Law student Sophie Coffin from The University of Western Australia has been awarded the 2020 John Koowarta Scholarship.
The John Koowarta Scholarship is a national scholarship dedicated to helping Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander law students achieve their ambition of becoming a lawyer. The scholarship honours John Koowarta, a Winychanam Elder, who pioneered Aboriginal land rights in Australia during the late 1970’s and early 1980’s.
Sophie is a proud Ngangumarta/Yindjibarndi woman from Port Hedland WA who is currently finishing her Juris Doctor. Her passion for human rights, social justice and intellectual property informs her aspiration for a career in the protection of the intellectual property rights of Aboriginal artists in Western Australia.
Ms Coffin said she had always been extremely interested in human rights law, and rights of Aboriginal people at an international, United Nations level.
“I’m interested in using my legal training to ensure such artists are protected, so I can act as a gateway between the cultural, artistic process, and the commercial side,” she said. “I want to ensure artists benefit, their art is respected, and rights protected. Our culture is so critical for generational knowledge, and the preserving and protecting of that sacredness is of paramount importance to me."
In addition to her studies, Sophie is actively involved in her community. In recent years she has represented the UWA at the National Indigenous Legal Conference in Darwin, participated as a WA representative at the Uluru Statement from the Heart Youth Summit in Cairns, and was crowned Miss NAIDOC in 2018.