Drew Rickard

Aboriginal Land Councils
Winter 2016

Aurora Internship Reflection

Over the past two and a half years of study I have been constantly seeking opportunities to take what I have learnt out into the world and engage with the community, and people in general. The Aurora Internship Program provides an excellent opportunity to do this, while working with experienced Anthropologists.

For five weeks over July and August, I was fortunate to be accepted into the internship program and placed at the North Queensland Land Council (NQLC), in Cairns. My first week involved a crash course in native title, reading a number of books and reports, as well as long and interesting discussions with the anthropologists and other staff. Just reading the connection reports provides a glimpse into yet another aspect of anthropology, that of consultant anthropologists, who through fieldwork and archival research compile a body of evidence to support claims. I soon learnt that the native title process is certainly not perfect, however there are many passionate people working hard to provide the best outcomes possible for Traditional Owners.

I was assigned a number of diverse tasks during my time. Predominantly, I was asked to research and summarise all available information on a particular group within a claim. The identity of this group was somewhat contested and this needed to be resolved. Other tasks included, data entry into the genealogical database. This program keeps a record of all the genealogies related to the native title claims handled by the NQLC. This is an important record in support of claims, and is also very important to individuals and groups as well. I was also asked to look into the antecedents of a person applying for membership to a certain group, and to do some research on a boundary dispute. One of the highlights for me was a day trip to a nearby Indigenous community. It was a wonderful experience and I met some great people. The land council anthropologists did an excellent job of informing the group on what stage they were up to in the process, as well as addressing any issues they had.

My time as an Aurora intern has provided valuable experience and insight into native title, while also allowing me to contribute to a busy organisation. Indigenous Australians face many issues. On a fundamental level, recognition as Traditional Owners and a space to practice traditional culture is crucial, however this involves a complex and often drawn out process. The value of anthropological work in this area is evident. There are very few disciplines equipped to work cross-culturally as well as move between disciplines and layers of government. I would encourage any students and graduates interested in this area, or after anthropological experience in general, to apply for the next round. For more information check out –

http://www.auroraproject.com.au/aurorainternshipprogram.  Applications for the summer 2016/17 round of internships are now open through 26 August.