Chris Speldewinde

Native Title
Summer 2013

I am an anthropologist and I need to work in Australia as I have a young family who are very settled in their community in regional Victoria. When I first started down the path of becoming an anthropologist, particularly as a mature age student, my wife would regularly ask me ‘what are you going to do with this Anthropology stuff?’ More often than not, I could only provide her with an incoherent mumble amounting to nothing of substance.

So, fast forward to the present. Armed with an Arts degree and honours in Anthropology, as well as being two-thirds of the way through PhD candidature, I recently started to consider, ‘well, when the PhD is done, what’s next?’ A quick search of the better known employment search engines for ‘Anthropologists’ kept bringing up a similar issue. All the jobs seemed to be in native title and my undergraduate years had devoted basically no time to this area of work.
So where to from here? I was fortunate to gain a place on a 9 day intensive Masterclass at James Cook University that dealt with Native Title, a great starting point. Find out some background; learn some theory; hear from people working as Anthropologists in Native title what it’s like. One box ticked…

But, how do I get job experience (because how often do you see…experience in native title preferred)? How do I find out if I’m right for Native Title and Native Title is right for me? How can I get a foot in the door? That’s where the Aurora Internship steps up.

I was lucky enough over the summer of 2012/13 to gain an internship as part of the Aurora Native Title Internship Program at the Native Title Representative Body (NTRB), Native Title Services Victoria (NTSV) for the six weeks leading up to Christmas. During this time I had the opportunity to use the skills I’d gained through four years of undergraduate study and came away with a sense that, yes, I can do this Anthropology stuff. I got the chance to do research work on seminal Anthropological themes such as kinship and Indigenous culture whilst at the same supporting the Anthropologists at NTSV with editing and extracting data from reports that NTSV had commissioned. This was great as it allowed me to gain a sense of the work that Anthropologists do in the field, which, you aren’t going to get the chance to do as an undergraduate AND it gave me an insight into how an NTRB functions. It was really interesting stuff and gave me the confidence to want to pursue Anthropology as a career path.

Even more amazing was that Aurora contacted me to undertake a second internship straight after Christmas as the National Native Title Council (NNTC) needed help with a major research project they are developing . Again, lots of web-based research and clerical support in developing reports and marketing allowed me to test and apply the skills that I have. Of course, from a personal development perspective, another leg in a door that could lead to employment!
So, if you are like me and think that Anthropology is for you as a career option, a great place to start is through the Aurora Project ( as you have the chance to get into an organisation and make a valuable contribution to the work of Anthropologists and researchers who are in the field. The people from the Aurora Placements Team are extremely supportive of their interns through regular contact and are extremely approachable, and make this an enjoyable experience.