Tayla Inglis

Native Title
Winter 2017

If you have a passion for Indigenous culture and a desire to work in native title law then I would highly recommend applying to the Aurora Internship Program. I was fortunate enough to be placed at The South Australian Native Title Services (SANTS) who provide legal representation and guidance to support native title applications, negotiations and determinations with a particular focus on enhancing Aboriginal Nations capacity to achieve their aspirations.

The practical and hands-on experience you are exposed to throughout the course of your internship is second to none. Over the course of my 5-weeks at SANTS I was exposed to many varied and challenging tasks which immediately exceeded my expectations. I was working under the supervision of one of the Senior Legal Officers at SANTS and towards the end of my internship was given the opportunity to assist the Principal Legal Officer with some pressing matters. The work I was involved in ranged from researching and preparing memoranda on various native title, commercial and corporate law matters, to drafting court documents and letters of advice, to assisting with drafting amendments for an Indigenous Land Use Agreement, to preparing and studying family trees.

Impressed with the work I had completed, my supervisor gave me the extensive task of finalising a land tenure check over a native title claim area. This involved cross-checking with the states’ findings on whether native title had been extinguished in relation to each parcel of land over the claim area. My supervisor called this 'native title 101' – as not only did it give me the greatest insight into the process required prior to filing a native title claim but it also opened my eyes to see how sparse native title could be claimed over such large areas of land.

A highlight from my internship was accompanying my supervisor to court for a directions hearing regarding two overlapping native title claims. This was extremely exciting for me as I had never been to the Federal Court before so it was great to see how a case was run and how the case I had been working on was progressing.

I thoroughly enjoyed my time at SANTS – the work was both intellectually stimulating and rewarding, and the staff at SANTS made me feel very welcomed and valued. I will be forever grateful for this experience. I know that from my time at SANTS not only have I had the opportunity to develop some incredibly valuable legal skills, I have also had the opportunity to action my passion for social justice and to meaningfully contribute to an under resourced native title body. I cannot recommend applying to the Aurora Internship Program enough if you are interested in gaining a practical and hands-on experience into the work of a native title lawyer.