Laura Melrose

Native Title
Summer 2019


My placement with NTSCORP in Redfern, Sydney via the Aurora Internship Program was potentially the most interesting and valuable five weeks in my legal career thus far. I interned in their Legal team in January-February 2019, and during that time, was exposed to all sorts of interesting matters and challenging tasks that all served to make my placement an incredibly rewarding experience.

I was given a wide variety of tasks to complete on a day-to-day basis. I often had to draft various documents including letters and briefs to counsel, research legal issues and write memos for solicitors, and put together draft presentations to help prepare for claim group and Applicant meetings. I also helped to review and organise the evidence provided to us by members of claim groups regarding their connection to their land, as well as historical and anthropological reports.  The claimants’ evidence included affidavits, recordings of stories and family histories and videos that they had put together. Further, I helped work through the tenure aspect of another claim by examining Certificates of Title to identify whether we can dispute the extinguishment of native title in individual land parcels. In addition, I was invited to go to court and observe a case management roundtable and a tenure workshop, which was incredibly informative.

The best experience I had on placement was attending the company-wide cultural awareness training and operational planning in Tweed Heads at the end of January. The cultural sensitivity seminar was such a valuable source of insight, and was run by two local Bundjalung brothers who aim to marry continuity and tradition with dynamism and change. Their ethos is to support businesses to better understand their Indigenous employees but also to show how Indigenous principles of relationship building, communication, mutual responsibility and non-hierarchical management structures can be beneficial to a business.

Working at NTSCORP was a true pleasure. Everyone in the office was so friendly and welcoming to me, and they are all very intelligent and passionate people who care about the work they’re doing. The atmosphere is always easy and comfortable, and strikes the perfect balance between being social and getting things done. At NTSCORP, you do have to be self-sufficient and able to throw yourself in the deep end. Everyone there is very supportive and happy to answer questions if you get stuck, but you have to take some initiative too. Being the representative body for every native title claim group in NSW and ACT, you can understand why they don't have time to spoon feed - but the more work you ask for and the more you say yes to, the more rewarding the experience will be.

In conclusion, I cannot fault my experience with Aurora and NTSCORP. Native title in general is a challenging area of law – people often work so hard and for so long for what seems like little reward in the grand scheme of things – but it is so worthwhile and the people at NTSCORP have the right sort of drive, ambition and energy for the job. I’m honoured that at the end of my placement I was offered a permanent position on the Legal team as a paralegal, and am so pleased that my career in native title and with NTSCORP doesn't end here. My internship experience has been so far beyond what I ever expected and put me in the perfect situation to take the next steps along my career path, and I’m so grateful to the teams both at NTSCORP and at Aurora for giving me this incredible opportunity.