Daniel Berehulak

An interview with Daniel Berehulak by Michael Harris.

Daniel Berehulak is an award winning, independent Australian photographer and photojournalist, currently residing in Mexico. Born in Sydney in 1975 to Ukrainian immigrant parents, Berehulak studied history at university before embarking on a business career. In 2002 He began his photography career at first shooting sporting events, before moving to London to work for Getty Images as a staff news photographer.

To date, Daniel has worked in over 60 countries around the world covering infamous events such as; the aftermath of the Japanese tsunami disaster, the trial of Saddam Hussein and more recently the war on drugs in the Philippines. His work has received numerous awards, in 2011 for his work covering the Pakistan Floods and his coverage of the Ebola virus epidemic in West Africa. Berehulak has twice been named Photographer of the Year.


When did you begin taking photographs? What made you want to begin a career as a photojournalist?

I’ve always been taking photographs—even as a boy, on school excursions or with family, I was taking photos. That love for making pictures and capturing memories and moments allowed it to grow in to my career.

What inspires your work?

Coming from somewhere where I had a very privileged upbringing, it always felt like people didn’t understand what people in other parts of the world are going through. I feel that I have a responsibility to tell stories about people all over the world.

NATARI, JAPAN – MARCH 06: Michiko Miura, 53, holds the hand of her son, Taisei Miura, 1 year 8 month old, as she walk past her neighbours home destroyed in last years tsunami, on March 06, 2012 in Natari, Japan. As the one year anniversary approaches, the areas most affected by an earthquake and subsequent tsunami that left 15,848 dead and 3,305 missing according to Japan’s National Police Agency continue to struggle. Thousands of people still remain without homes living in temporary dwellings. The Japanese government faces an uphill battle with the need to dispose of rubble as it works to rebuild economies and livelihoods. (Photo by Daniel Berehulak /Getty Images)

You started as a sports photographer, what made you want to begin working overseas covering natural disasters and conflict?

I studied history in university, and as a kid I read adventure books –stories about the Amazon, the Arctic, and all the incredible place in between. I’ve been curious about the world and always wanted to see the world. Working overseas has allowed me to see so much of the world and share the stories of the people who live in it.

Did any photojournalist’s work stand out to you as inspirational in your own growth as a photographer?

Many! So many of my colleagues inspire me every single day—Kevin Frayer, Joao Silva, Meredith Kohut, James Nachtwey, …I could go on and on.

Your work covering the Ebola outbreak in West Africa is incredibly powerful. How did that project come about and did you have any hesitation traveling to an area where the danger cannot easily be seen?

I had been following the story and knew the Times had covered it, so when my editor called up and asked if I was interested I immediately answered, “Yes”. The story is so important, and had this element of interconnectedness to it. This disease could put the whole world in danger. Saying “yes” all came back to the idea of responsibility: I had the opportunity to cover this story and so I was going to do it, and I was going to do my very best with it.

Eric Gweah cries as a burial team removes the body of his father, West Africa 2015

Have you ever had issues turning down potential projects? If so, what is the hardest aspect of it?

Yeah, I actually had to turn down an assignment for National Geographic covering Ebola and that was really hard. I thought maybe I’d never get the chance to work with them again. However, I was already working with one publication on the story and I really wanted to see the story through and be loyal to the publication that had sent me there.

Tell us about your trip to the Antarctic, you said it had always been a dream of yours?

I had read about the explorers as a kid but never thought it could be a reality. Through opportunities working with the Times, I really got to live the dream.


Of all the work you have done over the years, which work are you most proud of, or consider the most important?

Any story that makes people stop in their tracks and makes them reconsider how they’re living their lives or their approach to something, maybe just brings up something they hadn’t thought about before is important to me. Stories that connect people and spark and emotional response are the stories I’m proudest of— especially Ebola and the recent Philippines story.


A young girl, displaced by flooding, and stranded, on land only accessible by air, sleeps covered in flies, on a makeshift bed on August 27, 2010 in Garhi Khairo near Jacobabad in Sindh province, Pakistan. (Photo by Daniel Berehulak/Getty Images)

Which do you think is more difficult to cover, emotionally; natural disasters or the results of human conflict?

