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The internship gives interns a much needed exposure to administration in Indigenous affairs. No studies can prepare a student on how to work as a mining or joint-management project officer, only work experience through this kind of internship will teach them.

Paddy Mohan,
placed at Northern Land Council (NLC)

Mineral Law NTRB Scholarship Program

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: As of December 2014, Rio Tinto will no longer be funding the scholarships to Dundee. Aurora is awaiting the outcome of a funding application to PM&C via the Indigenous Advancement Strategy (IAS) which will determine whether we will continue to administer the Mineral Law NTRB Scholarship Program. Applications for the 2015/16 round will be open from 16 February through 13 March 2015. We expect to hear from PM&C at the end of March. In the event that the funding application is unsuccessful, the round will be aborted at that time.

About the scholarships

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

The scholarships have to date been administered by the Aurora Project and funded by:

  • Rio Tinto (funding ceased December 2014)
  • Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet (PM&C) - Aurora is awaiting the outcome of a funding application to PM&C via the Indigenous Advancement Strategy (IAS) which will determine whether we will continue to administer the Mineral Law NTRB Scholarship Program.
  • 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.  Pending the outcome of Aurora's funding application to PM&C, the scholarships have been named the Mineral Law NTRB Scholarship Program in the interim.

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 usually 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 has in the past provided 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.

How to prepare and submit an application


  • You will need to provide THREE WRITTEN PROFESSIONAL REFERENCES to attach to your application material, including at least one from the Principal Legal Officer (PLO) at your NTRB (if currently employed there) and/or at least one who is able to comment on your academic merit to attach to your application material. Phone references will not be accepted.

  • Please note that NO APPLICATIONS WILL BE ACCEPTED AFTER 5pm (SYDNEY TIME) AEST Friday, 13th March 2015.

Application Process

There are 3 steps involved in preparing and submitting your application.

Step 1

Prepare the required information in the following order as a SINGLE Microsoft Word document that includes:

i) A Statement of Purpose: In addition to providing reasons for applying for the Scholarship, the Statement of Purpose should include relevant details of career history (if applicable), personal philosophy, aspirations and future career plans. It should include, where relevant, any native title experience. The selection committee will not consider statements over 1,000 words or any documents beyond those requested.

ii) A curriculum vitae

iii) A passport-size photo

iv) A scanned certified electronic version of your academic transcript/s

v) A scanned certified copy of your Degree certificate

vi) Provide Three written professional references, including at least one from the PLO at your NTRB (if currently employed there) and/or at least one who is able to comment on your academic merit. Please see the following link outlining the criteria to be addressed by your referees (Aurora Reference Request). We suggest saving this Pdf document and forwarding it on to each referee.

Note that your referees will only be contacted (via email) by the Scholarships team in the event that we require further information and their details will remain confidential. Please ensure that you have provided us with up-to-date referee email addresses in your on-line form. Phone references will not be accepted.

Please ensure to clearly label and save your SINGLE Microsoft Word document as follows:

You will then be asked to attach this to your online application form.

Step 2

i) Complete the on-line application form

ii) At the end of the online form, attach a SINGLE Microsoft Word document which will need to include: a Statement of Purpose, CV, photo, academic transcript/s (certified), Degree certificate/s, and three written professional references.

iii) When you have attached your SINGLE Microsoft Word document please click on the submit button.

IMPORTANT - PLEASE NOTE: Once you have submitted your application you will immediately receive a confirmation email from the Scholarships team. If you do not receive this email, this means that your application has not successfully gone through and you will need to re-submit. Be sure to check your 'Junk' email!

Step 3

i) Mail an official hard copy version of your academic transcript/s and Degree certificate/s to:

Kim Barlin, Placements and NTRB Scholarships Manager
100 Botany Road
Alexandria NSW 2015

If you would like us to return these documents, please include a self-addressed envelope.


  • Candidates will be evaluated by the Aurora NTRB Scholarships team and 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 conference in mid/late May.
  • Once successful candidates are notified by Aurora (early June) 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.

If you have not heard from us by early May or if you have any questions on the process, please send us an email to

NTRB scholarships – making a difference

  • Since 2005, we have received 168 applications.
  • The Program has led to 21 lawyers being selected and undertaking the Master’s program, 18 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 been awarded the scholarship for the 2014/15 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.
  • Thirteen 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 14 scholars who have completed their two year post-study NTRB commitment have collectively contributed an average of 3.5 years to the system – an average of 2 years beyond their 2 year commitment.
  • The 6 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.