This is My Country: Highlighting Injustice & Dispossession

Ingetje Tadros is a Dutch photojournalist who now lives in Broome in Western Australia. I’ve known her for some time now and have watched as she has gained world-wide recognition for her work  documenting the lives of the Indigenous people of North West Australia.

Ingetje spent a number of years getting to know and photographing the inhabitants of Kennedy Hill, an Indigenous community in Broome, which along with up to 150 other Indigenous communities, is being threatened with closure by the state government. These closures would disrupt the lives of up to 12,000 people: splitting families, separating people from their ancestral lands and perpetuating the cycle of neglect, oppression and dispossession that the First Nations peoples of Australia have been subject to for more than 200 years

The resulting body of work, entitled, This is My Country, is Ingetje’s attempt to make known the plight of the people in these communities with the hope of having the policy overturned.

From her website:

I moved to Australia 12 years ago and was deeply affected by what I saw. I set out to document the lives of Australia’s indigenous people, travelling to remote regions of Australia’s vast and unforgiving outback to spend time in Aboriginal communities and witness their life on the margins. I heard and felt their discontent. I found communities fractured and in distress with high incidences of alcoholism, domestic violence and suicide. I saw that communities were mismanaged by their governments, not fully understood by the wider aid community and largely invisible to the remainder of Australian society.

I had the good fortune to live close to an Aboriginal community where I settled in Broome (a resort town by the sea on the north coast of Western Australia). Kennedy Hill, as it is called, lies on a beautiful piece of land overlooking the sea a short distance and on pristine real estate.

I feel strongly that the Aboriginal people are not treated with the respect they deserve as the First Peoples of this country. When you sit with the people and hear their stories it becomes obvious how beautiful these people are. Their connection with their land, their country and their family, is something we all can learn from.

Recently This is My Country was a feature exhibition for the Head On Photo Festival in Sydney. I spent a couple of hours with her photos and I found the experience overwhelming on a number of levels. Ingetje’s photos not only helped me to see what she had seen: the poverty, the distress, the brokenness of the people. There is something special about the photos that helped me feel with the people depicted in the photographs. I was saddened, angered, depressed and inspired to take action by what I saw and experienced.

Now this gifted and compassionate photographer is hoping to publish This is My Country in book form. As a result she has set up an Indiegogo crowdfunding appeal, that has in just two weeks raised over half of the fu

If you go to that link, you will see a video about the project, which is a powerful document in itself. I highly recommend you view the video. It will tell you so much about the plight of Australia’s first peoples and their struggle to survive.

This is an important project. Indigenous peoples in Australia are marginalized, not seen as a priority when it comes to government policy making, and their plight does not register high in the consciousness of the wider community. This is My Country hopes to change all that.

And that is where you come in. It would be great if you would consider backing the book And if you could share this post and the link to Indiegogo with your networks, it would go a long way towards bringing This is My Country before a wider audience.

Just to give you a little more background, here’s list of the awards this work has received so far:

  • Walkley Award 2015 (Australian equivalent of the Pulitzer Prize)
  • Finalist FotoEvidence Book Award 2016,
  • Nominated for the ANI -PixPalace Award 2016,
  • Winner Amnesty International Media Awards 2015,
  • Winner Best Feature Photographic Essay at the 2015 West Australian Media Awards,
  • Finalist in the United Nations Association of Australia Media Peace Awards 2015,
  • Digital display at The Louvre in Paris 2015,
  • Winner United Nations Awards 2014 (AUS),
  • LensCulture Visual Story Telling Award 2014,
  • The Juliet Margaret Cameron Award for Women 2013 (UK)

To finish off I am going to post (with permission) some of the photographs from This is My Country.

Thank you for reading all this. I hope you will help in any way you can. Money is good! So is sharing the links and this post and telling friends about this really very important and urgent situation.

 

