Paper Tigers: Immigration and the Refugee Crisis

Photographs from the 'Paper Tigers' exhibition - an anthology of contemporary Australian photojournalism - capturing immigration in Australia and the refugee crisis around the world

By Head On Foundation

Paper Tigers

ABDULLATIF, MAY 2016, MANUS ISLAND, PAPUA NEW GUINEA (2016-05) by Brian CasseyHead On Foundation

Photojournalism, a mirror on society

Celebrating the best of Australian photojournalism, the Paper Tigers exhibition presents 60 images from 60 of the best Australian photojournalists. It is through the lens of these photographers that we understand and experience much of the world's events.

"The images selected represent a small snippet of what Australia was like over the past four decades. Images that defined modern Australia, images that reflect the culture we live in, images that make political statements and images of diverse aspects of our world." - Moshe Rosenzveig OAM, Founder and Artistic Director

Genocides Curse (2015) by Chris HopkinsHead On Foundation

Chris Hopkins

Genocides Curse

Chris Hopkins is an Australian freelance visual journalist and covers humanitarian issues globally. Chris’ work features in publications including The New York Times, The Guardian, The Age, The Sydney Morning Herald, The Jakarta Globe, and for UNHCR and Amnesty International.

In Genocides Curse we see Lawrence, a Rwandan Hutu, in his home at Nakivale Refugee Settlement, Uganda. After the 1994 Rwandan genocide, as the Tutsi minority exacted revenge on the Hutu, their previous persecutors, Lawrence fled to neighbouring Tanzania. 

Returning in 1996 he was imprisoned. Released after seven years, he returned to his wife and two children. Three days later, their home was attacked and burned down whilst they slept. 

Escaping, the molten roofing tarpaulin collapsed onto his back - Lawrence suffered third-degree burns and spent four months in hospital. His wife and children were killed in the attack.  Photographed as part of a larger body of work - ‘Living in the Shadow’, Lawrences' story was published in The Sydney Morning Herald in 2015.    

ABDULLATIF, MAY 2016, MANUS ISLAND, PAPUA NEW GUINEA (2016-05) by Brian CasseyHead On Foundation

Brian Cassey

Abdullatif, May 2016, Manus Island, Papua New Guinea 

Brian has had a decades long career as a freelance photojournalist initially in the UK and now long based in Cairns, Australia. He has worked extensively for numerous newspapers, magazines and wires in Australia and internationally.

In his work we see Iraqi asylum seeker Abdullatif Almoftaji, showing the scars of a beating by Manus Island PNG security guards and police. 

"Abdullatif was 17 when incarcerated on Manus Island by Australia in 2012. He was later allowed to work in PNG in the city of Lae. There he was beaten by locals, paid little and feared for his life. He returned to Manus preferring the perceived relative safety of the detention centre and other asylum seekers."

"However, following a drunken escapade on the local brew ‘steam’, Abdullatif was arrested, beaten and thrown into a Manus police cell where I found him wearing just torn shorts. Abdullatif faced several charges and was soon deported back to Iraq by Australian authorities."

""I still keep in touch with Abdullatif. When I last heard he was back in war torn Basra Iraq, an experience he described as 'living in hell". "There is nothing in Basra, only destruction, problems and killing for everything” he said.""

Rohingya refugees cross the Naf River into Bangladesh (2017-11-12) by David ParkerHead On Foundation

David Dare Parker

Rohingya refugees cross the Naf River into Bangladesh Sunday 12th November 2017

A Walkley Award-winning photojournalist and Nikon Ambassador, David Dare Parker has photographed for many national and international magazines throughout Asia, the Middle East, Europe and Australasia. 

After 16-20 days waiting on the Myanmar border, Rohingya refugees crossed the Naf River into Bangladesh using eight makeshift rafts constructed of bamboo and plastic palm oil containers. Often described as the "world's most persecuted minority", the Rohingya are a Muslim ethnic group from the Rakhine State in Myanmar. 

In October 2016, a military crackdown in the wake of a deadly attack on an army post, sent hundreds of thousands of Rohingya fleeing to neighbouring Bangladesh.  This most recent exodus from Rakhine state, Myanmar, to the makeshift camps that have sprung up in Cox’s Bazaar District, began on 25th August 2017, when militants from the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army targeted about 30 police posts and an army base, killing several people. 

