11 February

Interview with Teina Te Hemera

Could you explain what you have been doing for Arts Law?

I have been interning at Arts Law for the past five weeks as part of the Aurora Internship program which places students in organisations across Australia that have an Indigenous focus.

During that time I have done some work in the Artist in the Black section of Arts Law looking at the Parliamentary report on the ‘Impact of Inauthentic Art and Craft in the Style of First Nations Peoples’ (which was a result of the Fake Art Campaign), the IP Australia paper ‘Indigenous Knowledge Issues for protection and management’ and volunteered at the Arts Law tent at Yabun Festival in Redfern.

I have also done some work creating an easy to follow flowchart on copyright law and an information page on what Artists need to know about using native plants and animals in their work in Western Australia.

What did you find the most interesting or engaging experience during your time with Arts Law

I was most interested to learn about Indigenous Cultural Intellectual Property (ICIP) issues and the current lack of adequate protection, either here in Australia or internationally. I had never heard of WIPO (World Intellectual Property Organisation) and will now follow keenly what happens in the coming developments in the WIPO Intergovernmental Committee on Intellectual Property and Genetic Resources, Traditional Knowledge and Folklore, as they draft an international instrument aimed at protecting ICIP.

Well before studying law I left school to study music at Abmusic in Perth (a music college for Aboriginal people) and dance at NAISDA on the Central Coast, NSW. So it has been nice to come full circle and see how law and the arts meet and the people behind the scenes advocating for better outcomes for artists.

For anyone considering becoming an intern or thinking about applying to work with Arts Law what would be your advice?

Working at a community legal organisation exposes you to many different aspects of the law and how it affects every day people in ways you wouldn’t ordinarily think about. If you are interested in how to advocate on the rights of artists at the micro level, such as fair contract and licensing, to the macro level of something like Indigenous Cultural Intellectual Property, then Arts Law is a great place to be exposed to this. It also gives you the opportunity to see how much advocacy a small organisation can do and how they utilize the support of bigger firms to help them do so.