Patrick Stewart

Native Title
Winter 2014

I have always had an interest in environmental, planning, native title and resource law that has extended beyond just the pure academics and into some of the social aspects and outcomes that these laws create. Participating in the Aurora Native Title Internship Program was a way to explore some of these dynamics whilst at the same time gaining some valuable legal work experience.

I completed my internship at NTSCORP Limited (‘NTSCORP’) in Redfern ( NTSCORP is the Native Title Service Provider for Aboriginal Traditional Owners in New South Wales and the Australian Capital Territory. From day one the place was buzzing – I was asked to arrive early as the whole legal team was required at a directions hearing at the Federal Court. Having not attended court many times, I found this experience really interesting and was lucky enough to have one of the NTSCORP solicitors explaining the proceedings to me.

It is an interesting time for native title in NSW as a number of long running claims proceed towards a determination. During the placement I was involved in a whole range of paralegal tasks, and particularly involved in one claim that is progressing towards a consent determination soon. As part of this, I assisted one of the NTSCORP senior solicitors in preparing a variety of supporting documentation to provide the court as part of the determination. Ranging from correspondence, tenure searches, court forms, affidavits, reports and other documents I really felt that I was able to put some of the skills I have been developing at university into use.

Aside from the valuable work experiences, I found my time at NTSCORP and Aurora Project thoroughly enjoyable. The people I had the pleasure of working alongside, networking with other interns from other universities, attending NAIDOC week celebrations, enjoying my weekends exploring Sydney – these were all memorable experiences that I will carry with me for a long time.

Part of the Aurora Internship Program remit is to address recruitment and retention of staff working at Native Title Representative Bodies. I found it interesting and encouraging as I got to know the background of the other solicitors, paralegals and anthropologists at NTSCORP and just how many had started out as Aurora interns. For any students out there considering a career in native title, or who are even just curious about what that sort of career might involve, I would thoroughly recommend undertaking an Aurora internship. Placements are offered throughout Australia, with opportunities also available locally in Townsville and Cairns.