Irene Gallagher

Native Title
Summer 2020

Between November and December 2019, I had the opportunity to undertake an Aurora Internship at NTSCORP. NTSCORP is a Native Title Representative Body (NTRB) that assists Traditional Owners in NSW and the ACT to seek recognition of and exercise their rights and interests under the Native Title Act. This entails a wide variety of legal and non-legal work, ranging from historical and anthropological research pre-claim, the claim process itself, right through to assisting Prescribed Bodies Corporate (PBCs) to manage their native title rights and interests post-determination. Given the scope of the work, it is no surprise that I ended up working on a vast range of different tasks.

NTSCORP is a fast-paced work environment, and I was quickly entrusted with tasks such as legal research (and providing memos to the legal team with my findings), point in time review of legislation, drafting letters to claim groups, Government Departments and other stakeholders, and drafting briefs to counsel. I was also involved in administrative and logistical tasks, including putting together a newsletter for a claim group and helping the team mail out said newsletters.

While I was on placement, I was fortunate enough to attend the Federal Court in Sydney and observe a Consent Determination. It was rewarding to witness the conclusion of a claim that had stretched across over 20 years, and it gave me perspective on the perseverance and resilience required to succeed in a native title claim. Alongside the consent determination hearing, I had other opportunities to engage with the Court, including attending and observing a callover and a case management hearing.

Notwithstanding the engaging work, perhaps the best thing about NTSCORP is its culture. I was warmly welcomed into the office, and encouraged to join in on the morning coffee run, boardgame lunch breaks, Friday afternoon drinks, and the office’s various Christmas celebrations. NTSCORP is a truly vibrant place to work, and I thoroughly enjoyed every moment I was there.

I did not have any experience in native title prior to my placement, but I have left inspired to pursue further work in native title and the broader Indigenous sector. I have gained an appreciation for how native title operates in practice, and some of the systemic issues and challenges facing native title claimants and native title holders. I would definitely recommend an Aurora placement to anyone interested in a career in the Indigenous sector.  Applications for the winter 2020 round will be open from 2 through 27 March 2020.