Darcy Harwood

Native Title
Winter 2017

The Aurora Internship Program was an incredible opportunity which cemented my passion for social justice and opened my eyes to a potential career in Indigenous Law. For five weeks over the winter holidays I interned at Central Desert Native Title Services in Perth. Central Desert is a Native Title Representative Body with the primary function of protecting and advancing the native title rights and interests of Indigenous Australians. This includes assisting native title claimants in having their native title rights recognised by the Australian legal system. 


Throughout my time at Central Desert I undertook a wide variety of tasks which increasingly developed my knowledge in native title and legal skills. This included writing case notes on recent native title decisions, conducting research on mining companies and their current projects to assist in land use agreements and negotiations, drafting correspondence, recording minutes of meetings and transcribing numerous client interviews. For the duration of my placement I also prepared a detailed position paper on alternative reforms to Indigenous land tenure in WA. I was also fortunate to attend Federal Court on numerous occasions, witnessing the Yindjibarndi decision being handed down which has significant consequences for FMG’s Solomon Mine Site. The cheers inside the court room from the claimants emphasised just how important native title is. While my understanding of native title was minimal at the beginning of the placement, I walked away with a specialised and in-depth knowledge in a dynamic and complex area of law.


The environment and staff at Central Desert were amazing. They were so welcoming and I always felt comfortable to ask for further guidance. From the first day of my placement I felt like I was a valuable member of the team at Central Desert. 


The Aurora Internship Program is a great opportunity to gain legal experience prior to the clerkship application period rolling around. I would highly recommend the Program to anyone interested in human rights or Indigenous law given the limited opportunity to gain experience in such sectors in Perth. The work of native title bodies such as Central Desert is incredibly important and the opportunity to have contributed to that work through the Aurora Internship Program is one that will resonate with me into the future. If you are interested in applying for the winter 2018 round for the Aurora Internship Program just head here http://auroraproject.com.au/about-internship-program.  Applications will open in March 2018.