Justin Chanlongsirichai

Native Title
Summer 2017

This summer I had the exciting opportunity to intern at Goldfields Land and Sea Council (GLSC) for four weeks as part of the Aurora Internship Program. GLSC is a Native Title Representative Body (NTRB), and assists Indigenous peoples in the Goldfields-Esperance area with all aspects of their native title claims. As a legal intern, I worked alongside GLSC’s legal team, which is based in their Perth office.

Before my internship, my knowledge of native title was minimal, and I simply had no idea of what working in native title meant. I quickly discovered how dynamic and fascinating an area of law it could be, and there was a fantastic team of lawyers, anthropologists, community liaison staff and business development staff I worked alongside with. This introduced me into a multi-disciplinary working environment, where I was able to witness the full scale of GLSC’s responsibilities. All of this highlighted for me the significance of the work that NTRBs do.

My tasks during the internship largely consisted of research memoranda. I was pleasantly surprised to learn about how my research necessitated exploring multiple areas of law, and how they related to the Native Title context. One task required me to analyse a recent Federal Court judgement, which overturned an authoritative interpretation of the Native Title Act 1993 that was heavily relied upon for registering Indigenous Land Use Agreements. This was a great way for me to learn about the implications that court judgements have upon the ability of native title claimants to make decisions regarding the access and usage of land.

I was also fortunate to get the opportunity to visit GLSC’s head office in Kalgoorlie. It was great to witness firsthand how the work of the staff at the Perth office supports the activities of the head office. I felt privileged conversing with some of the Kalgoorlie staff, who talked with great familiarity about the Indigenous communities GLSC represents. It was fantastic to hear about the emphasis GLSC places on having local Aboriginal peoples employed on country in a manner that contributes to their communities.

What I valued most about my time at GLSC was the immense support I received from everybody, especially at the Perth office. My co-workers were friendly and welcoming, and always happy to take the time to answer any questions I had. I also appreciated being able to join in on discussions regarding the policy implications of current native title legislation with the members of the legal team. All my contributions and efforts had the full support of my co-workers, and l felt that I was a valued member of the team.

Undertaking this internship has provided me with quality legal work experience, as well as a valuable insight into the importance of the native title system. I would highly recommend it to anybody. For more information about the Aurora Internship Program, go to http://auroraproject.com.au/what-aurora-internship.

Applications for the summer 2017/18 round of internships will be open in August (dates TBC).