Legal internships in the Aurora Native Title Internship Program.

by Laura Holmes

My six-week internship at New South Wales Aboriginal Land Council (NSWALC); what can I say, I had an amazing experience! I made new friends, I learnt a lot about the Aboriginal land claim system in NSW and the political nature of many of the issues that arise.

From day one, they set me to work reading up about the land claim system, which is entirely different to native title. Where native title is more focused on cultural connection with land, Aboriginal land claims are compensatory and allow Local Aboriginal Land Councils to manage the land as they see fit once the land is granted. As the land is granted in fee simple, Aboriginal Land Councils can even sell the land for the economic benefit of their communities. Also, Aboriginal people don't have to be from the specific Aboriginal groups to receive a benefit, they just have to be Aboriginal and living in the area. I think this is a fantastic way of ensuring that those affected by past Government practices such as the removal of children, can still be compensated and supported in the community where they live today.

The Legal Officers at NSWALC found challenging and interesting tasks for me to complete. These included drafting letters, memos and briefs. A highlight of my internship was my task of investigating land claims which had been rejected by the Minister to see if they were validly rejected and if not to appeal the rejection. I also attended court for a day with one of the Legal Officers. It was great fun watching the Barristers work and seeing how the positions raised by Counsel were flexible, depending on the opponents, and ended up being totally different at the close of the day.

I found the work at NSWALC to be engaging and useful. I will definitely use the skills I learnt there. One of the best things about it was receiving constructive criticism from the lawyers on my drafts. They went through them carefully and provided useful feedback about how I could better phrase sentences.

The team at NSWALC are all very friendly. They took me out for lunch on multiple occasions. This was a great way to get to know my colleagues better and also Parramatta, where the Land Council is located.

If you're interested in Aboriginal affairs, then you should definitely apply for an Aurora Internship via the Aurora Native Title Internship Program.

Visit the Arora Project website for more information.

If you would like to discuss further, feel free to contact me directly on: lholm@deakin.edu.au.


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