On January 29th 2019 I started my five-week internship with Selby St Chambers in Adelaide via the Aurora Internship Program. It was an amazing experience and I really appreciate the effort that Andrew Collett put into making my internship as comprehensive as it was. I was given exposure to many different types of matters such as stolen generation compensation claims, workers compensation, native title, and I also attended a short course on Cultural Heritage and the Law that Andrew Collett and Associate Professor Amy Roberts co-taught at Flinders University.
In summary the tasks that I undertook were: preparing chronologies for two different workers compensation briefs, observing a contractual negotiation with Andrew Collett, observing a meeting with traditional owners, assisting with drafting an opinion on two stolen generation cases, observing Andrew Collett and Simon Blewett in court, researching employment law for Simon Blewett, summarising anthropological reports to make conclusions on boundaries for a native title claim, assisting Andrew in preparing his lectures for Cultural Heritage and the Law, and assisting Andrew in preparing for a Continuing Professional Development lecture on ethics.
As well as assisting Andrew in preparing for the short course I was also fortunate enough to attend the course and deliver a short lecture on anthropological methods. The course had many guest lecturers including lawyers, anthropologists, Justice John Mansfield, archaeologists and also included lectures from Dr Jared Thomas, a Nukunu man and Garry Goldsmith, a Nurungga man, who presented their perspectives on native title and cultural heritage. All of the guest speakers were extremely knowledgeable and experienced which made the course highly valuable. It was particularly impressive to hear the perspectives of the two Indigenous men as they offered a personal view of how going through the processes of native title and cultural heritage protection affected them as Aboriginal people. This view is often missing from discussions about Aboriginal people. The fact that the course was co-designed by Indigenous lawyer Leanne Liddle demonstrates how inclusive the topic content was.
The course is highly regarded and students from all over Australia came to participate. I enjoyed meeting the students many of whom were professionals in the area of Cultural Heritage, often archaeologists or anthropologists. In order to gain credit for completing the course I am writing an assignment on Hindmarsh Island and the role of anthropologists and how secret knowledge is handled by our Aboriginal Heritage Act 1988 (SA).
I am confident that taking part in the Aurora Internship Program and participating in the short course will benefit my job prospects.
Working for Andrew also enabled me to meet and network with a broad range of professionals and develop my interpersonal skills. On two occasions I accompanied Andrew to a meeting with other solicitors where the client’s matter was discussed. I was excited to observe the professional interactions and in one case meet the client. As I had prepared a chronology for that client’s brief I was familiar with the legal issues and could follow what Andrew and the other solicitors were discussing. It gave me a unique understanding of how a difficult issue is handled including how it is communicated to a client.
As an intern I felt very supported by Andrew and Simon. Selby St Chambers is a nurturing and supportive environment. The work that I was given was extremely interesting and it served a dual purpose. It was clear that Andrew chose work for me that would interest me as well as providing support for him. I prepared several chronologies and as a result I became well versed in each client’s case. I found this experience rewarding as I was able to learn why chronologies are important and also discovered small details that would have a large impact on the legal issues.
By far my favourite work was the work I did on stolen generation matters. I found this work fascinating and important. I was glad to be given the opportunity to learn about this topic because of how devastating the practice of removing Aboriginal children from their families had on the children, families and whole communities. I was also able to benefit from Andrew’s significant experience in this area as he was part of the first successful stolen generation compensation case in South Australia.
I am grateful for the opportunity to complete the internship and for the assistance from the Law Foundation of SA. I would highly recommend students who are interested in the Indigenous sector to apply.