Spending five weeks at Yamatji Marlpa Aboriginal Corporation in Perth WA
proved to be an invaluable opportunity and memorable experience. The strength of
the Aurora internship program is the introduction it provides into the workings of
native title and the associated representative organisations. The program enables
interns to not only witness the nature of native title work but also the opportunity
to experience it first hand.
As a history/archaeology graduate with a particular interest in native title the
Aurora program was exactly the kind of experience I was hoping to gain before
entering into the workforce. My placement provided an insight into heritage
research, a chance to contribute in the presentation of anthropological reports and
participation in meetings that occur between Native Title claimants, their lawyers
and mining companies.
In this environment Interns are exposed to the work of legal and social science
practitioners as well as involvement with traditional owners and native title
claimants. I think this is the most significant aspect of the Aurora internship, the
chance and privilege to meet and work with the Indigenous community. This is the
experience of the internship program that students are most likely to benefit. I
believe engaging with the community is something better experienced rather than
The internship also provides a real context in which years of study can be applied,
particularly in the sense of working towards a specific goal or desired outcome. For
me this the most rewarding experience of being an Aurora intern - to realise that
despite the difficulty and complexity of the native title process there is progress and
opportunities for change.
Prior to commencing my internship I had completed a thesis investigating native
title in Victoria and was quite content with the possibility of a placement within a
Victorian NTRB. As it turned out I received a placement in Perth which was a much
more rewarding and fulfilling experience as I learnt so much about the nature of
native title in Western Australia and the difference in heritage legislation. In
addition, the huge area of land under claim in comparison to Victoria was amazing
and the involvement and power wielded by mining companies was eye-opening.
Overall, the Aurora internship genuinely equips students with the workings of native
title and exposes them to it in a way that can really assist in clarifying and
exploring career directions. Interns who have the fortunate opportunity to work for
a Native Title Representative Body will no doubt benefit from the experience and
gain valuable insight into a system that is increasingly inter-disciplinary and
relevant to the future of Indigenous communities.
I am truly appreciative of the opportunities I was provided during my time at
Yamatji Marlpa Aboriginal Corporation and would recommend the internship
program to anyone interested in working in the field of native title and/or Aboriginal
heritage and culture.