Kelly Austin

Native Title
Summer 2016

I did a 6 week Anthropology internship with QSNTS in Brisbane as part of the Aurora Internship Program.  Although I have lived most of my life in a community with a large Indigenous population and am broadly acquainted with the post settlement history and issues faced by Indigenous Australians, the area of native title was unfamiliar territory, so I was keen to see this process in action.  My first lesson in native title was that there is always more work to do than there are people to do it.  Within the first hour of my arrival at QSNTS I was shown my desk for the next 6 weeks and given a pile of transcribing work to do.

I instantly felt part of the team.  The staff were anxious to ensure that I experienced as many aspects of the native title claim research process as possible.  Across the 6 weeks of the internship I assisted researchers in transcribing recorded interviews and field notes; entered genealogical data into the genealogy database; created genealogical charts to clarify family connection for claimants; assisted with archival research which involved sifting through documents, most of which were over 100 years old ( I was enthralled as I handled this tangible historical evidence as we pieced together the stories of people who lived more than a century ago); I participated in interviews with informants; and assisted the team with other general  research relevant to the current native title claims.

I found that the practical experience of undertaking each of these tasks added incrementally to my knowledge and skill set.  While working across several native title claims gave me a much deeper appreciation of the linguistic differences and unique cultural practices between Indigenous people groups.

The researchers at QSNTS were also extremely friendly and helpful.  Through the relationships I developed during this experience with other people working in Anthropological research, I have gained a much broader perspective of the practicalities in the field of Anthropology.  I now have a firmer grasp on how to direct my personal future studies and career ambitions.  It has also reinforced my love of research and confirmed to me that I wish to make sure that this is a fundamental part of my future career.

I would definitely recommend to anyone wanting to pursue a career in Anthropology to apply to do an internship through the Aurora Project.  Not only will you gain invaluable practical experience and have the opportunity to expand your connections with Anthropologists working in the field, you also gain the satisfaction of knowing that you also contributed your time, knowledge and energy to helping the people of these organisations achieve valuable and sometimes monumental tasks.  The Aurora staff are incredibly supportive.  It was a constant comfort to know that they were behind me throughout this experience and were conscientiously monitoring my progress and wellbeing through my weekly reports and emails.

Thank you to the Research team at QSNTS for your patience and generosity and thank you to the Aurora Project for giving me the opportunity to experience the practical world of native title.