So far more than 650,000 people have fled into Bangladesh, swelling the camps and creating a humanitarian crisis.

Train Bashing (2005-12-11) by Craig GreenhillHead On Foundation

Craig Greenhill

Train Bashing 

Craig Greenhill won the Walkley Award for News Photography in 2006 for his series of five images called Train Bashing, which horrified most Australians despite simmering discontent in Sydney's 'Shire' long being suggested in social media postings.

On 11th December 2005, Brent Lohman and other rioters attacked Ali Hashimi on a suburban train at Cronulla Station, in an event known as the 'Cronulla Riots'. 

Around 1,000 people charged the 750m stretch from Northies Hotel near the beach front to a train arriving that was said to have 'a pack of Lebanese' turning up for a fight. The crowd jumped the fence to search the waiting train, only to find two young men who were trying to leave the beachside suburb. 

Lohman led the attack followed by around 40 others who tore into the two innocent men of middle Eastern backgrounds. The day of violence initiated retaliatory attacks in following days across Sydney led by the Lebanese community.

Day In The Life of America (1986) by Gerrit FokkemaHead On Foundation

Gerrit Fokkema

Day In The Life of America 

Beginning in 1975, Gerrit Fokkema was a staff photographer with The Canberra Times. He later joined The Sydney Morning Herald newspapers and then the Good Weekend weekly magazine before leaving in 1987 to pursue a freelance career. 

Here we see retired poultry inspector Elizabeth Carey and her 16-month-old great-granddaughter, Brandy Rowden, at the social barbeque before a Ku Klux Klan cross-burning ceremony at a property near Flowery Branch, about 70 kilometres from Atlanta, Georgia.

In 1986, Gerrit was invited to participate in the ‘Day In The Life of America’ project and assigned to cover activities of the Ku Klux Klan (KKK) in rural Georgia. When the book was published, the publishers received hate mail and threats from both supporters and those opposed to the KKK. The image was published again in 2017 in The Good Fight: America’s Ongoing Struggle For Justice.

Sudanese Protest, 2008 (2008) by Angela WylieHead On Foundation

Angela Wylie

Sudanese Protest, 2008

Angela Wylie was a photojournalist at The Age for 26 years, where she hand-printed photographers’ works in the darkroom before taking on a cadetship. Angela has covered environmental and political stories across South East Asia and the Pacific. 

In Sudanese Protest, a woman weeps during a protest by members of Melbourne’s Sudanese community. They are upset at the lack of action by the United Nations (UN) towards increasing violence in the oil-rich disputed hot spot of Abyei, between North and South Sudan.

Melbourne’s Sudanese community are mostly refugees from South Sudan who have fled the 22 year-long war between the north and south. Approximately 1.9 million people have been killed.

Life and a Suitcase (2013-03-03) by Richard WainwrightHead On Foundation

Richard Wainwright

Life and a Suitcase

Richard Wainwright is a committed and passionate storyteller with a strong humanitarian focus. As an NGO photographer and filmmaker, he’s been reporting on social justice and human rights issues around the world for over 20 years. 

Wainright's image shows Zeena, 26, and her family's struggle to survive in Amman after fleeing Homs following the destruction of their house and bakery on 3rd March 2013. 

"We fled Syria across the border into Jordan and could only carry this suitcase with a few clothes and food for the baby. It was cold and dangerous, I cannot explain how awful it’s been for the children” 

Dreaming of becoming the first Muslim hijabi ballerina in the world (2016-01-31) by Edwina PicklesHead On Foundation

Edwina Pickles

Dreaming of becoming the first muslim hijabi ballerina in the world, 31st January 2016

Edwina Pickles is a staff photographer for The Sydney Morning Herald from 2000 to present. She is a Sydney born photographer who is interested in environmental portraiture and documenting Australian life.

In this photograph, taken in her family's backyard in Sydney, Stephanie Kurlow, 14, aspires to become the first professional hijabi ballerina in the world.

Explore more iconic imagery from Australia's best photojournalists, in our series of Paper Tigers stories.

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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