The following provides some essential information on practical matters entailed by undertaking design activity within the Design Action Program. Clarity about such matters helps to ensure that activity undertaken with a host organisation fosters a productive and equitable exchange between host and student, for mutual benefit. This section is addressed primarily to students, as the newcomers to the design world, but can serve as a reminder to hosts of important issues.

Insurance (WorkSafe, Public Liability and Professional Indemnity)

  • Students who are employed by a host organisation and paid a salary are covered by their employer’s workers compensation policy, public liability and professional indemnity.
  • If the student is not being paid, then as higher education students our Industrial Design students are covered by RMIT’s student accident insurance, public liability and professional indemnity provided (printed or emailed) to organisations requiring proof of coverage.
  • Recent graduates – who are no longer higher education students – will need to be covered [for workers compensation] by the host organisation responsible for their project. Current policies for public liability and professional indemnity will need to be confirmed with RMIT when an agreement is signed with the host organisation.

For detailed information including insurance on travel to and from authorised placements, either in Australia or offshore, see RESOURCES


Intellectual Property and Confidentiality

Knowledge of intellectual property (IP) rights is important for every designer. Students should familiarise themselves with RMIT’s Intellectual Property Policy and the Australian design industry’s approach to IP, see RESOURCES

Undertaking design activity in a host organisation presents a few common scenarios in relation to intellectual property, including:

  • Obtaining permission for use of a host organisation’s IP
  • Making sure not to disclose confidential IP information to others
  • Ensuring credit for any contribution to a host organisation’s IP-indevelopment

Using a host organisation’s IP in your own work

Students may be in a position of wishing to use a registered design owned by their host organisation, for example, in coursework or for an online presence. Before this occurs, students need to understand that a host organisation retains exclusive rights to the use of the host’s designs and to authorise use by others.

If you were employed by an organisation (e.g. as part of a paid internship), then you will have been subject to the conditions of employment as per any other employee. Whether you were employed by the organisation or not, you should obtain from them clear, written, approval – in advance – to use any registered design for your own academic or portfolio purposes.

Non-disclosure of your host organisation’s IP-in-development

A host organisation may seek (at some later time) to register a design developed while the student was at the organisation. While the student may not have been working directly on the design, they may have had access to it. If the student later made the design public – for example by presenting it to other students in a course report, or placing it on a website – then this would prevent the host organisation from registering the design, as a design can only be registered if it is new, original and hasn’t been disclosed.

Host organisations are usually well aware of such risks and should have a confidentiality agreement for the student to sign, which makes clear the restrictions and obligations entailed by his or her time at the organisation. RMIT also has its own set of confidentiality deeds and agreements that may be used to address such issues before they arise.

If you have not been presented with a confidentiality agreement at the start of your Design Action project, make sure you ask about your host organisation’s expectations in relation to confidentiality. If at some later time you wish to make use of your host organisation’s designs, you should obtain written permission from the host organisation before you do so.

Ensuring credit for student contributions to IP-in-development

What are a student’s rights in relation to the registering of a design to which they have materially contributed during their time at a host organisation? It is important for students to know that, as the designer, they own the design, but how things will proceed depends upon whether the host organisation or the student themselves wishes to register the design (at some later time).

If the host organisation seeks to register the design, they will need an agreement with the student for use of the design. If the student was in employment with the organisation, he/she will already be governed by the conditions of that employment, including use of intellectual property. If the student was not in employment, then he/she may be asked to sign a contract that addresses this issue specifically.

If the student wishes to register the IP themselves, then they must prohibit the host organisation from disclosing the design in the interim – as stated above, a design can only be registered if it is new, original and hasn’t previously been disclosed. It would thus be in the student’s interest to reach an agreement with the host organisation on future use of a design as soon as possible after the design is created.


Professional Ethics and Workplace Rights

A successful Design Action Program project requires mutual awareness by students and hosts of professional ethics and workplace rights. Host organisations need to:

  • Ensure that they respect the workplace rights of students and graduates
  • Be aware of professional or ethically risky situations in which students could be placed
  • Have a code of practice in place and induct students appropriately
  • Model best practice in professional ethics
  • Be aware of the steps to taken if a problematic event occurs

Students and graduates need to:

  • •Be aware of your Australian workplace rights and protections, your host’s protocols and the requirements of professional behaviour
  • Act professionally and ethically at all times. This will be covered as part of your Work Ready preparation
  • Be able to handle situations where your practices may be questioned
  • Be aware of the steps to take if a problematic event occurs, such as raising it with your work supervisor or DAP Coordinator
  • If you have an accident then this need to be reported to your supervisor and RMIT as soon as practicable
  • Be aware that health and safety obligations vary from country to country and for overseas placements the requirements of the country where you will be working should be discussed with your DAP Coordinator and with your host organisation