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Adam sells the Big Issue on his pitch near the Queen Street Mall.
Adam sells the Big Issue on his pitch near the Queen Street Mall. Photo: Adam Robert Young

Photos reveal face of Aussie poverty

Queensland’s  Anti-Poverty Week launch will unveil the surprising face of poverty in Australia. Rohan Salmond reports.

For more than ten years, Anti-Poverty Week has been a reminder for Australians that poverty is a real part of their community and their world. From an Australian point of view, poverty can feel like a distant, abstract problem, but for Geoff Batkin, executive director of Wesley Mission Brisbane, an effective response is always local.

“The whole purpose of Anti-Poverty Week is to undertake community engagement, research and other activities at a local level to highlight issues of poverty both in Australia and also overseas,” says Geoff.

“It’s all about the nature of poverty in Australia and overseas and what, as responsible people, we can do to highlight the issue and hopefully come up with some form of solutions for it in a local context.”

This year, Wesley Mission Brisbane has joined the Youth and Family Services (YFS) as a co-chair for Queensland’s  Anti-Poverty Week, and its new position has given the Anti-Poverty Week events a bit of Wesley Mission Brisbane flavour.

“This year the Anti-Poverty Week launch at Brisbane Square Library will coincide with a photojournalism project we have been doing with Griffith University students for the past 10 years,” says Geoff.

“The ‘Through My Eyes’ exhibition highlights the extraordinary stories of everyday Queenslanders. The photos capture what words and stories cannot. They show us what hardship, drought, overcoming adversity, compassion and hope looks like. Past and present students have photographed clients at a variety of community service organisations across the state and in rural and remote areas to bring these important issues and heartfelt stories to Brisbane audiences.”

The events organised throughout Anti-Poverty Week will raise awareness of the hardship in our own backyard.

“For a lot of people it’s hidden,” says Geoff. “Effectively it’s people on low or no incomes who may or may not be connected into the community services, who, because of the cost of basic housing, electricity and other costs have very little left in order to effectively engage in the community.

“It can happen to a lot of people who might be one pay cheque away from being homeless.”

The free “Through my eyes” photojournalism exhibition will open 11 October at Brisbane Square Library and run until the end of November. Other events include a “Walk Against Poverty” for the whole family on 17 October at Sandgate. For more information visit antipovertyweek.org.au

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