Carolyn Ryland

Aboriginal Land Councils
Summer 2019


Article published on Grok.


I arrived into Broome with the expectation that it was going to be hot, after all it was the middle of the wet season and I had been warned that no one really visits Broome in the wet season. But nothing could prepare me for the hit of 80% humidity and instant sweat that greeted me hopping off the plane at Broome Airport. About a month before embarking on my journey up to Broome for a 5-week long Aurora internship at the Kimberley Land Council (KLC) I had completed my Bachelor of Laws at Curtin University with a passion for Native Title and Indigenous legal issues. My knowledge of Native Title was fairly limited so I thought that a trip to the Kimberley, a far north region rich in untouched landscapes, would be a good place to start. I was kept very busy in my first week at KLC meeting all the lawyers and other staff who were all extremely welcoming and friendly. During my internship I was very lucky to have gained experience in a diverse range of areas within the organisation. In my first week I assisted some of the lawyers in the claims unit with drafting submissions for the National Native Title Tribunal, drafting deeds of assignment, variation and heritage protection agreements, and learnt how the expedited procedure for future act matters worked. For the rest of my placement I was very involved in the Prescribed Bodies Corporate (PBC) unit where I was lucky enough to be working alongside very experienced lawyers who assigned me some challenging yet very rewarding tasks, including research on the recent Federal Court decision regarding the Timber Creek Native Title Compensation which is currently on appeal in the High Court.

One of my favourite experiences that will stick with me forever, was being taken out to a remote Indigenous community, with my supervisor, to speak with some Traditional Owners to gather evidence about their country. Hearing the stories of the Traditional Owners about being raised on country and how their traditions and culture are continued through generations was really eye opening. It was so important to them to ensure their traditional lands were protected as they have such a strong spiritual connection to them. It really drove home to me how hard they have had to fight to get their native title rights and interests recognised, and how hard they continue to fight to get these rights acknowledged by parties who want to come onto their land without permission from Traditional Owners. To say the least, my time at KLC was extremely rewarding and enriching. As a result of my placement, I came to realise how much work still needs to be done in this area to bring the standards of acknowledgement and recognition of land rights up to where it should be. It’s an area of law that I think would be extremely rewarding to work in and after my internship I would encourage any law students with a passion for Native Title to undertake an Aurora internship to experience something truly different and inspiring.  

An additional tip is that I was able to use this internship for my PLT hours through the College of Law. So, if you are also graduating and unsure of where you will be doing your hours, an Aurora internship would be a perfect option!