Undertaking an Aurora Internship Program placement with South Australia Native Title Services (SANTS) has definitely been one of the highlights of my tertiary studies. As a Law/Health Science student with a strong passion for native title and the increased recognition of and respect for Aboriginal Australians in contemporary Australian society, it has truly been an invaluable experience gaining insight into the anthropological side of native title with SANTS. Through my placement, I have not only gained a deep and meaningful understanding of the importance of anthropological research in finding evidence of native title rights claimed in the historical record, I have also been privileged to learn a great deal about the history, language and culture of various Indigenous communities that continue to exist and maintain a connection to country in South Australia today.
Winter 2017 has been an especially exciting time to be interning in the area of native title in light of the recent Treaty talks, NAIDOC Week and the prevalence of Indigenous stories discussed in the media.
Right from Day 1, I was warmly welcomed into the SANTS team and introduced to all members of staff and fellow anthro/legal interns. The SANTS atmosphere is friendly, focused and supportive and our supervisors are always happy to meet with us to clarify any questions, provide guidance and discuss the findings and significance of our research.
The research I conducted during the course of my internship was engaging, varied and insightful. I consulted materials compiled by the National Native Title Tribunal, community-specific books and records, genealogies and family histories, affidavits and digitised newspaper records from Trove. We also travelled to the State Library of South Australia Museum archives and viewed relevant boundary maps and documents from the 1800s, with our research made all the more meaningful knowing it would make a difference in currently-progressing Native Title claims.
We were also privileged to meet prominent anthropologists who continue to contribute important work to the native title area. One of the most intriguing experiences was to view a short documentary recording the traditional dances of an Indigenous Nation, which really helped us visualise and understand anthropological evidence in the cultural context. We also had the opportunity to attend SANTS staff meetings, and it was very interesting learning about current developments and native title updates.
Importantly, interns at SANTS are provided with the opportunity to work with both anthropology and legal teams and are introduced to the post-claim support role of SANTS in facilitating continued community support and growth. I viewed relevant legal documents and ‘Form 1s’ to assist in my anthropological research and also prepared memos for two of SANTS lawyers.
This practical insight into native title has enabled me to gain a deep appreciation of the fundamental and central importance of anthropology in native title, and I would like to sincerely extend my heartfelt thanks and gratitude to Robert, Belinda and the SANTS team for providing me with this invaluable opportunity.
I would strongly encourage all people with an interest in native title and a passion for equality and human rights to apply to undertake an Aurora Internship with SANTS. The 8 weeks (3 weeks full-time, 5 weeks part-time) of my SANTS internship has absolutely flown by!