In celebration of Cultural Diversity Month 2018, the Women’s & Children Hospital Foundation in partnership with the Australian Migrant Resource Centre (AMRC) presents, Everyone Belongs.
The photographs focus on families, children and young people, and come from three visual arts projects coordinated by the AMRC: Photographs from a Suitcase, UnderXposed and Hand in Hand. The photographs all portray the lives of people who have arrived in South Australia as refugees from 2002 until 2014.
Photographs from a Suitcase features black and white portraits that document the lives of people who recently arrived in Australia from Bosnia. The project was photographed by Andrew Hill.
In UnderXposed young people of refugee backgrounds turn the camera on their lives as well as their friends and families to capture their experiences in Australia. The young photographers and aspiring artists of refugee background and from new communities were assisted to undertake an artistic exploration of their culture, their community and their relationship to the broader Australian population. The project was based around participatory workshops which involved discussion of the issues and concerns of young people and options for their artistic expression, through an exploration of photographic process.
Taken by participants ageing from 11 years of age to 27, this selection of photographs shows amongst others the recently arrived Bhutanese, Burmese, Iraqi and a diversity of African community members as they go about their daily lives at school, at home, celebrating events, travelling to work and passing their leisure time in and around South Australian public spaces. The photos on display were taken by Chida Chouhan, Durga Basnet, Kashindi Machochi, Lok Nath Ghimire, and Priyanka Dhakal.
The images are, above all, of optimistic young people and their family members and friends, positive about their new circumstances and settling into and contributing towards, a new country.
The Hand in Hand project was conceived as a means through which young people of refugee background could come together with Indigenous youth and their communities to explore their relationships with family, community and each other’s cultures. In this process recently arrived young people could interact with the original inhabitants of this land, including Aboriginal elders, to share their culture and evolving sense of place. The displayed photos are by Masooma Rasool, Kobra Taheri, Taiba Nasiri, Yianni Hill, Igor Sefer, and Hari Adhikari.
Through photography, oral history and performance workshops, these young people were able to empower themselves, using media which gave them a direct voice to break down the stereotypes which act to reinforce their marginalised status.
Over an eight-month period, more than a hundred young people from Africa, the Middle East, South Asia and the Kuarna and Ngarrindjeri Aboriginal communities attended various workshops held across the metropolitan area, at Camp Coorong and at Raukkan.
Participants found common ground between the experiences of new arrivals and Australia’s first nations peoples. For example, whilst for many at first glance, today’s Afghani refugees would seem to not have a lot in common with Australia’s own Indigenous people, on closer inspection we find that our country’s history has been underpinned by the 3,000 Afghani cameleers who were the backbone of internal exploration and transportation in the second half of the nineteenth century. When Abdollah, recently arrived from Afghanistan, met Auntie Alice Abdulla from the Ngarrindjeri community, they recognise their common, interwoven histories and their now intersecting present.
Everyone Belongs reminds us that Australia is a vibrant and multicultural country — from the oldest continuous culture of our first Australians to the cultures of our newest arrivals from around the world. Nearly half (49 per cent) of Australians were born overseas or have at least one parent who was, and we identify with over 300 ancestries (ABS 2016 Census Data). Our cultural diversity is one of our greatest strengths and is at the heart of who we are. It makes Australia a great place to live.
Multicultural Australia is an integral part of our national identity. Apart from English, the most common languages spoken in Australia are Mandarin, Arabic, Cantonese, Vietnamese, Italian, Greek, Tagalog/Filipino, Hindi, Spanish and Punjabi, and more than 70 Indigenous languages are spoken in Australia (ABS 2016 Census Data). All people who migrate to Australia bring with them some of their own cultural and religious traditions, as well as taking on many new traditions. Collectively, these traditions have enriched our nation.
Everyone Belongs will be on display in the Green Heart Gallery (Level 2, Zone D – near Hospital Café, WCH) until the 11 April 2018.