Anupam Sharma

Social Science
Native Title
Summer 2011

Last summer break was indeed a very enlightening break where I undertook a social science Aurora internship assisting the research unit at NTSCORP in Sydney. I always had a passion for land and an active interest to be involved in research work related to land affairs and Indigenous communities. I was therefore delighted to learn that I was to be placed as an intern at NTSCORP, the NSW based Native Title Service Provider (NTSP) which is an organisation that is as passionate about land affairs and promotes social justice for the traditional owners of the land. I am indebted to Aurora for providing me the opportunity to work at NTSCORP.

The Aurora Native Title Internship Program provides a platform for students and graduates in the field of law, anthropology and some social sciences (namely, archaeology, cultural heritage, environmental management, human geography, history and sociology) to undertake 5 to 6 week unpaid internships with the 15 NTRBs and NTSPs around Australia as well as at over 50 other Indigenous organisations. The program introduces interns to career opportunities in native title, land rights, policy development, human rights, social justice and Indigenous affairs. The primary aim of the program is to provide assistance to these under-resourced and overworked NTRBs as well as to various other organisations, namely Indigenous corporations, government bodies, community groups, not-for-profit, policy organisations and others who are working in the above mentioned areas. Through the program, I had the opportunity to work at NTSCORP.

NTSCORP operates primarily as a Native Title Service Provider (NTSP) and its vision is to promote social justice, economic, cultural and social independence for the traditional owners of the lands, seas and waters. To achieve this vision, NTSCORP strives to assist the traditional owners through native title and other related purposes. The services provided to the traditional owners by NTSCORP include research, legal, community facilitation, future act and land tenure.

 During my internship, I was mostly engaged in entering data into the database and archiving important documents. NTSCORP also provided me the opportunity to accompany a senior research staff (historian) to the State Library and NSW State Records to undertake some research work. I was also privileged to see an exhibition by the NSW State Records called “In Living Memory” which featured images from the official records of the former NSW Aborigines Welfare Board, from 1919 to 1966. Most of the photographs were taken to document the work of the NSW Aborigines Welfare Board and to promote its policies. I personally found the exhibition to be very educational.

My journey as an intern at NTSCORP was very rewarding. Not only did I learn about the complexities of native title issues but also the incredible effort NTSCORP puts in to assist the traditional owners in relation to native title and related areas. My internship also enhanced my knowledge about Indigenous culture, traditions and customs. Moreover, I now have an understanding of what “land” means to Indigenous people and how it is embedded in their culture and traditions. To the Indigenous people, land is not just turf; it is a general point of existence. Land provides a sense of identity and rootedness and to fight for land rights is to actually fight for Indigenous identity.

I am very grateful to the Aurora placements team for the golden opportunity to undertake an internship at NTSCORP. It has been a rewarding experience and I have learnt so much during the six weeks of my internship. I also wish to express my gratitude to my wonderful anthropology lecturer, Dr Greg Downey, for spreading the awareness about the Aurora Internship Program and encouraging students to apply.

I am very pleased that my time with NTSCORP is not coming to an end. To my delight, I have been offered a full-time position as a researcher at this dynamic organisation and I am indeed privileged to accept this offer.