The frustrating thing with conflicts is that they’re manmade. Natural disasters are equally as tragic but a natural disaster is just that: a natural disaster. War is preventable. They’re both equally difficult to cover emotionally but war is much more frustrating.

How difficult is it coping with the stresses of working in these environments? How do you think a photographer should best deal with them?

Assignments always very in level of difficulty and stress, but what I always have to remind myself of is to have perspective. Yes, it may be difficult for me for the short period of time I’m there, but I get to go home, to leave, at the end of my assignment. The people that I’m photographing don’t—this is their lives, this is their reality.

One thing that really helps is having a good network of friends who have gone through similar things, and who are there to talk things out (or to just be with after a long assignment). I also think seeking professional guidance or help is great.

Is there anywhere you really want to travel to that you haven’t yet to document?

I’d love to go to Alaska and focus more reporting on climate change.

Do you have any interesting projects you are working on at the moment?

I have some stuff in the works. At the moment I’m working on a story in Mexico where I’m based.

What advice would you give to a potential photojournalist beginning his or her career?

Dream big and set goals for yourself. Nothing gets handed to you—you’ll have to work for everything. Be persistent when you get turned away and allow that to give you fuel and momentum. And last but not least, photograph things that are close to you and that you care about—your connection to that subject is what will make your work stand-out, and it makes you that much more invested in what you’re photographing.


Rio Helmi

Interview by Adam Abela.


Rio Helmi is an Indonesian photographer and writer. He has been a resident of Ubud for over forty years. Born to an Indonesian Diplomat Father and Turkish mother, Helmi speaks five languages fluently.

Much of Helmi’s current work focuses on Balinese culture, and the interaction between indigenous people and their environment. In the past he has traveled broadly across the Indonesian Archipelago, Malaysia, Myanmar, Thailand, Japan, Ladakh and Mongolia, to photograph both distant tribal people and modern urban life. Rio Helmi now freelances for many regional and international magazines also having publishing several large format photo books.

What influenced you to get into the photography industry?

I was always interested in telling stories, showing aspects of what was happening around us to people who otherwise might never know. Photography seemed to me, a very direct means of communication, that could touch people in a very direct manner. What I consider to my real work in photography is somewhere between photojournalism and documentary photography.


What is it you want to share with the world?

I don’t think I have one particular “message to the world”. A lot of photojournalism is a reaction to what is happening around us. However, where that reaction comes from involves a whole set of values, experiences, and aspiration. I’ve always been interested in what happens to people at the grassroots level, in remote areas, which are normally off the radar. I think there are many stories yet to be told. In Indonesia and many parts of Asia there are many people who experience difficulties which people ignore. Also many who have something of interest to share. I am interested in sharing stories about interesting people, about artists, about people who influence culture.


Much of your work is captured in Bali, such as ‘Memories’.
Is it your aim to spread a wider message about the
Balinese spiritual culture?

A memory is about something which has passed. It does concern me that so much is being lost in the fast and furious pace of change on this island. Aspects of the culture which made it so special, (for example) the natural beauty.


You are also the photographer of the book ‘Bali Style’ which cover the celebration of the traditional Balinese architecture, interiors, arts and crafts.
What history of importance do these traditions have towards Balinese people?

That book was a commissioned book. Initially I didn’t really want to do it, but my publisher pushed me. Eventually I gave in because even then I had a sense of how much of the architecture of Bali was disappearing, so I slightly subverted the original concept to include not just fancy villas but a lot of the classic (and some of the quirky) Balinese architecture. The book is now fast becoming a historical reference book.


Your work appears in magazines, documentaries and you have over 20 large format books. Which one is your favorite? Why?

Well I think Memories of the Sacred really stands out for me. It is pretty much a condensed retrospective of 30 years of my work on Bali – it helped me to make sense of all those long hours waiting, shooting, and just getting there which in the old days was a lot harder!
River of Gems my Borneo book with Lorne Blair is also important to me. There was some pretty wild adventure, and it was all done with my best friend who sadly died far too young in my opinion.

