Ashleigh Rodgers

Summer 2014

In November 2013, I was given the amazing opportunity by The Aurora Project to undertake a Native Title Internship at the National Native Tile Council (‘NNTC’) in Melbourne. The NNTC was established in 2005 as the peak representative body for the Native Title Representative Bodies (NTRBs) and Native Title Service Providers (NTSPs) around Australia. As a representative body, NNTC promotes the rights and interests of Traditional Owners throughout Australia and represents the interests of NTRB/NTSPs at the regional, national and international levels. The functions of the NNTC include acting as the representative of the various NTRB/NTSPs at national and international forums and works with Governments, organisations and communities on the improvement of native title through policy development and legislative reform.

The NNTC consists of a full time CEO, who is based in Melbourne, and a part time Senior Administrative Officer, based in Perth. Due to the small number of staff and there locations, the NNTC office is placed within the Native Title Services Victoria (NTSV) in North Melbourne. Therefore, I would be based in North Melbourne for the duration of the 6 week internship. This was great as the CEO was required to travel interstate for conventions and forums regularly; therefore I was constantly surrounded by the friendly NTSV staff and other Aurora interns.

As NNTC is largely a policy body representing various NTRB/NTSPs across the nation, my tasks included:

Writing a review of submissions to the Review of Native Title Organisations
Attending meetings
Drafting a submission
Helping with the preparation of a side event being presented by the Kimberly Land Council and NNTC at the United Nations Permanent Forum of Indigenous Issues in New York next year
Legal research.

My first two days with NNTC was a great opener into the work done by the various native title organisations across the country as I was able to attend the NTRB/NTSP Chief Executive Officers and Senior Professional Officer’s Forum. This was an amazing opportunity to meet all of the different NTRB/NTSPs from across Australia and to learn what is happening in each State regarding native title. During the two day meeting I was able to develop my understanding of the work of NTRB/NTSPs, the challenges faced in the different regions and how complex and political native title is.

A highlight of my internship at NNTC was attending the native title settlement celebration of the Dja Dja Wurrung people, in Bendigo. This day was not only a major achievement for everyone involved in the settlement but a significant historic event for the Dja Dja Wurrung people and the first settlement of its kind under the Traditional Owner Settlement Act 2010 (Vic).

Before applying for the Aurora Native Title Internship Program I was very passionate and interested in Indigenous affairs, human rights and specifically native title through my Law subjects. I would highly recommend applying for an Aurora Internship at NNTC. The internship with NNTC was an unbelievable experience that has given me the chance to increase my knowledge and passion to pursue a career in native title as well as connected me to many people working within the native title area. Further information on the Internship Program and native title can be found at  Applications for the winter 2014 round of internships will be open from 3rd through 28th March 2014 on-line via their website.