Camille Tanner

Social Science
Native Title
Summer 2012

Students of Law, Anthropology and some Social Sciences (namely Archaeology, Cultureal Heritage, Environmental Management, Human Geography, History and Scociology) who might be considering entering an internship program would do well to apply through the Aurora Native Title Internship Program. The program arranges 5 to 6 week unpaid inetrnships with Native Title Representative Bodies (NTRBs) as well as with various organisations working in policy development, social justice and human rights, all with an Indigenous focus, throughout Australia for the aforementioned disciplines. Personally, I have found the experience more than rewarding. In the midst of completing my Honours year majoring in Archaeology, one of my lecturers brought the Aurora Project to my attention. Realising that not that many archaeologists are directly employed by Native Title Representative Bodies (NRTBs), I believed that the placement would instead offer an opportunity to make contacts within an Indigenous organisation which may then lead to contacts within the heritage consultancy arena – currently a major employment sector for archaeologists.

After my application was accepted, I received notification of my internship location, and was delighted to hear it was with the Kimberley Land Council (KLC) in Broome, Western Australia. Having lived in Broome years earlier, I had a fair idea what to expect. Even if I had not, the team at Aurora have a comprehensive preparation package that helps any intern with wherever they might be placed. The first few weeks at the KLC opened my eyes at how the native title system works on the ground, a multi-faceted and continuous process, with dedicated staff that are committed to delivering the best outcomes possible.

My supervisor was the Senior Anthropologist with the KLC. Although an anthropologist herself, my supervisor had a good understanding of what employment for archaeologists in the Indigenous sector encompassed and she was a great source of knowledge, having worked in other states and regions. My supervisor pointed me towards some background reading that gave me not only an overview of the recent history in the Kimberley but also some reports that had been prepared by archaeologists for the KLC which demonstrated to me what is required as a professional archaeologist. Due to her guidance, I went in a total novice but soon began to recognise how anthropologists and archaeologists are an integral component in the initial stages of a native title claim, and how the anthropologist's expertise is crucial in the long term, especially in regards to the complexity that is genealogy. Over the six weeks that I was placed with the KLC the highlight came towards the end of my tenure. After working with one of the lawyers on the first stages of a new claim for weeks in the office, I was able to travel with the KLC team to Fitzroy Crossing to meet with the principal claimants to advise them how their case would be structured and presented to the Native Title Tribunal. The staff at KLC had previously all told me that meeting with the traditional owners on country was the most rewarding part of their work, and after my experience at Fitzroy Crossing, I totally understood what they had meant. Those three days left an enduring impression on me, and I feel privileged to have played even a small part in that application.

I would like to publically acknowledge my gratitude to the Kimberley Land Council for their commitment in supporting the Aurora internship program. The KLC takes on a number of interns each year and makes a concerted effort to integrate them into the organisation. I found all the staff at the KLC, not only my supervisor, very welcoming and supportive and I feel indebted to them, as not all Native Title Representative Bodies receive interns. I would urge students and recent graduates to apply for the Aurora internship program to ensure that the Project and NTRBs continue to foster such rewarding opportunities.