What motivates you as a photographer?

It’s always the story that pulls you in.

You become involved in it.

It becomes the driving force.




Rio Helmi Photography. 2017. “Rio Helmi Photography”.

Retrieved 3 April 2017, from http://riohelmi.com/

Memories of The Sacred. 2017. “Afterhours Books”.

Retrieved 3 April 2017, from http://www.afterhoursbooks.com/memories-of-the-sacred

Style, B., & Helmi, R. 2017. “Bali Style. Alibris”.

Retrieved 3 April 2017, from http://www.alibris.com/Bali-Style-Rio-Helmi/book/554246

Home – Ubud Now & Then. 2017. “Ubud Now & Then”.

Retrieved 3 April 2017, from http://ubudnowandthen.com

Tim Page

Interview with war photographer Tim Page by Homer Nemenzo.

Tim Page in his home office 23/03/17. Photo by Jake Day.

In the early morning of March 30, 2017, two days after Cyclone Debbie hit the east coast of Central Queensland I found myself driving around through heavy rain and blistering wind. The visibility around me was so poor and I could hear the man on the radio advising all drivers to stay off the road as it was not safe. However, I was not about to stop or turn around and go home; I needed to meet a very special man, the man who escaped death numerous times to photograph the Vietnam War in the late 1960s, his name was Tim Page.

Tim Page was born on the 25th of May 1944 in Royal Tunbridge Wells, a large affluent town in western Kent, England. In 1962, at a tender age of 17, Tim left his family home and travelled across Europe; driving through Pakistan, India, Burma, Thailand and finally reached Vietnam in 1965. Due to his love for photography he found work as a press photographer in Laos stringing for the United Press International (UPI) and the Agence France-Presse (AFP). From there Tim had spent the next three and a half years photographing and documenting the Vietnam War. He became an iconic war photographer and was named one of the ‘100 Most Influential Photographer of All Time’. In the movie ‘Apocalypse Now’, the photojournalist Dennis Hopper’s character was based on Tim Page. Today the man who captured some of the most amazing images of the Vietnam war for all the world to see lives peacefully with his wife in a quiet suburb of Brisbane.  



Tim, you left home at a very early age, did you have an actual destination and did you plan to document the Vietnam War?

When I was 16 years old I had a motorbike accident in the UK and I was dead but I came back. I can’t really remember much of it but I supposed that when you have seen the tunnel and came back, everything else is free time. As for the war, I did not look for it, it found me.

Did you travel alone or did you travel with other people?

Oh no, I travelled with all sorts of people in a Kombi van which I later sold. I had no money so I sold watches, my camera, vehicles and even currency which was worth more in the other side of some borders. I’ve also smuggled hash over the border and pimped.

When you arrived in Vietnam in 1965 and started documenting the war, did it come across in your mind that maybe you’ll never get to go home again?

Well, at first, we did not know that it was going to get that bad and by the time it hit the roof, it was too late. I was also broke, I was always broke and the money was there.

Obviously, it must have been very challenging to photograph when you have hundreds, thousands of bullets flying around you, not to mention land mines and other hazards. Did you have a tactical plan before you went out in the field?

Because I was not a soldier I had more time to look around and assess the surroundings. You learn soon enough where everybody is and even the weapons that they were carrying just by the sounds they make.

Were you also carrying a weapon to protect yourself?

No, it was not my job. However, if I was travelling with a small group of soldiers and no one could watch my back then they would tell me to carry one but I prefer not to. A weapon is as good as the ammunition that they carry and they’re bloody heavy!

You were injured several times but you kept coming back for more, can you tell us why?

I supposed that if you get hurt and you live for another day then you start to believe that you can do it all over again.

But your last injury put an end to your participation in the Vietnam war, can you remember that day?

