In July of 2017, I was given the opportunity to be part of The Aurora Internship Program. Aurora places a range of students and graduates from different disciplines with Indigenous sector host organisations that may lack staff or funding. My placement was with the Western Desert Lands Aboriginal Corporation (WDLAC) under the Yamatji Marlpa Aboriginal Corporation (YMAC). WDLAC represents the Martu people, who are actually twelve separate language groups, who together made one native title claim. The area occupies a large part of the Pilbara; currently 136 000km2 is recognised as exclusively belonging to Martu people.
During my time at WDLAC, I began archiving many of their files, from both Central and Western Desert, as the Corporation had recently moved. A lot of what needed to be scanned was the original copies of agreements and communication between different mining companies and WDLAC, which will definitely be needed in the future. A lot of the mining tenements are still being decided on or exist today, so it is vital that an online record is maintained for the Martu.
I also in my time at WDLAC had the chance to visit the Federal Circuit Court, and see a native title dispute over competing groups who both laid claim to the same area. It was interesting to see how these matters play out, and how it can affect claim groups. We also had a mock trial during my time at WDLAC, where anthropologists were coached on giving evidence in court, and how to deal with cross examinations. This was a really interesting experience, as it combined both of my degrees in one session.
I would really recommend applying for an internship through Aurora, as it gives invaluable experience in the Indigenous sector. The other interns as well as the people I met at both WDLAC and YMAC were friendly and supportive, and made me feel very welcome during my time there. This internship has increased my interest in the area of native title, and is definitely an area I would like to work in in the future.