Claire Langenbach-Wood

Native Title
Summer 2018


Through the Aurora Internship Program I was placed at Yamatji Marlpa Aboriginal Corporation (YMAC), based at their Perth office. I was there for 6 weeks throughout November and December 2017. YMAC is a not for profit Native Title Representative Body. Through the work of their Aboriginal Board of Directors, anthropologists, lawyers, and archaeologists, as well as other staff, they represent Aboriginal groups in the Murchison - Gascoyne and Pilbara areas of Western Australia.

As a student in my final year of an Anthropology and Sociology degree, my primary reason for wanting to undertake an internship with Aurora was to see what it was really like to work as an anthropologist, and to get an idea of the sort of work I might want to go into in the Indigenous sector. I went into the internship with very little knowledge of native title, aside from some explanatory readings I had done. To be completely honest, I really had no idea of the role of anthropologists in native title, though I would quickly learn a lot about this.

In my time at YMAC I was placed under the supervision of a senior anthropologist. The work I did varied from day to day depending on who in the office needed my assistance, which meant that I had the opportunity to experience a variety of tasks. This gave me a broad picture of what work at a Native Title body is like. Some of these tasks included scanning ethnographic site files, entering information into a genealogy database, compiling genealogical information, and visiting the State Records Office of Western Australia to obtain copies of historic documents. The highlights of my internship included sitting in on a meeting with the YMAC heritage team, visiting the Federal Court and seeing how Native Title played out in a court proceeding, and learning the details of how to use the genealogy database at a two day course. All the staff at YMAC were very friendly and willing to share their knowledge and career experience with me, which helped to make my internship a really positive venture.

Having completed my internship I feel much more confident about entering the workforce, and have developed a greater understanding of where my degree can take me, and how I can use it to provide benefit to the Australian community. As a non-Indigenous Australian this internship also gave me a more practical understanding of how I can use the skills I have learnt at university to be an ally to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. I would recommend this internship to anyone who is passionate about giving back and learning how to apply their degree to real life experiences.