19 June 2015
First time experiences and a new found sense of freedom were the inspiration behind a young participant involved in the 2013 As Eye See It (AESI) project and captured in a new video.
18-year-old Selina Company’s photographs captured her first time travelling on a plane, spending time in her favourite place because of the sense of peace it gave her as well as completing a reverse park.
“I choose the image of a car with L plates on it as to be able to drive on my own did the world of wonders for me,” said Selina.
“It’s great to have freedom and independence and to be able to achieve things by yourself.”
In the video Selina also tells her story of what it’s like to grow up without her mother and siblings from the age of 12 years, how she found ‘a family that’s not really your family’ through Southern Youth and Family Services and how she now lives independently with their support.
The agency has supported her with schooling, legal issues, accommodation provided her learn to drive lessons, a holiday in Melbourne (her first time flying),but most importantly, Selina said they had helped to give her confidence.
“I don’t know where I’d be today without them,” she said.
The As Eye See It project features a biennial photographic exhibition which provides a revealing insight into the lives of young people living in out-of-home care. The participants are given a digital camera and asked to submit five black and white photos about what is important to them, a photo of their eye and 25 words about each image.
Selina said that the As Eye See It exhibition helps young people to ‘talk’ about themselves through their photos.
“A lot of young people don’t know how to express themselves and having a project like As Eye See It is a great way to see the person as they see their life.” Said Selina
Simon Shields, a case worker from Premier Youth Works also shares the stories behind some of his charges work in the video such as participant Francis whose series of landscape photographs and titles allow him to share his journey.
“His photo was him being trapped away from family and he has evolved from that point, with his other photos show that being more open and happy.”
Peter Annesley, Senior Manager, Salvation Army Westcare who initiated the project in Victoria in 2008, shared the inspiration behind the project.
“It was simply about having the voice of the child heard,” he said.
“So much information comes from polling kids on certain issues, but nobody actually asks them what’s important to them, and kids are probably not going to tell you most of the time, but they will tell you through another medium – the camera.
”This is a project that enables, their voice to be heard in a raw, manner we’re not asking them questions except, you tell us what’s important to you, in five pictures , we’ll present them and show it exactly how it is, it’s not censored at all.”
The state based program has grown to a national initiative. In New South Wales the Office of the Children’s Guardian has managed the project since 2011.
The NSW Children’s Guardian Kerryn Boland said that every time we’ve undertaken the AESI project we’ve come away completely inspired.
“We have the opportunity to enter into their eyes, their vision, and see how they see the world.
“For policy makers and regulators that is the most important thing so we can ensure that our work is completely child focused and child centred.”
This year the exhibition will be held at historic Juniper Hall in Paddington, home to the Moran Arts Foundation, from 5-18 September 2015 to coincide with National Child Protection Week.
A digital exhibition will also be available on the NSW Children’s Guardian’s website: www.kidsguardian.nsw.gov.au.