Michelle O'Toole

Native Title
Winter 2013

I recently undertook an internship at Native Title Services Victoria (NTSV), facilitated by the Aurora Native Title Internship Program.  Due to personal circumstances the duration of my placement was necessarily short, and certainly shorter than I would've preferred, however my experience was a positive one and one I would recommend to others considering working in a stream of applied anthropology.

During my time at NTSV I worked on compiling the constituent chapters of a Traditional Owner Threshold Statement report and then formatting, proof reading, and copy editing it.  The report concerned proving connection to country for a central Victorian indigenous group.  Working on this document provided me with an opportunity to see and consider how anthropologists and historians present information in this stage of the native title process.  It was valuable to consider what information had been chosen and the method by which it was presented, keeping in mind that it may be read by a large and varied audience.

Another task I undertook was transcribing some field notes made by a well-known Australian anthropologist who had been engaged as a consultant some time ago to do research in a south-eastern area of Victoria.  It was fascinating for me to work with these notes because I was able to see how this experienced anthropologist takes notes in the field, what kind of information is recorded (and consider what may be absent), and think about the uses of this information in the native title process.

Aside from learning more about the process by which Indigenous Australians may seek to have their traditional rights recognised under the contemporary government, during my internship I also learned more about the history and geography of the State of Victoria.  The internship provided non-academic opportunities too, such as a chance to meet professionals working in the field (lawyers, historians, clerks, etc) and to experience a stream of applied anthropology.  As mentioned, my experience at NTSV was a positive one: I increased my understanding of the native title process, I learned more about the socio-political history and geography of Victoria, I gained insights into a stream of applied anthropology, and I also met some warm, friendly people who work hard to make a positive contribution to social justice.