Isabella Dodd

Native Title
Summer 2018

I undertook an Aurora Internship at Queensland South Native Title Services (QSNTS) in Brisbane following numerous positive recommendations of the program from fellow university students. My experience was nothing but positive, eye opening and hugely interesting. The internship served to put into practice the knowledge and skills learnt throughout my university studies, and encouraged a greater understanding of the complexities of Native Title, and Indigenous Affairs more broadly. In addition to the experiences provided within this specific anthropological field of work, the internship allowed for the advancement of professional workplace skills and approaches, something not achievable within a university setting.

My experience at QNSTS allowed for an understanding of the day-to-day anthropological work undertaken by the researcher officers. I was given the opportunity to do numerous different tasks, giving me an overview of the required processes and activities for Native Title determinations. One of my main tasks was to produce a ‘snapshot’ or summary of a previously determined claim. This involved background reading and an identification of the issues, time frame and context in which the claim took place. This was a particularly useful task, as it allowed me to increase and expand my previously limited knowledge of the required anthropological and research aspects of a claim. This enabled me to read connections reports and various historical and genealogical reports that are submitted to the State. This showed the legal processes and the States requirements when pursuing a claim. In addition to this task, I spent time entering and analysing genealogical material, another crucial aspect of Native Title. This was an interesting task as it at times required analysing early colonial documents as well as material created throughout the 1900’s. While not all of this information is valid, it provides a good starting point, which can be built upon. The historical documents were very fascinating to read.

Other particularly interesting activities I experienced were sitting in on an applicant meeting, and attending an interview with some clients regarding a regional research project. These experiences displayed the practical implementation of the various anthropological methods and approaches taught at university, in addition to highlighting the politics involved in the process. Native Title is a highly emotional and political area, which was continuously revealed throughout my internship and displayed the complexity of working within such an environment.

The future direction that QSNTS will take and the additional tasks and activities they are required to take on with PBC’s following Native Title determinations was interesting to learn about. It broadened by understanding of the various tasks and directions that Native Title, as a relatively new area can be taken, and the necessary shifts that are required. All of the staff at QSNTS were friendly, welcoming, and supportive and were helpful in assisting my learning of required processes and procedures. I highly recommend undertaking an Aurora internship to provide not only knowledge within anthropology and Native Title/Indigenous Affairs, but also within a professional workplace and environment. I managed to improve my research skills, time management and organisational skills. The information I learned from QSNTS and their staff about Native Title law and processes was invaluable, reaffirming my interest in the field and opening up more areas of interest for me to look into. I will continue to study, and hopefully do future work, in this area.