Portia Hamilton

Social Science
Native Title
Summer 2014

The Aurora Project is an organisation which places students and graduates at Native Title Representative Bodies and Aboriginal social enterprises and policy organisations in unpaid full-time 6 week internships. The Aurora Native Title Internship Program accepts Law, Anthropology, some Social Science (namely archaeology, cultural heritage and environmental management) and Business students and graduates from throughout Australia.

As a University of Queensland Masters of Museum Studies graduate, I was forwarded an email about the Internship Program five months before I was able to undertake an internship. Excited about the prospects of working within the field of Indigenous affairs, I began to prepare my application in July as well as enrol in some Aboriginal Studies and Anthropology units at UQ. Cut to early November and I was packing my bags ready to begin my journey. I was sent to the Dugalunji Aboriginal Corporation (DAC), which is located just outside Camooweal, Queensland—twenty kilometres from the Northern Territory border.

The Indjalandji-Dhidhanu Traditional Owners of Camooweal won native title in December 2012. However, winning native title over their land was an advanced milestone in their journey, as the Indjalandji-Dhidhanu descendants concurrently run a trio of successful Aboriginal social enterprises in outback Australia. With a proximal connection to the mining and civil sector, the Saltmere family have set up Myuma Pty Ltd with Colin Saltmere as Managing Director. Myuma Pty Ltd operates as a civil construction business as the engine of the group of enterprises, whilst providing pre-vocational training for Indigenous Australians to gain employment in the civil and mining sectors.

I was fortunate enough to work across all three organisations: Dugalunji Aboriginal Corporation, Myuma Pty Ltd and Rainbow Gateway Pty Ltd, known collectively as Myuma Group. DAC focuses on land management, traffic control, cultural heritage and native title, whilst Myuma delivers the pre-vocational employment program to Indigenous Australians who live in remote areas. Rainbow Gateway is a Remote Jobs and Community Programs (RJCP) employment provider which outsources to Myuma Pty Ltd for job training. The Myuma Group has also partnered with the University of Queensland, through the Aboriginal Environments Research Centre, and Managing-Director Colin Saltmere is an Adjunct Professor here. UQ Professor Paul Memmott, who is a leading Queensland anthropologist, and Dr Harshi Gamage also visit and work for DAC in a mutually beneficial partnership.

One of the highlights of completing my Aurora placement at DAC was working amongst the melting pot of different people within and outside the organisation. From mining magnates to government representatives, making networks with people from different Indigenous cultural groups and employment sectors was truly an opportunity not to be missed. I was even fortunate enough to meet acclaimed artist Shirley McNamara and talented photographer Hazel Windsor.

I would implore any student, at the University of Queensland or otherwise, to apply for an internship through the Aurora Project. This opportunity provides you with the skills and experience necessary for an introductory pathway into the field of native title and Indigenous Affairs more broadly.

Further details can be found at the website, www.auroraproject.com.au.  Applications for the winter 2014 round of internships will be open from 3rd through 28th March 2014 on-line via their website