Sarah Rice

Native Title
Summer 2013

I have recently undertaken a six week internship at Central Desert Native Title Services, where I was placed through The Aurora Native Title Internship Program. I would highly recommend this program to any law students and graduates, as I found it an enriching and enjoyable experience. During the time I was working at Central Desert, I was assigned a number of tasks, including the drafting of legal correspondence, an employment contract and court submissions; legal research; taking minutes at informal negotiations; attending court facilitated case management conferences, hearings and other meeting with native title claimants, pastoralists, mining companies, the Commonwealth and the State. The work that I undertook in the course of my internship was as varied as it was engaging, and the broad scope of the tasks made for interesting days while providing me with insight into the many facets of native title law. My experience was further enhanced by the welcoming and knowledgeable staff at Central Desert.

Also, as a part of the internship I was able to visit a remote Indigenous community in central Western Australia, to attend a meeting with the Native Title Claimants. This was a fantastic experience; I was able to see a beautiful landscape and interact with a community that I may not otherwise have had the opportunity to meet.

Since returning to uni after the internship, I find that I am more aware of the intricacies of the legal system and processes particularly in the Federal Court. I also have a better understanding of how parties interact, both in negotiations and during litigation. This is particularly noticeable in the Commercial Practice and Procedure Units, where, because of my exposure to court practices and legal documents as well as being able to participate in the drafting of documents, I have some insight into how what I am learning about is applied in practice.

 Furthermore, I would recommend an Aurora Internship for any students who are interested in Indigenous issues. My time at Central Desert has fostered my interest in native title, which is an area of law I wanted to know more about. I think it is beneficial for me, and any other student, to gain an awareness of such niche areas of law to expand any considerations of career paths. Native title is an interesting body of law academically, and working in the field allows for interaction with co-workers who are archaeologists, linguists, anthropologists, rangers and land management workers, while being able to go on trips to remote and beautiful parts of the State. I have enjoyed my experience at Central Desert and as a result would definitely consider this area of law to practise in the future.

I would therefore encourage any law student to apply for an internship through Aurora. I found the work interesting and challenging. The experience has broadened my understandings of many aspects of law and has as a result contributed to my studies at university as well.
Furthermore, Aurora placements are available throughout Australia, so there is an opportunity to be placed in a different city or regional area. The Aurora placements team provide support throughout the placement and provide resources including a Handbook to assist you with some background knowledge of native title Law.