We jumped off the chopper to save some wounded soldiers. The sergeant in front of me stepped on a land mine which sent him 30 feet up in the air and lost both of his legs and I was hit by a two-inch shrapnel just above my right eye. I was basically pronounced dead but again I survived and spent the next year in the US undergoing extensive neuro-surgery.

Going back to the war, it must have been hard to relax and sleep after seeing the horror each day, how did you all cope after a long day?

I slept ok. After a day in the field we would go to the bar; drink some beers, smoke some joints and maybe visit an opium farm then sleep like a baby.

Were there occasions where you photographed outside the warzone area?

Yes, boring photos. Sometimes we were asked to photograph some ladies giving birth in the local hospitals or just random boring photos.

If you could go back time, would you do it again?

No, if I knew it was going to get that bad I would not be in there.

Lastly, what is your opinion of the Vietnam War?

I believe it’s all political and I believe America did not win it but it is what is. Many people have died; soldiers, civilians and even photojournalists.



Before I left Tim, there was kind of sadness inside me. There I was sitting in a small room with a man who shares the same passion as me. Someone who I only just knew but still do not know. I have researched him, spent four hours talking to him in person but all I know is his work but I am now curious of him, what is in Tim Page’s mind?

I have a huge respect for all war photojournalists such as Tim. For some they may be crazy but to me they are soldiers without the guns, instead they carry weapons that freeze the moments so the world can see the horror in wars.






Tim Page, Nam

Tim Page, The Mindful Moment

Joshua McDonald

Interview by Ruby Pascoe.

Joshua McDonald grew up in regional Northern NSW Australia. He changed schools at age fourteen, following an expulsion and moved out of home at age sixteen. Josh was in his second year of an apprenticeship after leaving school and living with friends when he decided to go on a holiday to Bali with a group. He made a last-minute decision to travel somewhere else entirely and at age seventeen, he booked a solo trip to Kenya.

Josh has now been working as a human rights photojournalist for the last five years in many different countries around the world.

When did you first start to show an interest in photography?

My sister is a well-respected photographer in the Northern Rivers, so growing up I was always surrounded by cameras, naturally, I was always interested in it.

[In Kenya] I teamed up with a local NGO, and started taking photos on my first camera – a Canon 7D my sister gave to me second hand. The photos were no good, but it allowed me the opportunity to feel I was doing something worthy.

You’ve worked in a range of different countries, how did you become drawn to these stories and issues around the world? Are there particular stories that you want to tell?

My first interest in the kind of stories I cover came from discussions with my father as a kid. Saturday was always our time together, he’d drive me to my soccer games, we would talk about the ancient world, the Sudanese famine, Afghanistan and conflict. We spoke about everything. In the years to come this would be my main interest. I never watched TV, only documentaries, I read lots of books. I spent most of my spare time just researching these topics.

My main focus would be conflict and human rights. Personally, I can’t understand how these topics go undiscussed in the public. I love people, I love taking photos of them, hearing and sharing their stories. I guess the stories I want to tell are just other people’s stories that I, as a kid, would’ve taken interest in.

How did you find yourself working as a photojournalist at such a young age?

The combination of my keen interest in history, traveling, politics, and photography really influenced my interest in photojournalism. Shortly after Kenya, I returned to Australia only for a few weeks to quit my job and say goodbye to friends and family. I took a one-way flight to Paris with the intention of pursuing a vagabond lifestyle. Most of my photos in the months after this were of the people I met along my travels and the places I went.

I, along with two friends had booked a trip through the Balkans [to] the Middle East and down the coast of Africa, we were only a few days away from Israel when the war [in] 2014 started. My friends pulled out instantly. I, at the time, felt drawn to go and see it for myself. I covered the bombings of Gaza shortly after my 18th birthday. I had no connections, no prior training and very ill equipment.

At the time, I felt very brave. My friends would tell me how awesome it was that I was there, but it is only now that I have covered conflicts around the world that I understand how naive it was of me to document those bombings. I not only put my own life at risk but all [of] those who I worked with. Overall, Palestine was a stepping stone towards my career but I was lucky, very lucky that I made it out alive.

