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I now feel native title law is completely something I could love doing with my degree! I think it is a challenging but rewarding environment.

Ellen Maybery,
placed at Central Desert Native Title Services Ltd (Central Desert)

Australian Government-Rio Tinto NTRB scholarships

Each year two postgraduate scholarships are available leading to a Master of Laws (LLM) in Mineral Law and Policy at the Centre for Energy, Petroleum and Mineral Law and Policy (CEPMLP) at the University of Dundee, Scotland. PLEASE NOTE: Due to funding constraints at this time, we are unsure if scholarships will be offered for study in 2015/16. Aurora will continue to run the program until we determine the outcome of our funding application to PM&C in late February. Applications for the 2015/16 round of scholarships are due to be open from 16 February through 13 March 2015.

About the scholarships

2013/14 scholars,Tessa Hermann (left) and Charlotte Deans at the University of Dundee

The scholarships are administered by the Aurora Project and funded by:

  • Rio Tinto plc (RT)
  • Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet (PM&C)
  • The Centre for Energy, Petroleum, Mineral Law and Policy (CEPMLP).

The 2005 Report identified problems with the recruitment and retention of lawyers to the native title system and in particular to NTRBs. Both the Aurora Native Title Internship Program and the Australian Government - Rio Tinto NTRB Scholarships are contributing to improved recruitment and retention at NTRBs. Initially funded by Rio Tinto, in 2009 the scholarships were renamed the Australian Government - Rio Tinto NTRB Scholarships in recognition of funding provided by the government.

Applying for an Australian Government - Rio Tinto NTRB Scholarship Program

All applications for the Australian Government - Rio Tinto NTRB Scholarships need to be submitted via the online application form during the application period. PLEASE NOTE: Due to funding constraints at this time, we are unsure if scholarships will be offered for study in 2015. Should this be resolved, applications for the 2015/16 round of scholarships are due to be open from 16 February through to 13 March 2015.

Preparing and submitting your application

Step 1

Prepare the required information in a SINGLE Microsoft Word file of not more than 5MB that includes:

  • a statement of purpose of not more than 1,000 words
  • a scanned electronic version of your academic transcript
  • a curriculum vitae
  • a scanned passport-sized photo.
Step 2

Save your Microsoft Word document using the following format:

  • surname.first
  • eg.,
Step 3

Complete the scholarships online application form.

Step 4

Attach the SINGLE Microsoft Word file to your online application form and submit your application prior to the closing date.

Step 5

Mail a hard copy of your academic transcript to Kim Barlin, Placements and Scholarship Manager.

How the selection process works

Candidates will be evaluated by a selection committee made up of academic and industry representatives

Short-listed candidates will be notified in early May if they are required to attend an interview by video link in mid-May. Travel costs for short-listed candidates will be covered by Rio Tinto where applicable

Once successful candidates are notified by Aurora they must complete an application form to the LLM program with the University of Dundee. At that point candidate applications will be forwarded on to Dundee for final acceptance.

Structure of the Masters of Law program

The Master of Laws (LLM) in Mineral Law and Policy provides students with:

  • knowledge of the current legal, policy and economic issues and challenges in mineral resources investment and development
  • a comparison of national laws, regulations and contractual arrangements that currently govern the exploitation of mineral resources
  • the opportunity to develop sophisticated legal and policy approaches to mineral resource management and sustainable development within the industry
  • the skills required to advise the various stakeholders that participate in the industry.

The core subjects cover:

  • both the substantive law relating to mining practice and the international and local context of the industry
  • the relationships and conflicts between those who are most affected by mining law and policy - mining companies, the state, indigenous peoples, landowners and the local community.

Program requirements include:

  • the three core subjects
  • elective subjects to specialisation in human rights, investment law, environmental law and project analysis and mining finance.
  • a dissertation, PhD proposal or an industry internship.

Program duration:

  • Study commences in September for one year of full time study, made up of three terms.
  • An internship either at Rio Tinto or with one of its outside counsel during the August holiday period (with some flexibility around timeframe) may be possible depending on exams, coursework and other research commitments.

For more information about the LLM program please visit the University of Dundee's website.

What costs does the scholarship cover?

The total value of the scholarship is approx. A$54,610 paid in British Pounds (as at July 2014):

Tuition fees£16,800
Living allowance for 12 months, paid monthly£11,724
Airfares and reasonable relocation expenses£1,550
Arrival allowance£950
Thesis/assignment preparation allowance£374
  • Living allowance is paid to each scholar directly into their bank account, monthly in arrears with the first payment by the end of September. Payments will stop if the scholar chooses to return home before the 12 months study period is complete.
  • Arrival allowance will be transferred directly to the scholar’s bank accounts by the end of September.
  • Thesis allowance will be transferred directly to the scholar’s bank account by the end of April.

PM&C provides an additional A$15,000 towards the living expenses of those recipients of the scholarship who are working in an NTRB at the time they receive the scholarship.

What conditions apply to the scholarships?

Scholarship recipients must agree to:

  • work for a minimum of two years at an NTRB providing mining and resources-related legal advice to native title claimants in Australia following graduation from the LLM program. This work may be as an employee of one or more NTRBs, or another entity involved in advising traditional owners.

Who can apply?

To apply for a scholarship candidates must:

  • be Australian citizens or permanent residents, and normally reside in Australia
  • have successfully completed a Bachelor of Laws degree at an Australian tertiary institution by close of semester one of the year that they are applying for the scholarship
  • be prepared to make a legally binding commitment to provide mining and resources- related legal advice to native title claimants in Australia, for a minimum of two years, within the NTRB system.

There are no age restrictions for applicants.

NTRB scholarships – making a difference

  • The scholarship program has led to 19 lawyers being selected and undertaking the Master’s program, 16 of whom are from nine NTRBs (Central Desert, CLC, CYLC, KLC, NLC, NTSCORP, NTSV, TSRA and YMAC).
  • In addition, three lawyers from outside the system joined the system after being awarded the scholarship and completing the Master’s program.
  • Moreover, three scholarship recipients encouraged three of their friends to join NTRBs (one of whom then went on to become the 2009/10 scholarship recipients); one Indigenous lawyer who expressed an interest in the scholarship, has since joined an NTRB and recently applied for a scholarship in the 2013/14 round; and one lawyer joined the system after expressing an interest in the scholarship.
  • Sixteen of the 17 scholarship recipients who have completed their study have resumed work at an NTRB to take up their two year post-study NTRB commitment, two of whom are currently in their first or second year back.  The two current 2013/14 scholars are planning to return to their NTRBs on completion of their studies.
  • Two of the 16 have gone on to be appointed PLOs and one has been in an acting PLO position.
  • Twelve of the 17 who have completed their studies have also completed two or more years at an NTRB, seven of whom continue to work at NTRBs.  Of these seven, two are Indigenous.
  • The twelve scholars who have completed their two year post-study NTRB commitment have collectively contributed an average of 3.7 years to the system – 1.7 years beyond their two year commitment.
  • The five highest ranking students to undertake the LLM at Dundee in the last seven years have been our scholars, and two additional scholars ranked second and fourth.
  • Four of the scholars in the last five years were Aurora interns.

Alumni network

Participation in the scholarship program links you to Aurora’s extensive alumni network.  As an alumnus, you will receive emails inviting you to events and directing you to check employment opportunities in the area of native title, policy development and Indigenous affairs at the job network on this website.