I applied for the Aurora Native Title Internship Program with little knowledge of the range of organisations or the possibilities available in native title to those starting out, but hoping to learn, to discover and to perhaps uncover a career direction. Looking back after an amazing six weeks, I can say that I have got more out of the process than I could have ever imagined!
I accepted a placement via the internship program at the Native Title Representative Body (NTRB), Queensland South Native Title Services (QSNTS) in Brisbane, a city I had never visited but was excited to see, and set off to try my hand at whatever it was they would want me to do. In following the advice given by the Aurora placements team to all interns, I arrived at the office with few preconceived ideas or expectations but excited to have the chance to gain some experience in a workplace setting and put to use some of the skills and knowledge I had built at University. After recently graduating with a Bachelor of Social Sciences with a major in Anthropology, I was still unsure where to go next and was looking forward to the opportunity at hand.
My time at QSNTS turned out to be extremely interesting and I was fortunate to be involved in a wide variety of tasks and entrusted to work on some significant and integral processes. I was able to get involved in and assist with duties relating to several current native title claims, and throughout those gain an understanding of the differing stages each claim goes through from registration, authorisation, collection of and reporting on connection material to the State, correspondence and meeting with applicants, and other various processes involved in reaching a determination.
I was able to experience the types of work that a Researcher in an NTRB undertakes and gain a real understanding of the importance of Anthropology in the complex native title process. My awareness was strengthened in relation to the specific details through which Aboriginal people must prove their rights and interests to land and a continuing connection with that land, in order to satisfy native title requirements, while working alongside researchers, lawyers and consultant anthropologists. During my placement I was responsible for renaming and transferring documents and reference material into the new data management system and cataloguing the reference library in the office. I was able to assist with drafting tables and collating oral testimonies for the connection report, create a genealogy of an apical ancestor using Family Tree Maker, and assist with drafting the Form 1 for one particular native title claim. I also was fortunate to have the opportunity to accompany the claim management team of another current claim, and to help organise and facilitate an Applicant meeting, information session and large Authorisation meeting. The chance to see firsthand the interactions and proceedings at these meetings have certainly enhanced my learning experience and I am grateful for that opportunity.
My time at QSNTS and the experience gained has strengthened my passion and desire to contribute to work that will benefit Aboriginal people, and I foresee a career in Native Title as a rewarding and exciting opportunity. The Aurora internship program has provided an excellent chance to get some hands-on experience and gain a real understanding of the roles and responsibilities involved in a workplace dealing with the important issues and complexities that encase native title. For anyone considering doing an internship through Aurora, I would certainly recommend it! If you are finished or nearing the end of your degree in Anthropology, other Social Science or Law, why not check out the next intake round and give it your best shot!