You’ve worked during conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq, mostly on the front line, how was this experience for you as a photojournalist?

I felt that I was ready for Iraq only because, as a naive kid, I covered Palestine. The reality could not have been more different. It was exciting, I loved it [and] I miss it so much but at the same time I have nightmares of what I witnessed in Iraq. I knew these places existed and I knew what to expect, but actually seeing it [and] feeling it was hard. I came so close to death several times, yet if asked today to head back to Mosul, I’d go.

You’ve also worked in Nicaragua, and have helped bring to light the disease CKDnT which has and is causing many deaths in the state. Now that these stories are being published, along with your images, how do you feel your work is effecting the public’s awareness of this disease and the people it effects?

Nicaragua was my first large investigate story. I lived in a village there for a few months and spent almost a year working closely with medical experts in London and Boston. I spent a lot of money and time on this project and wasn’t ever convinced I’d achieve much from it, as not many people are interested in rural Nicaragua, so to now see that my work there has won awards and secured me future contracts in Afghanistan and the Ivory Coast is amazing.

In Nicaragua, changes are being made to improve workers’ rights. And in neighbouring El Salvador we have convinced a sugar mill to implement a new work ethic which has been very successful.

In your experience, do you think photojournalism can change people’s views on an issue and therefore lead to change?

Yes, of course, For anyone who doubts this I only ask that they watch the film – Jim. It’s a film about a friend of mine who was killed in Syria. This film proves why photojournalism is so important. Storytelling, whether through photography or writing always has and always will be very important. I will stand by my belief that a camera, if in the right hands, is much more powerful than any weapon.

Where do you see yourself in the future in your line of work? Where would you like it to take you?

I don’t want to work for a large publication. I just want to cover stories that mean something. I can see myself covering conflict for the next few years then hopefully focusing on my own projects.

After spending some time back home in Australia, Josh now has assignments on child labour in coal mines in India, slavery on cocoa farms on the Ivory Coast and a trip to the Wakhan Corridor in Afghanistan. He is hoping to cover these stories before October this year. During a long connection flight, not too long ago, Josh wrote a list of all the stories he wants to cover, but these will have to wait for now, until next year.





Newton, Julianne H, ‘Photojournalism: Do people matter? Then photojournalism matters,’ Journalism Practice 3 (2009): 2, 233-243, accessed 21 March 2017, Taylor Fancis Online. Doi: http://dx.doi.org.libraryproxy.griffith.edu.au/10.1080/17512780802681363

Finkelstein, David, ‘Photojournalism: Arthur Fellig and Homai Uyawalla,’ Journalism Practice 3 (2009): 1, 108-112, accessed 21 March 2017, Taylor Francis Online. Doi: http://dx.doi.org.libraryproxy.griffith.edu.au/10.1080/17512780802560823

McKillop, Andrew, ‘Iraq War: Worth it or Not?,’ Sage Journals 24 (2013) 6, 1051-1056, accessed 25 March 2017. Doi: 10.1260/0958-305X.24.6.1051

Ordunez, Pedro, Martinez, Ramon, Reveiz, Ludovic, Chapman, Evelina, Saenz, Carla and Da Sliva, Agnes, ‘Chronic Kidney Disease Epidemic in Central America: Urgent Public Health Action is Needed amid Causal Uncertainty,’ PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases 8 (2014): 8, accessed 26 March 2017. Doi: http://dx.doi.org.libraryproxy.griffith.edu.au/10.1371/journal.pntd.0003019

Source List:

Joshua Mcdonald: joshmcdonald.info@gmail.com

Website: https://jmcdonaldphotography.squarespace.com/

Heath Holden

Interview with Heath Holden a wildlife photojournalist by Jessica Dennis.

How old were you when you first started photography and what influenced you to get into the industry?

I was probably about 23 when I first bought a camera. It was a basic point and shoot Canon, but it had enough features to learn what the manual controls were all about, this was the start of it. I had been riding BMX for a long time and it was a huge part of my life so it was a natural thing to start photographing riding and the travelling we did to ride new places. Also, I had always been interested in wildlife and wild places and when I received a book for Christmas it really inspired me to look a bit deeper into that.

