Clare Duncanson

Native Title
Summer 2017

When I applied to the Aurora Internship Program I did not know what acceptance would entail, or even if I would enjoy the experience- I just knew that it was something I desperately wanted to try. I had a newly found passion for social justice and human rights. I did not know what area of law I wanted to practice, however I knew I wanted to practice in an area of law that would have a beneficial impact on those who often suffer at the hands of the legal system. Indigenous Australians are arguably the most unprivileged group in Australia, so I knew that any experience in this area would be invaluable. I was fortunate enough to be accepted and was shortly informed that I would be completing an internship with the Central Desert Native Title Service.

I cannot speak highly enough of the environment at Central Desert. They were supportive and I never felt scared to ask for help. They were happy to entertain me when I had general questions of native title and made me feel like I was a valuable part of their organization. On my first day they showed me around the office, gave me my own desk and gave me a set of documentaries to give me a better understanding of native title.

Over the five weeks I completed a number of diverse tasks. This includes, but is not limited to: detailed legal research and analysis, attending Federal Court for a hearing on a complex mining issue and interlocutory proceedings, completing letters of advice, documenting a table on complex tenure activities, preparation of court documents, recording minutes of group meetings and a variety of other tasks. This gave me valuable experience in a range of legal skills.  

However, in my opinion the most valuable lesson I learnt was the value of native title in Australia. Native title is a specific area of law that combines complex legal problems involving large companies and Aboriginal groups that have limited experience in the legal system. The lawyers that work for Central Desert are incredibly talented in their ability to be able to clearly communicate with both groups. The ability to communicate with these two groups should not be underestimated. This communication has allowed the social and economic growth of Indigenous people in Australia. I would consider myself very fortunate to develop these skills myself and hope to  work in native title one day.