Sophie Dembski

Native Title
Thursday Island
Summer 2015

As I began writing notes for this final article, I was sitting watching the rain absolutely bucket down on Thursday Island, and I found it hard to reflect on my last six weeks (and nearby Cyclone Nathan was not exactly helping lift my spirits as it dampened my final week). My time spent as an Aurora intern as part of the Aurora Internship Program with the Native Title Office of the Torres Strait Regional Authority (TSRA) was pretty amazing, yet I found it difficult to pinpoint what I had exactly “done”. It was very different to my earlier internship that summer, where I had undertaken one major research project and watched my work come together. In the NTO I had worked on a myriad of smaller things, which can be summed up in just trying to help this very busy office run along. And that was definitely rewarding in itself.

My placement had been broken up with time away from Thursday Island that definitely stuck out in my memory – we spent almost a week in Cairns, attending the Sea Forum Summit, a regular meeting where the various Native Title bodies of the Torres Strait come together for updates and discussions on Native Title matters. It was pretty amazing to see these people assemble - all the key people who lived native title every day. Just being in the room to observe these discussions felt like a privilege – and of course I learned heaps along the way (while hopefully helping out somewhat too).

This trip was perhaps surpassed by my trip the following week to Iama (Yam Island) – a beautiful destination with some interesting travel along the way. (A tiny plane, in the rain. It was a good thing I had my raincoat with me (as always) as without being pressurised these planes aren’t quite waterproof either.)

And in between these wonderful excursions, I got to help out the office – and although these times were never quite as photogenic, the work was just as enjoyable - everything from answering the phones to digging up dusty files, to researching new legal arguments and back to the phones. Altogether I really appreciated working with the lovely team at the NTO - even the crazy-busy days were enjoyable with the feelings of accomplishment and laughs and challenges overcome.