I completed an Aurora Native Title Internship in the Strategic Development Unit of NTSCORP Limited (NTSCORP) from Monday 2 July to Friday 27 July 2018. NTSCORP has statutory responsibilities under the Native Title Act 1993 (Cth) (NTA) to protect the native title rights and interests of Traditional Owners in New South Wales and the Australian Capital Territory. Amongst other things, the Strategic Development Unit primarily deals with all of the issues that arise as a result of the native title process. They work to enforce the Future Acts regime in the NTA, liaise with and lobby regarding policy, and more generally work with Traditional Owners to ensure that they are afforded their procedural rights under the NTA (and benefit from) their claim to the land.
I want to give a brief summary of the kind of work I was doing at NTSCORP – the work, more broadly, was always at a level that a fourth year law student would not normally be entrusted with. I drafted letters to Proponents, Councils and Ministers, prepared research memos on everything from the Corporations Act 2001 (Cth) to Regional Forest Agreements, and even emailed the Proponent directly (from my personal NTSCORP email address!). Something that is especially interesting about the work NTSCORP does is how it utilises an inherently interdisciplinary process, with Researchers, Historians, Anthropologists, Accountants, Community Facilitators, and Lawyers. In addition, my time at NTSCORP coincided with the NAIDOC Week celebrations – something that makes the Aurora winter round particularly attractive, entertaining and enjoyable (I know that Anupam, Sandy and I are all a bit sad about missing the fair – we should have waited until it started right, George!).
Noting the oft-repeated anecdote about foregoing a European holiday during this break period, I can safely say that interning at NTSCORP was a far more fulfilling, enriching and learning experience than I could have imagined. It is undeniable that the aforementioned experiences would not have been close to as – awesome – as they were without the willingness of the Strategic Development Unit to give me far more responsibility than I probably deserved. Not just this though, but I am unbelievably appreciative of the time sacrificed to mark-up, edit and give feedback on my work – thank you! But, the thing that most stood out to me was that despite a massive (and evidently never-ending workload), everyone at NTSCORP was so welcoming, enthusiastic and fun-loving. It was a working environment that is second-to-none.
If you have an interest in Indigenous issues or native title, I believe there is no better opportunity than the Aurora Internship Program. Applications for the Program for the 2018/19 summer round are now open through to 5pm, Friday 31 August 2018. Please see: http://auroraproject.com.au/about-internship-program for more information.