Helene Titeux

Native Title
Winter 2015

As part of the Aurora Internship Program, I worked at the Goldfields Land and Sea Council (GLSC) for six fascinating weeks during my winter holiday. The Program places students and graduates in the field of Law, Social Sciences and Anthropology in various host organisations working in native title and the broader Indigenous sector. (See: http://www.auroraproject.com.au)

I graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Sociology and Anthropology and I am currently finishing a Master’s degree in Urban Affairs in France. During my Bachelor’s degree I studied in Melbourne for a semester as an exchange student. There I took classes on the Australian Society and Indigenous Cultural Studies. When I went back home, I was a bit disappointed that I didn’t get a chance to volunteer in an organisation working in the field of Aboriginal affairs. I wanted to see what was done in Australia for Aboriginal people and how the Australian government deals with its Aboriginal population. For all those reasons I applied to the Aurora Internship Program.

I felt really lucky when I got a positive answer from the Aurora Placements team. I was placed at the GLSC in Perth where I worked as an Anthropology Research Intern. The GLCS is the principal voice for Aboriginal people from the Goldfields-Esperance region on matters to do with land and waters, governance, social and economic development, heritage and other matters of justice. The GLSC’s main office is based in Kalgoorlie (WA) – 700 km east to Perth. The Perth office is smaller with ten people working - mainly lawyers and anthropologists. The atmosphere is quite relaxed and everyone was really welcoming.

Working at the GLSC made understand a bit more what lawyers and anthropologists do for Aboriginal communities. My supervisor was the economic development officer. He introduced me to Aboriginal history in Australia, Native Title Act and land rights.

During my placement, my main task was to help my supervisor to make a cultural awareness video for a mining company. The task included to find and analyse existing contents published in heritage surveys about significant locations, sacred sites and research of historical materials kept in the State Library. It was captivating to have access to all this material.

I was very lucky to go on country twice during my placement. I went with my supervisor to assist him in a small field trip to film the traditional owners undertaking customary activities and talking about significant locations. We landed in Kalgoorlie an ex-mining town. Even though the gold mine is still operating the population in Kalgoorlie has dropped-off a lot since the gold rush. As we drove the four-wheel drive to meet traditional owners, I saw scenic landscapes with beautiful red dirt. It was an incredible experience to meet some local traditional owners and hear them talking about their language, history and customs. I felt privileged to talk with some local Traditional Owners about their country and visions for their future.

This internship was a real cultural experience and it made me realise how important conservation heritage is. I met very passionate people working to preserve the language and culture of Aboriginal communities in order to pass on this knowledge to future generations

Thanks to my supervisor and this internship I now have a better understanding of Aboriginal issues in Western Australia; native title Act & PBC’s; and research methods skills in Anthropology. I feel that I gained a relevant knowledge in the field of Aboriginal affairs.

I am truly thankful to supervisor for his support, great tips, kindness and our interesting conversations during those amazing six weeks. I would like to thank also the Aurora Placements team for answering to my questions through the application process and for being a great support.