Laura Tolson

Native Title
Summer 2013

The 10th December 2012 marked the 20th anniversary of Paul Keating’s ‘Redfern speech’ which is still considered one of the most important addresses in Australia’s history. In his landmark speech,Prime Minister Keating acknowledged the dispossession, discrimination and exclusion suffered by Indigenous Australians following European settlement. Then, on February 13 2008, Kevin Rudd stood before a packed Parliament with the nation watching to reflect and apologise for the pain, suffering and hurt of the stolen generations and the mistreatment of Indigenous Australians. And now, in 2013 we have seen the first steps towards Constitutional Recognition for our first peoples with the passing of theAboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples Recognition Bill2013 (Cth), intended to give momentum to the campaign by inclusion of a sunset provision of two years. It really is a very exciting time to be involved in the Indigenous sector and to see firsthand the passion, dedication and commitment of so many people determined to improve the prospects of Indigenous Australians.

Over the 2012/13 summer break I interned with two Indigenous organisations, facilitated through The Aurora Native Title Internship Program which has been established to address the professional development needs of the Indigenous sector throughout Australia. By facilitating the placement of interns in the areas of law, anthropology and other social sciences, The Aurora Internship Program matches capable students and graduates looking for experience, with organisations in need of assistance; a marriage of necessity, mutual benefit and a shared vision for Indigenous Australians.

Almost immediately after my final Semester 2 exam I boarded a plane to Sydney to intern at NTSCORP, the Native Title Service Provider (NTSP) of NSW and the ACT. NTSCORP is funded to carry out the functions of a Native Title Representative Body (NTRB) which includes providing assistance to Indigenous peoples who wish to exercise their rights under the Native Title Act 1993 (Cth). During this internship I conducted independent legal research, drafted legal documents such as affidavits and memorandum of understandings, and various other tasks around the office to assist with what was a very busy period.

After five weeks at NTSCORP I enjoyed a three week break before commencing my second Aurora internship at the National Centre of Indigenous Excellence (NCIE), also in Sydney. The NCIE’s vision is to improve the well-being of young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples while building a better nation for all Australians. The NCIE has become a hub of Indigenous programs which all encourage young people to be healthy, happy and achieve their goals. This was a particularly interesting period as many of the staff at NCIE travelled to Canberra for the introduction of the bill to recognise Indigenous Australians in the constitution and the CEO, Jason Glanville presented at the National Press Club on the same day.

After 11 weeks of interning at Indigenous organisations, I have come away with a sense of encouragement and empowerment. I would certainly recommend an Aurora Internship to anyone interested in Indigenous Affairs.