Henry Storey

Social Science
Native Title
Summer 2017

To complement my Bachelor of Arts Degree, I thought that it would useful to gain some  work experience. I have always been interested in Indigenous affairs, so the Aurora Internship Program was an obvious choice for me. After submitting an application and attending a face to face interview, I was thrilled to be accepted into the Aurora pProgram. Eventually, I found out that I was to be placed with the Research unit at Native Title Services Victoria (NTSV) in North Melbourne.

NTSV is essentially a government-funded legal firm whose task is to assist Victorian Traditional Owners in their pursuit of land rights. NTSV has three primary, complementary departments, legal, research and policy and development. It is the job of the historians and anthropologists to compile the relevant evidence for land claims, whilst the lawyers work with Traditional Owners in the actual mediation process. The policy and development team work with Traditional Owners, government and other stakeholders to actualise and enhance beneficial outcomes from native title settlements. Because of this, NTSV is a dynamic and diverse workplace, where interns have the opportunity to work with people possessing expert knowledge in a wide variety of fields.

During my five week internship, I was kept busy with a variety of challenging and interesting tasks. By far the most interesting tasks were the two research reports which I completed. Both of these reports focused on how Indigenous people adapted to the post-contact world culturally and economically, whilst maintaining a distinct identity and traditions. Other tasks I completed included conducting research on the Trove database and visiting two different archives in the city. I was also tasked with completing a map of an area relevant to a future land claim, as well as sorting through masses of primary and secondary source literature to find salient information.

These tasks proved to be extremely rewarding in a number of ways. Not only did they deeply enrich my knowledge of Victorian Aboriginal history, but they also taught me new research, report writing, analytical and computer skills. I also learnt the importance of finding a balance between taking the initiative and asking for the assistance of my supervisors in a professional environment. 

In light of aIl of this, I would strongly recommend an Aurora internship, particularly a placement at NTSV, to anyone who is interested in native title and  Indigenous affairs. Not only do you get to learn new skills and put into practice some of the skills learnt at University, but you get to work alongside highly qualified people who are all committed to achieving justice for Aboriginal people. More broadly, Aurora offers internships to anthropology and legal students, as well as to social science students and graduates. It is also possible to undertake internships at various locations around the country, in both summer and winter. The internship is well worth the time and effort required and may provide the groundwork for a future career.