AMNESTY WINNER
Young people in Kennedy Hill watch TV together
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Tourists fly in from all over the world to Broome to enjoy the beaches and  the surrounding pristine environment but for the residents of Kennedy Hill this reality is totally removed from their world.
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“Alcohol can bring you down and kill you, it will….to me I was happy to die, I lost my father. He was my hero, I had a bad record, I know now my job is to save my people.” ‘Billy’ Stuart Ah Choo sitting outside his home in Kennedy Hill with his beloved dog Dontee and her pup Little Blacky.
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Chrissy holding a birthday cup. When Chrissy turned 21 years old, her mum Elaine Wiggan said: “She is a loving mum and does not drink, she stays home and looks after her two kids.” .
KENNEDY HILL 2
Kids playing at their family home in Kennedy Hill (Winner Amnesty International Media Award 2015)
Kennedy Hill is a remote Aboriginal community in Broome in the north-west of Australia in the Kimberley. The community exists in the shadows of Western Australian premier Colin Barnett’s commitment to close down approximately 100-150 Aboriginal communities in Western Australia. There are more than 270 remote Indigenous communities in Western Australia and between them they are home to 12,000 people. Australian award winning Photojournalist Ingetje Tadros has spent four years working with the Aboriginal people and documenting the confronting daily life within the Aboriginal community. Her concerns for the community stretch from the old uninformed line that demonises Aboriginal men by insinuating that Aboriginal women and children are under great threat by the men in the communities to a lack of affordable accommodation while over seven per cent of the Kimberley population is homeless, and ninety per cent of this homelessness is comprised by its First Peoples.Aboriginal elders and leaders are shocked and feel this is a big threat to their people and believe the impact of such a move could be almost as devastating, forcing people out of the communities would just relocate and intensify underlying problems of poverty, disadvantage and unemployment. History is repeating itself! Much of the Kimberley is now under a regime of liquor restrictions, and some believe the drying up of Central and Eastern Kimberley towns has driven many of the most hardened and troubled alcoholics to Broome, where the booze continues to flow. So the problem of alcohol in smaller communities and the restrictions has moved the problem to the larger centres.  The hill is significant to indigenous people in the region and the presence of a large shell midden immediately adjacent to the community is testament to this significance. It’s been a living area since before white occupation or colonisation....since time immemorial. Now the question remains, which Aboriginal communities will be closed? Personal quotes:  “Somehow I feel it’s all becoming a very slow genocide for the Aboriginal People, they are the Original people of Australia, this is their Land, their Country." Taking Country away from people is like committing spiritual genocide for they will be forever lost. My good friend Katja Nedoluha wrote: To Aboriginal people, losing Country is not just like losing a home in the sense of losing a roof over your head. Losing Country is losing the connection to everything that ties them and is tied to that Country; Community, language, kin, Law, culture. Aboriginal people belong to their Country just like your breath belongs to you. Country sustains them. Countrymen and women are the blue print of their land and carry its stories, law, culture in their physical embodiment." 
“I’ve always been appalled by the way the Aboriginal people were treated and it just disturbed and disgusted me, so I decided to have a closer look and started mingling with Aboriginal people about four years ago, at first I spent time in the little bush camps where they were carving boab nuts and where they were eating and drinking, I started taking portraits and from day one I’ve given the images back, which were always received with a big smile, that was my reward, the smiles on their faces, so we started a relation and that whole relation become more stronger and intense , than I started documenting daily life like funerals, hunting, family fights, a wedding and little family moments. Than over six months ago I felt the need to document just one Community, and that became Kennedy Hill.” Why? First of all I was appalled that people are living in such poverty in Australia, which is such a rich country, people living in very old and un- maintained houses and this all in Broome, a tourist mecca where people fly in from all over the world to enjoy this beautiful place, the  Community of  Kennedy Hill seems a different planet and it’s sits on a pristine real estate and I was just annoyed about the negativity about Aboriginal people, as I always say ‘ when there are different cultures living together, you should sit with one another and learn from each other and respect each other’s cultures and ways, this is the only way forward.” Myself I am Dutch and am married with an Egyptian, I decided to live in Egypt for one year and my husband lived also in Holland, our marriage still stands, now 30 yrs married,  as we have embraced each other’s culture and understand each other culture, than it will be sustainable.”  “I wanted to get to know the people in Kennedy Hill and spent 6 months to document their life, the people opened their homes for me and started sharing their frustrations and their problems.”  “Many Aboriginal people are appalled and shocked by the decision of the Premier of Western Australia —Colin Barnett - about his decisions to close at least 100 communities in Western Australia.”  “I’ve learned so much from the Countryman and women, their relationship within their families, the strong family ties, to know who they are and know where the come from, it identifies them, in my own culture this does not exist.” “My last remark is that the only way to learn from each other is to sit with each other , respect and understanding go a long way, and that is what I have found and I can say from the bottom of my heart that Aboriginal people are the kindest and warmest people, who are very welcoming and have the best humour and it saddens me when I hear, over and over again, ‘they just have to go over it’, as my reply to statements like these is, ‘what about if all what happened to them, would ‘ve happened to you and your family’, would you and your family ‘just get over it?”
Kennedy Hill sits in one of the most pristine real estate in the town of Broome. The Community is slowly being dismantled.

Ingetje has worked as a photojournalist in many parts of the world, mainly highlighting the lives of marginalized and persecuted peoples. Please check out her links below to find more of her work.

Website: http://www.ingetjetadros.com/

Find her on Facebook

To expereince much more of Ingetje’s fine photojournalismt, visit her photostream on Flickr

Peace

 

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