Aysia Rodgers

Native Title
Summer 2014

After completing a Bachelor of Arts, I happened upon the Aurora Project whilst wondering where my major in anthropology could possibly take me in life. The Aurora Native Title Internship Program offers anthropology, law and some social sciences students and graduates the opportunity to undertake internships in Native Title Representative Bodies, as well as a range of other organisations working in Indigenous affairs. I put in an application for the Internship Program eager to put aside the books for a little while and gain some practical experience in the field. I hoped to learn more about anthropology in the native title process and get an insight into the working life of anthropologists in this area.

I was not disappointed. My 6 week placement with the Northern Land Council (NLC) in Darwin was an invaluable learning experience.

The tasks I undertook whilst on my internship were varied and genuinely interesting. I was introduced to the Land Interest Reference systems, and assisted with data entry and completing requests on behalf of anthropology staff.  

I can now say I feel more competent navigating the complexity of Aboriginal kinship systems and more greatly understand and appreciate the traditions, dreamings and historical events I read about. I also assisted anthropology staff with research for upcoming native title determinations. I worked on the editing of an anthropology connection report, in accordance with the minimum connection report material requirements. I found this to be a good learning experience to more deeply understand the native title process, and the anthropological and legal processes involved. I also had the opportunity to join in on other happenings on the anthropology floor. I sat in on the regional meeting, which brings together NLC staff from Darwin as well as its regional officers. I also attended both legal and anthropology workshops covering the history of native title claims in the NLC and the current process required in writing connection reports.

The highlights of my time with the NLC were the opportunities I had to get out and travel. In my forth week with NLC I went to Borroloola with one of the senior anthropologists completing a connection report for a pastoral lease in the area. After reading through a fair few connection reports in the office, this gave me the chance to witness the process of how they are put together in the field. In my final week I once again had the opportunity to get out and about – this time to the Katherine area, visiting Manyallaluk and Barunga. Travelling with one of the regional anthropologists, this trip gave me a good insight into their day-to-day work, and the consultation process. Overall it was a real privilege to be able to get out and experience the amazing landscape, and to be able to meet the traditional owners for the area, hear about their country and their stories.  

In sum, I took a lot away from my time at the NLC. Being involved with the anthropology team there has given me the opportunity to apply myself to an area work which is relevant to my studies and interests, and is sure to evolve in interesting ways. I would recommend an Aurora internship for later year students or graduates looking to gain some solid work experience and meet some remarkable people.