was both legal and social science related. My work included writing summaries of witness evidence from transcripts, drafting proofs of evidence, completing tenure analysis, reading anthropology reports, attending court with solicitors and court filing at the Federal Court.

One of my most rewarding experiences at GLSC was participating in the organisation’s cultural awareness seminar. The seminar covered topics such as Australian Aboriginal history, language and body language, kinship, law business and death and funerals. The seminar was a fantastic introduction into working in a cross-cultural setting and cultural awareness in everyday life.

During my internship I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to travel to GLSC’s Kalgoorlie office. This was a great chance for me to gain a better understanding of how the organisation’s workload is distributed over its two offices. Whilst in Kalgoorlie I was introduced to the GLSC Board of Directors and had many interesting discussions with the Kalgoorlie office staff members who include project officers, future act officers, anthropologists and a land management officer.

I have always thought of native title as an area that I may potentially like to work in and my placement at GLSC has only confirmed this further. Native title is a challenging, interesting and diverse field and I hope that my future career will open doors for me to work in the area again.

I came into the internship with an open mind and tried to have as few expectations as possible. I am so pleased to say that all expectations I did have were well and truly exceeded and I am leaving this experience with an expanded knowledge of native title, a better understanding of how an NTRB runs and having met some very dedicated, passionate and good hearted people who I feel very humbled to have had the opportunity to work for.
Whether you have an interest in working in native title or if you want to try a new potential career path with an Indigenous focus, I strongly encourage you to apply for an Aurora internship. You will gain a strong understanding of native title, policy development and social justice, complete diverse and interesting work, network with committed and hardworking people I am sure you will leave feeling as personally rewarded as I did.