Rani Donohue

Native Title
Summer 2015

For 5 weeks at the start of this year, I was fortunate enough to undertake an Aurora legal internship at the Native Title Representative Body (NTRB), Native Title Services Victoria (NTSV). NTSV assists Indigenous groups to make native title claims and facilitates sustainable native title outcomes over their traditional lands in Victoria. They also assist Indigenous groups to manage and benefit from these agreements and ensure that native title rights and interests are recognised and protected.

I had an amazing time at NTSV and learnt so much about native title claims. When I studied native title in property law, I hadn’t realised how much more is involved in managing native title claims and rights. Working at NTSV provided me with so many different experiences to allow me to gain a greater insight into the work that is involved with managing native title claims and agreements.

During my internship, I was exposed to numerous aspects of the work undertaken by NTSV. I conducted legal research, which ranged from researching the application of specific sections of the Native Title Act 1993 (Cth) and analysing whether certain acts can be done under specific legislation, to investigating limitation periods and reviewing mining licences over native title land.

A number of my tasks involved aspects relevant to native title that I had never considered before. One really interesting policy task involved drafting a funeral assistance policy for one of the native title groups. I was also required to draft a policy application form and a policy fact sheet to go out to all of the group members. I was informed by the lawyer I was working for that these documents were well received at the native title group’s board meeting, which was quite exciting!

As well as research and drafting, I undertook legal analysis and legislative interpretation tasks. I found this process really interesting, as I would utilise background information of a situation NTSV was managing and attempt to forecast how the relevant legislation and case law would deal with the current circumstances. It was satisfying understanding the practical implications of my findings and knowing my work would assist with actual cases.

I thoroughly enjoyed my time at NTSV and feel inspired by all of the dedicated staff and the work they do. I’m very appreciative of the incredibly friendly and welcoming staff and of their efforts in making my experience so interesting and worthwhile.