Annemarie van der Meer

Native Title
Winter 2017

After having graduated from a Dutch university with a bachelor’s degree in Cultural Anthropology and Development Sociology I decided to move to Melbourne for ten months. Ever since I started studying, I have been interested in (learning about) Indigenous affairs in various post-colonial countries. Whilst in Australia, I really wanted to do something study-related besides working and travelling. Therefore, I am very grateful for the opportunity to have been an Aurora research intern at Native Title Services Victoria (NTSV) during the winter round 2017, and I highly recommend an internship through the Aurora Internship Program.

At NTSV I was warmly welcomed by the dedicated staff members and I immediately felt comfortable within the work environment. My supervisor and the other anthropologist and historians assigning me with tasks were very helpful, approachable and friendly. Though instructions were mostly very clear and there was always room to ask questions, the staff at NTSV often provided us interns with the flexibility to use our own problem-solving abilities. Another positive aspect of my internship was the collaboration with my NTSV co-intern. We got the opportunity to work on several tasks together, whether at the same time or swapping them at times. This kept both of us clear-headed and gave us the chance to ask each other for advice and help and complement each other’s work and thoughts.

The biggest task I and my fellow intern were assigned involved assisting one of the NTSV anthropologists with genealogical research for one of the Traditional Owner groups in Victoria. This included going through some lengthy source documents in order to identify the original ancestors and trace their lines of descendants. I found it interesting to wrap my head around this, and I enjoyed gaining an understanding of the family composition and interrelationship between the different family lines. This task appealed to my strong eye for detail, and I enjoyed the challenge of learning how to cope with integrating information from various large and complex documentary sources. It is rewarding to know that the work we did is going to be helpful in the research behind a claim. Furthermore, the historical aspects of the tasks have broadened my (anthropological) horizon. Besides this, I was privileged to gain insights into the personal stories of Aboriginal people and their experience of ‘white fellas’ taking over through transcribing an interview conducted by one of the NTSV anthropologists. This made me even more aware of (post-) colonial processes and the implications they have on individual human lives and whole communities as well as the importance of Aboriginal’s connection to country.

All in all the internship has been a very instructive learning-experience. It has, moreover, been a very unique and enriching experience for me personally, since back home we do not have organisations like NTSV or an Indigenous population at all. Therefore, it has been very valuable to me to be able to work in and make a little contribution to the field, having used and expanded my skill-set at the same time. I now have a broader understanding of native title and Australian Indigenous affairs and this will be so useful in my further academic studies. I would definitely suggest an Aurora Internship to anyone with similar interests.