Katie McGlinn

Native Title
Summer 2014

At the close of 2013 I was given an amazing opportunity to undertaken a legal internship organised through the Aurora Native Title Internship Program, which aims to promote the entering of young lawyers, anthropologists, archaeologists and social scientists into the field of native title and Indigenous affairs in general. I was placed by Aurora at Yamatji Marlpa Aboriginal Corporation’s (YMAC) Perth office. This corporation represents Indigenous claimants in the Murchison, Gascoyne and Pilbara regions of Western Australia.

During my 4 weeks at YMAC, I was granted the opportunity to undertake a wide variety of tasks. In my first week I attended a variety of interesting inductions, explaining the inner workings of the organisation and the functions of each department. I also was given a fascinating case law research to undertake, and additionally tasked with identifying and analysing heritage agreement for a particular claimant group. I also had the opportunity to attend numerous meetings between the staff members of the different fields; social science, anthropology and legal. I was further invited to attend an Introductory Workshop to Petroleum Exploration and Production in WA. These tasks, meetings and workshops were very interesting, enlightening, and broadened my knowledge base.

In my second week, I was able to conduct further case law research and question based research, and also extracted essential and valuable information from agreements made between parties involved in native title disputes. Furthermore, I had the opportunity to attend court on two occasions. I found this interesting and very useful from a practical perspective.

In my third and fourth weeks I was tasked with contributing research for a High Court case, and research associated with the review of various mining tenements. Lastly, I was able to draft a wide variety of legal opinions and analyse various case notes, which also included identifying a series of interesting events in order to create a timeline.

Overall, I had the opportunity to undertake a great amount work which was exceptionally varied and practical, with each week bringing new challenges, expanding upon the knowledge I gained from the past week. Each task was different from the last, and highly interesting, ensuring that there was not a dull moment in my four weeks.

Whilst I was at YMAC I met a diverse group of people. Such people included Indigenous people, fellow interns from around the country and different universities, and permanent staff members with experience ranging from a few months to a few years. This amazing group of people came from differing backgrounds including social science, finance, legal, human resources and anthropology, each one providing more knowledge that compliments the other. They are all so different yet work to achieve the greater goal; giving Indigenous people a voice in native title claims. They were exceptionally friendly and welcoming, constantly including me in conversations, meetings and inviting me to participate in sporting activities undertaken during their lunch break, making my transition into the office smooth and easy. Their amazing attitudes and friendliness made going into the office every day far more enjoyable, always managing to put a smile on my face. They provided me with so much knowledge in regards to the field of native title law, and made the experience one that I will never forget.   

It is because of such incredible people and the amazing practical experience gained that I wouldrecommend the Aurora Native Title Internship Program to other students or graduates. It is truly an exceptional opportunity and a fantastic learning experience, one that has definitely exceeded my expectations and been thoroughly rewarding.  Applications for the winter 2014 program open from the 3rd of March through 28thMarch online via their website. Students currently studying, or have graduated in areas of law, anthropology and/or social science are eligible to apply.