Have you completed any qualifications or have you progressed from self- taunt talent? If so where did you study and what did you study?

When I was in school there was no option to study photography, well I don’t think there was anyway. I was more of a technically minded kid, I don’t really think of myself as creative or artistic. Before photography took over I worked as a Toyota technician (automotive mechanic) for about 6 years, it is a respectable job but it wasn’t too enjoyable being stuck in a workshop 5 days a week when all I could think about was riding or exploring the world. Photography came to me later on in life through that curiosity and exploring personal interests, I visualise a lot of my work before it happens and photography is the only way I can put it all together into a tangible object. So, I guess I am self-taught haha. I have attended a few workshops, festivals and speaking events over the years, and met some very influential photographers and editors. These are very inspiring and you can build great relationships with people who might be in the position to get your current or future projects off the ground or to the next level. Investing in yourself is the best thing you can do.

What type of struggles did you find along the way of finding success?

There are always weird little struggles popping up along the way but one obvious and very important one is money. Learning to charge correctly can be hard, you will lose jobs because you over quote or you will win the job but then realise you have under quoted because the job description wasn’t super accurate. It is just a learning curve and the way through it is with experience and mentorship. One important thing is to work out who you are as a photographer and steer your career in that direction, you can still be diverse but be focused on just a few select styles of work. If you love the outdoors, wildlife and nature you really won’t be happy shooting product photography for a teddy bear company, and vice versa.

What is your greater mission as a photojournalist? What is it you want to share with the world?

I want my work to make people think a lot deeper than they currently do, human attention spans have gone. For the most part is has turned into a LIKE-fest. Just double tap, “LIKE” then keep on scrollin’. I want viewers to look at my work and wonder, to stimulate some thought, read the captions or text.

What has been your biggest accomplishment and favourite piece of work and why did you decide to do it?

The past couple of years have been really great, I have been given the opportunity to shoot some amazing assignments. Photographically, my Tasmanian devil project has been the most consuming thing I have ever done, it has grabbed me and I’m a little scared I won’t be able to stop when the time comes. This body of work is special to me, it started as a personal project to keep busy after living in Singapore for nearly two years, I simply wanted to get some good shots of wild Tasmanian devils, it has since grown and I am working to document as many aspects of the devil’s life as possible. The work has been published with numerous stories including National Geographic and a 5-page feature in BBC Wildlife magazine.

Many of your works involve animals, such as ‘The life of a Tasmanian Devil.’ Are you wanting to spread a wider message about animals? Why is it important to you to capture the devils in their natural habitat?

I’ve always had a fascination with wildlife, it is that curiosity thing again and wanting to learn as much as I can. I worked for the Singapore Zoo for almost two years documenting the zoo operations and what happens behind the fences; educational content, medical procedures, breeding programs etc. I learned a lot during my time there.

Wildlife do not have the luxury of being able to stand up and say “no, please don’t cut our home down”. They need as much help from humans as possible just to stay in existence. If it were up to the big corporations and incompetent governments, the forests, jungles and rivers would all be chopped and dammed simply for more profit and votes from a certain demographic. There needs to be a healthy common balance, I don’t think I’m alone when I say I am very tired of the same old greens versus logging bullshit argument, especially in Tasmania. It is holding the whole place back.

My camera trap work with the devil is all 100% authentic, no baiting or captive animals. Ethically it is just the right way to do it, and I do like the challenge. I mean, anyone could setup in a captive situation and get shots with absolutely zero effort, what’s the point of that? The variety of shots would be very limited in a captive setup and I have seen shots of devils which people have baited and they are terrible. The wildlife parks do play a part in the complete story of the devil though, it allows me to photograph visitor interactions, studio portraits etc. For where I want this story to eventually go, it needs to be photographed at the highest level of professionalism. It has taught me valuable skills which are transferrable to the next assignment involving camera trapping and natural history photojournalism. Snow leopards? Who knows.

