Sharon Ahmer

Winter 2019


My Aurora internship at the Agreements, Treaties and Negotiated Settlements (ATNS) Project has been a wonderful experience. I have learnt a lot about the range of agreements that First Nations people make with other entities and also about the network of organisations that support Traditional Owners’ community development. I am sure that the research and legal skills that I have developed here will assist me in the future and I would encourage anyone interested in contributing whilst learning to consider an internship at ATNS.

The ATNS Project consists of a small team within the Indigenous Studies Unit (ISU) of the University of Melbourne’s School of Population and Global Health. Very sweetly, the research fellows within the ISU were as welcoming as the ATNS team were and it was incredibly interesting to hear about the different projects that they are involved with.

The ATNS team itself is responsible for maintaining a database of agreements made between indigenous people and others, both here and overseas. The team aims to provide Native Title professionals, agreement makers and policy makers with easily accessible good quality summary information.  There is a wealth of agreements made across land usage, resources, health, education and research that when catalogued illustrates the breadth of engagement that indigenous people have with other polities. My tasks at the ATNS included summarising agreements listed on the National Native Title Tribunal website, specifically court determinations and Indigenous Land Use Agreements (ILUAs). This was supplemented by any other information I could gather from media publications. Then, following the Database Procedures Manual instructions, I uploaded the summary onto the database ready for proofing. My supervisor supported me as I learnt the ropes, reviewing my work, offering suggestions and giving me the confidence to progress independently. I came to understand that my contribution over four weeks, though small, was valued. Some days my time overlapped with another Aurora intern’s and it was good to discuss the tasks together.  

I also enjoyed assisting the team with early stage research for a major update of the ATNS website, which is a very exciting prospect, and I was lucky enough to be present for a meeting with website developers and the Head of the ISU, Professor Marcia Langton AM.  My research for the update involved discovering what best practice for website user experience is. This is an area that I had never properly considered but which I found interesting and which will build on my professional capabilities. The ATNS website update makes this an unusually exciting and rewarding time to be an intern with ATNS.

ATNS is located on Gratten Street, right between the University’s Law School and the beautiful main Parkville campus. Carlton’s restaurants are just a stroll away.

I highly recommend undertaking an Aurora internship at the ATNS as an opportunity to make a real and valued contribution, to improve your professional capabilities and to learn about the work that is being carried out in the indigenous sector.