Lauren Lai

Organisation: 
Stream: 
Legal
Sector: 
Native Title
Location: 
Alice Springs
Round: 
Winter 2018

 

Touching down on the dusty tarmac in Alice Springs I braced myself, not for the landing, but for the next five weeks…in a good way of course! Having read the previous Aurora intern testimonies, I had some picture of what I was going to experience during my internship at the Central Land Council as part of the Aurora Internship Program, but after five weeks, this picture was far more wonderful than I initially imagined!

 

The CLC is a Commonwealth statutory authority representing and working alongside Aboriginal people in Central Australia to exercise their rights and manage their land. The CLC has functions under the Aboriginal Land Rights (Northern Territory) Act 1976 (Cth), as well as the Native Title Act 1993 (Cth) as a Native Title Representative Body to assist native title claimants and holders.

 

As part of the legal team, I worked on a number of legal research tasks that arose due to a variety of issues, including leases, contracts, cattle and land rights. They were all fascinating, applying to unique situations in different communities, with some having very tangible outcomes. I also drafted community development contracts, which involved money from leases or mining activities on Aboriginal Land used for various projects chosen by the community. This was great to see how my Law degree and Development Studies major came together in a very practical way!

 

A highlight by far was getting the privilege of attending community meetings in three different Aboriginal communities. Speaking with Aboriginal people and obtaining their consent is fundamental to the CLC’s work, so tying a swag to the top of a troopy and driving hours down red dirt roads is a common occurrence! I accompanied not only lawyers, but also anthropologists, community development officers and geologists, which was very insightful in learning from their vast and varying experiences and knowledge. The purposes of these meetings included obtaining instructions as to how the community wanted to allocate lease money, and approving mining and commercial leases. It was also a wonderful experience getting to hear the stories of some of the Aboriginal men and women.

 

I would highly recommend interning at the CLC or any other organisation in Alice Springs. Having been to Alice twice before, I arrived with an existing love for the place – but these 5 weeks definitely affirmed and grew my passion for Central Aus! If you haven’t yet been – you need to go! And what better way than interning through Aurora! (www.auroraproject.com.au).

Applications for the summer 2018/19 round are currently open and will close at 5pm on Friday the 31st of August at http://auroraproject.com.au/about-applying-internship