Caroline Beasley

Native Title
Winter 2016

After graduating from Arts/Law at ANU in mid-2016, I swapped the icy Canberra winter for the tropical climate of Broome when I completed an Aurora Internship at the Kimberley Land Council (KLC).

I was really excited about my placement at the KLC. I had undertaken some previous internships in the Indigenous community legal sector, but my exposure to native title was limited to a few minutes in a Property Law lecture in fifth year. Many of my peers had participated in the Aurora Internship Program at NTRBs and PBCs in the past and spoke very highly of their experiences.

From day one of my internship I was exposed to the immense detail and complexity of native title. I started working on a research memo about the distinction between rights identified through the claim process and in native title determinations, and the purpose for which those rights are exercised. The legal team at the KLC are also in the middle of Federal Court litigation in relation to the Middle Dampier Peninsula native title claim. Work in relation to this litigation comprised the bulk of the tasks I completed during my internship, which ranged from collating information from all the witness statements and transcripts in relation to apical ancestors, reviewing transcripts of recordings and analysing various parts of the expert evidence in preparation for that evidence to be led in court in the final week of my internship.

In addition to attending three days of court in Broome, I was also fortunate enough during my internship to go on two trips with the KLC. One to Fitzroy Crossing for a presentation at the PBC meeting being held there, and one to the KLC AGM which was held at Warmun in the East Kimberley over a week. The presentation done in Fitzroy was in relation to the environmental management of the Fitzroy River. The KLC AGM was a really great opportunity to see more of the Kimberley and learn more about what the KLC and other organisations are doing in this area. I also really loved meeting a range of different people and learning about their passion for the Kimberley. I feel really fortunate to have had an opportunity to work on the current litigation, and also to see other facets of the work done by the KLC during the two trips.  

In assessing the highlights of this internship it is important not to overlook the value of the experience of living for an extended period in a different place. In this regard I loved being able to go for post-work walks on Cable Beach and spontaneous activities that are organised on the infamous “Broome time” including camping trips and afternoon drinks.

My Aurora internship was a fantastic way to see more of Australia, and on an individual level, experience an alternative pathway in law.