23 June
Robyn, Chloe, and Clea outside Bidyadanga Artists.

Broaching the Kimberley

In brief, our Outreach trip saw:

  • Arts Law’s CEO Robyn Ayres visiting the Kimberley to connect with local artists and organisations
  • Accompaniment by lawyers Clea Denham (King & Wood Mallesons) and Chloe McIlroy (Telstra)
  • Legal advice and workshops being provided in and around the towns of Broome and Derby

On arrival at Broome airport, lawyers Clea Denham (King & Wood Mallesons) and Chloe McIlroy (Telstra) and I all met each other for the first time. We were all very appreciative of the warm temperature, found our hire car and headed off to our hotel to prepare for the week ahead. After a full day of plane travel I headed down to Cable Beach to stretch my legs and enjoy the sunshine.

It was an early start to day two as we picked up Art Centre Manager, Carly Day, headed down to Bidyadanga two hours south of Broome, making an essential coffee stop at the roadhouse along the way. The artists were interested in talking about copyright and licensing as well as the importance of wills. In the afternoon, we provided some one on one legal advice about issues such as licensing and copyright infringement and several artists had wills prepared. The sun had well and truly set as we drove the 2 hours back to Broome and I soaked up the magic of the starry starry night sky.

Robyn with Shontae Charles at a smoking ceremony
Robyn with Shontae Charles at a smoking ceremony

Day three brought another early start as we headed north to Mowanjum Art Centre on the Gibb River Road in the community outside Derby. It’s is a very impressive art centre – with the building taking its design inspiration from the sacred Wandjina. Sadly the distress in the community about current misuse and misappropriation of the Wandjina was central to many of our discussions over the next 2 days as we looked at possible ways to address it, such as actions for copyright infringement, TM infringement as well as the urgent need for ICIP laws. It was special for me to go back to Mowanjum as this was where Arts Law did our first outreach wills trip in 2007.

Back at Mowanjumn, day four saw the drafting of wills and provision of advice about a couple of deceased estates. In the afternoon we drove back to Broome and I managed to catch the golden splendour of the sun setting over the Indian Ocean.

Day five was spent in Broome, working with artists from more remote communities, most of whom have ended up in Broome for medical treatment. Some of these artists were sleeping rough as there was no suitable accommodation available, despite the fact they were living in Broome more or less permanently as they needed dialysis treatment several times/week. They were very engaged about how the fledgling art centre could work and the issues affecting their work such as copyright and licensing. Most were also keen to make a will, as they were keen to make sure that income from their creative work went to the right family members.

Throughout the week I was extremely grateful to have the company and capable of assistance of Clea and Chloe, as well as Carly who is doing amazing work with both the Bidyadanga art centre and the fledgling Broome art centre. Thanks also need to be given to Lotte Waters, Mowanjum Art Centre’s Manager, for her enthusiastic assistance, as well as to Shontae Charles for the smoking ceremony which gave everyone a fresh sense of energy