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Get Yourself in the Picture

What is it? Get Yourself in the Picture is a photography project that celebrates the tireless efforts of volunteers in the Mount Alexander Shire and promotes new opportunities for volunteerism within our community.

Who was involved? The project has been a collaboration between the Castlemaine Community House and Mount Alexander Shire Council. The project was jointly funded by the Department for Victorian Communities and facilitated by Deanna Neville, photographer and community development worker.

How did it work? In 2006 the Mount Alexander Shire Council department of community development received funding to celebrate the vast and dynamic contribution of volunteer groups in our Shire. An initial launch was initiated to celebrate Volunteer’s Week and a collection of images from the Castlemaine State Festival was distributed to the Castlemaine Community House and Pocket Gallery in Newstead. These images were provided by local photographers who had captured the vitality of the Festival as well as the behind-the-scenes activities that make it a vibrant part of the Shire’s bi-annual calendar.

The main Strengthening Volunteering project was the result of the collaboration of a number of local photographers who worked with the project facilitator to identify the best way to capture representation of volunteerisim across the whole shire. These volunteer photographers, firstly identified the groups that they themselves had local links with, then explored areas where there were still gaps where parts of the shire were not represented. This way, some of the smaller towns were identified and further links made. Other people interested in photography were invited to help out and finally the widest possible engagement with what resources we had was cast.

The photographic project included local volunteer groups and individuals across the shire. The exhibition was launched at the Mt Alexander Hospital in Castlemaine and then toured the shire to the Baringhup School, Maldon Neighbourhood Centre, Dig Café & Gallery in Newstead, Guildford General Store and Castlemaine Community House. A separate exhibition was launched at the Phee Broadway Foyer in Castlemaine with framed prints representing each of the volunteer community groups and organizations, which was then gifted to the groups in appreciation of their contribution to the Shire.

Strengths: Inviting contributions from a variety of local photographers, including amateurs, enabled a wide cross section of the community of volunteer groups to be included. Some had links with op shops through their local church, others were connected to Scouts because of their children’s participation and there were personal, known or word of mouth associations with emergency services, sports groups, festival volunteers, hospital support etc. This increased the likelihood that the subjects in the photographs would not be central to just one photographer, and instead built on the strengths of the cross-pollination of community connections.

Opportunities: This was a valuable way to inform the wider community about different volunteer organizations, an opportunity that the organizations themselves may not have on their own. It also made public the acknowledgement of the enormous amount of work volunteers contribute to society and instilled a sense of pride in the volunteers, who do it for nothing. The photos included accompanying text in the words of the volunteers, so we learned a lot about what they did and what it means to them.

Cat Brennan - Photographer (Committee Of Management, Guildford Public Hall)
www.catbrennan.com

"Photographs are provocative and emotive as a tool to engage a wider audience. Images have a powerful effect when used to portray an individual or a community social justice issue." - Cat Brennan

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