On your series Nepal, what was your main purpose of documenting the trip? What was the reasoning behind capturing their culture? And how long did the project take to complete?

My Nepal trip was a bit over a month long and worked in two parts. The first was to document an ultra-run from Pokhara to Kathmandu, about 220kms. It was a joint charity run to raise funds for kid’s cancer in Tasmania and to help Nepalese children with schooling and to try and help rebuild Nepal’s reputation as a safe tourist destination, ever since the 2015 earthquake the region has struggled with visitor numbers.

The second part of the trip was trekking to Everest Base Camp via remote villages and photographing the local life. The Sherpa culture is still strong in the Himalayas and without their knowledge of the mountains the success rate of western expeditions would be very small. It was my first time to Nepal so I wanted to dig a little deeper than the common tourist snap and come away with some strong work I can put together as a photo story. I am already working on getting back to the Himalayas, I have been talking with some organisations and planning how we can work together to document some of their work in the Himalayas.

What type of projects do you see yourself wanting to capture in the future?

My goals are to keep pushing my way into shooting the interesting stories, wildlife conservation, cultural and adventure type features, ideally commissioned assignments from magazines, organisations and agencies. Similar to the Tasmanian devil and Nepal documentary work. I especially want to get back in the Himalayas, after my first trip there I knew it wasn’t the last.



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The Gap Draws Closer

By Lina Frunck, Holly Knight & Leif Enrique Salinas


In the Tweed Valley, surrounded by mountains and centred by the sacred Wollumbin - now known as Mt. Warning - was home to Indigenous tribes over 10,000 years ago. During the colonisation and the injustices that followed, their population dwindled like other tribes across Australia. Knowledge and heritage were lost. The repercussions continue today. Indigenous people are currently disadvantaged in school, discriminated against in workplaces, and their culture forgotten. This story is about communities coming together in different ways to right the wrongs in Australian history in terms of Indigenous culture. Meet young Indigenous students as they learn; elders who want to pass down their knowledge; and mentors who are motivated to help. 


In the middle of her career as an Indigenous teacher, Janette found herself walking down the hallway of Grafton High School to the principal's office. She had used the ‘I’ word.


“A kid went home and was talking to his mother about the history of this land, saying: ‘the teacher said that Australia was invaded!’,” she explains. Janette was that teacher and saying the invasion was not allowed.

More often than not, Australian students are taught about the first settlement rather than invasion, and the word itself suggest it was a peaceful transition.

“It wasn’t peaceful. We were the first to die of diseases, to be massacred, to be raped, to have our old people killed,” Janette explains.

The older generation was vital to pass down information to the future generations and their loss had major implications.


“Our old people, were our computer systems: they were our memory, they were all our languages. The whole lot went with them.” As a result, Indigenous people in Australia have limited knowledge on their own culture and their languages are still dying.

Janette understands how confronting the word ‘invasion’ can be, especially in relation to Australia Day. For her, and the indigenous communities, it’s called Survival Day. Despite the current challenges that Indigenous people face, Janette is confident in their ability to overcome anything as a collective.

“We are still here, they tried to get rid of us,” she continues, “and we breed really well!”

Guyahyn Playgroup

School is not always a friendly place for Indigenous teachers.

“Especially if you’re the only one,” Janette adds.

Janette points out that the young, non-Indigenous students are not the problem; it is the older generations who never received proper education on Indigenous matters. Like the student’s mother in the example above, or the principal.

Before the national curriculum was put into effect and Queensland had its own curriculum, students in year 9 to 12 did not have to complete a history course, it was an elective. According to Janette, the young students at that time did not learn about Australia’s first history.

Today, in the national curriculum, history is mandatory for all grades. However, Janette mentions that they do not necessarily include aboriginal studies - it is still an elective and usually only available in year 11 and 12.

Plenty of teachers, however, are not comfortable teaching such a course.

“Every single syllabus tells you that you must teach lessons with an indigenous perspective,” she says, “but many teachers, because they’re non-Indigenous, feel really like a fish out of water.”

