Lisa Accadia

Native Title
Winter 2011

Almost graduated and need some Direction? Internships are a great place to start!

As I neared the end of my Honours degree in anthropology I was still relatively unsure as to which direction to take next, that was of course until I heard about the Aurora Project from a fellow student.

The Aurora Project is an enterprise that aims to strengthen and support the work of Australian Indigenous organisations with a considerable focus on Native Title Representative Bodies (NTRBs) and Native Title Service Providers (NTSPs). One of the ways it does this is through a short-term internship program. The Aurora Native Title Internship Program places students, or recent graduates, in the fields of anthropology, law, and some social sciences, within these often under resourced organisations where they provide both much needed support and gain valuable working experience. Although internships only last between 5-6 weeks, it is not uncommon for interns to also gain employment within their host organisation. With no PhD and no experience working as an anthropologist outside of the academy the internship proved a great way for me to gain practical working experience in my area of study.

I applied for the recent winter internship round under the anthropology stream and was fortunate enough to be placed at Yamatji Marlpa Aboriginal Corporation (YMAC) based in Perth. YMAC is a large NTRB who specialise in anthropological and legal research to assist native title claims as well as providing services for heritage protection and land use agreements. Having had limited knowledge of what goes on in the native title process before starting, I found being at YMAC a very rewarding learning experience.

Some of the tasks I was asked to undertake included editing connection reports, archiving digital research material and transcribing anthropological fieldnotes. I was also fortunate enough to be sent up to Port Hedland for a week and partake in a heritage survey with one of the anthropologists. The experience allowed me to gain a firsthand understanding of how anthropologists carry out their research within the spheres of heritage protection and native title.

By gaining so much exposure to the various elements of the native title process and being able to speak openly with members of the organisation, I felt as though I had undertaken a six week intensive learning course on Indigenous affairs. The things I have learnt will be invaluable as I now move forward in my future career pathways. So if you are an anthropology, law, or other social science student with an interest in Indigenous affairs, native title, social justice and human rights, I highly recommend considering an Aurora internship for your next semester break. The Aurora website provides all the information you need to complete an application and is filled with some great background reading and other resources.