As a result, non-Indigenous teachers might skip over that material or work through it quickly to get it over with. This leaves Indigenous and non-Indigenous students with little knowledge of a prominent culture in Australian society.

Nerang High School Staff Interview

Janette was called to her son Jackson's school because he refused to participate in dance class. Jackson told his mother that his teacher - a non-indigenous woman - was showing them the Kangaroo dance all wrong. Jackson was not allowed to dance it the way he had been taught by his Indigenous community, so he had refused to dance at all.

“I had to support him in that! And then, I had to try to talk to that principal, who I’m sure still hates me today,” she recalls.

Janette thinks the school should have had an Indigenous dance teacher come in instead, but often they are not paid for their services.

“They want to teach Japanese in that school, they’d find someone who was Japanese and speak Japanese and they’d pay him.” It should be the same for Indigenous people.


Leonie Thompson


“I really like being a mentor at AIME because I think it’s important for these kids to have role models and I love giving back to my community where I can and helping people succeed and have opportunities after high school.”

Giselle Kilner-Parmenter 

"As a mentor, i enjoy having the opportunity to hear each mentees individual story and in return share with them my own journey through high school and AIME. It is so rewarding watching students grow and progress when they realize that they have the ability to achieve what they desire after school."

Justine Omeenyo

“I love coming to AIME because AIME helps me know what I want to do in the future. They question me and help me think more into what I want to do.”

Karl Black

Program Coordinator - Bond University

I like working for AIME because it gives me the opportunity to impart some of the wisdom that I’ve picked up over the years, that I think the next generation, particularly Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander kids, might need to hear to help them become the leaders of tomorrow. I wouldn’t have gotten the opportunity to do that in any other capacity, other than with AIME”


Connor Diffey

Mentor Leader

“I really like mentoring, especially with AIME, because it gives Indigenous communities the opportunity to show who they really are and aspire to do better than what the general population of Australia thinks they can be.”

Zoe Mavromatis

I like coming to AIME because I get to reconnect with my culture that I don’t really get to be surrounded by at school, and am able to make new friendships with people I don’t usually see.”

Zamiesha Salam

I would recommend AIME to other Indigenous people because they can learn a lot from this program and it can lead them to what they want to do when they grow up. I think it’s a good way to inspire indigenous students because it’s just a great program, and everyone here is amazing.”

Valerie Tafola


“I love being a mentor at AIME, mainly because of the relationships and connections I have with the kids. It’s always exciting meeting new students and hearing about the journeys they have been through, and I love being able to help them through that journey.”

Declan Lamb


I find I’m not very good at communicating with kids this age, so it’s a good opportunity to learn about this age group and really try and give some of my skills and experiences that I took from high school and hand them on to these guys to see if they can use them to do alright at school.

Lachlan Tank

I like meeting all of the mentors. They are here to help us which is pretty cool.”


After 28 years of being an Indigenous teacher, Janette has had enough of restrictions and racist comments.

“I have no faith in the public education sector,” she says. Janette has worked to improve conditions for Indigenous people her entire career with little to no impact. She has put her energy into mentoring programs for Indigenous students which can help them to go to university when the time comes. As an elder in the community, she is also involved in the playgroup run by Lara and Charrie. She sees the playgroup as a great opportunity for young Indigenous children to learn about their cultural language.

“The kids that are involved in these groups are way ahead of any kid intellectually, even in high school, because they have language,” she claims.

They have language, dance, and culture that most Indigenous children do not receive in school or at home.

While in the past, the Indigenous communities have lost a large chunk of their cultural heritage. Their future is focused on gaining it back and sharing it, just as they do in the playgroup.

“This is our cultural intelligence that nobody can take away from us,” Janette says.

John Kaye

The Argus' Leif Enrique Salinas interviews John Kaye, a visual artist from the Gold Coast. Originating from the graffiti scene, John has developed a unique and recognisable style. In the past, he has painted walls all over the world from South-America to Europe, and Asia. The past few years he has focused more towards painting on canvases and presenting his work through exhibitions. The latest one being "Desire & Compulsion".