Social documentary photography; Kennedy Hill by Ingetje Tadros

Kennedy Hill is a remote Aboriginal community in Broome in the north-west of Australia in the Kimberley. The community exists in the shadows of Western Australian premier Colin Barnett’s commitment to close down approximately 100-150 Aboriginal communities in Western Australia.

Kennedy Hill is a remote Aboriginal community in Broome in the north-west of Australia in the Kimberley. The community exists in the shadows of Western Australian premier Colin Barnett’s commitment to close down approximately 100-150 Aboriginal communities in Western Australia.

There are more than 270 remote Indigenous communities in Western Australia and between them they are home to 12,000 people. Australian award winning Photojournalist Ingetje Tadros has spent four years working with the Aboriginal people and documenting the confronting daily life within the Aboriginal community. Her concerns for the community stretch from the old uninformed line that demonises Aboriginal men by insinuating that Aboriginal women and children are under great threat by the men in the communities to a lack of affordable accommodation while over seven per cent of the Kimberley population is homeless, and ninety per cent of this homelessness is comprised by its First Peoples.

Aboriginal elders and leaders are shocked and feel this is a big threat to their people and believe the impact of such a move could be almost as devastating, forcing people out of the communities would just relocate and intensify underlying problems of poverty, disadvantage and unemployment. History is repeating itself!

Much of the Kimberley is now under a regime of liquor restrictions, and some believe the drying up of Central and Eastern Kimberley towns has driven many of the most hardened and troubled alcoholics to Broome, where the booze continues to flow. So the problem of alcohol in smaller communities and the restrictions has moved the problem to the larger centres. 

The hill is significant to indigenous people in the region and the presence of a large shell midden immediately adjacent to the community is testament to this significance. It’s been a living area since before white occupation or colonisation….since time immemorial.

Now the question remains, which Aboriginal communities will be closed?

Kennedy Hill sits in one of the most pristine real estate in the town of Broome. The Community is slowly being dismantled. What the future holds for it’s future residents is unknown.

“We need new houses !” Stuart Ah Choo commented while he was totally stressed out. The first phase of the demolition of Kennedy Hill began on 15 September 2014. It has the community divided and given a lot of stress to it’s residents. 7 houses out of the 12 remain.

“Danger, Demolition work in progress” This condemned house was for many homeless a home. After the house was demolished on September 22nd and a gate was placed, many of the homeless people made camp outside the gate and still remain there till this day.

Meah (5 yr) standing outside her family home, it’s 7.30 AM and watching the bulldozer demolishing Kennedy Hill’s Office. Now four houses and one Office have been demolished, seven houses remain. Recently the Premier of Western Australia, Colin Barnett, committed to closing down approximately 150 remote Aboriginal Communities in Western Australia. What will the future be for Kennedy Hill?

Kids playing at their family home in Kennedy Hill, despite poverty children are being children. Quane (1 yr), Meah (3 yr), Kitana (3 yr) and Marjorie (4 yr) (from L to R)

Chrissy turned 21 and the Seaside Drifters Band from One Mile Community (Broome) came over to Kennedy Hill for a gig and played in the old office of Kennedy Hill which has now been demolished.

Liam, Charlette, Quane, Marjorie and Megs relaxing while watching tv in Charlette’s room. Tourists fly in from all over the world to Broome to enjoy the Cable Beach resorts and the surrounding pristine environment but for the residents of Kennedy Hill this reality is totally removed from their world.

Amanda Lewis lays on the couch in Esther’s house in Kennedy Hill wondering what the day will bring. The word is that Kennedy Hill will slowly but surely be completely demolished. It is now seven dwellings left. When all the dwellings are gone, where will all the people moved on by the Mallingbar Aboriginal Corporation go? The land may either be sold or in some sort of joint venture developed.

Esther Yumbi having breakfast in her home in Kennedy Hill. Due to excessive alcohol consumption she has been diagnosed with diabetes and is now being treated with dialysis in Perth Hospital 2300 km away.
Many members of Aboriginal communities are traumatised by events from the past and for not being recognised. And for that, self-medication in the form of alcohol, cannabis, gambling, violence and amphetamines leads to health problems, unemployment, sexual and physical violence, foetal alcohol spectrum disorder, etc. until the circle breaks, as in people committing suicide, ending up in jail or just surviving till the end.

Bruce Njamme has been coming and going to Kennedy Hill for a few months, living it rough and always has been very kind to me and one morning he said to me, “Hey Ingi from now on we will call you ‘Nagala’ (sister) then Bruce said “I want to sing a song for you.” Then he walked over to an old and abounded car outside the fence in the sand dunes, sat on the bonnet and said, “I am from Balgo from the desert and I sing this song for my family who all passed away and for my father who is Sunfly. The song is called Worray Yagga Yagga.” It was a very emotional song and than he burst out in tears. Many of these people who live in and around Kennedy Hill are so far from their country.

Sussanne Charmawina is homeless and leaving her bushcamp in the sand dunes in Kennedy Hill to go to Haynes Oval in Broome’s Chinatown district. Many homeless sit in the day time at Haynes Oval which is a large park in the center of Broome. People are drifting in from remote communities around the Kimberley as Broome is exempt from the tight liquor restrictions in place in the rest of the Kimberley. Sussanne is on the waiting list for a house.

Alan Dededar leaving Kennedy Hill and mentioned to me he is on his way to Centacare. Centacare Kimberley in Broome provides a range of services to people who are homeless, at risk of becoming homeless, or are experiencing financial hardship. Centacare have an outreach team that engages with people sleeping rough throughout the Broome area with a primary focus on supporting them to access social housing. Centacare runs a homeless breakfast. Alan is from Balgo a dry community (alcohol is not permitted) and is squatting in a condemned house in Kennedy Hill. (This house has now been demolished).

About Ingetje Tadros

Ingetje Tadros occupies a unique place in the world of social documentary photography, capturing the triumphs, tragedy and diversity of people’s lives through her intuitive storytelling. With a passion deeply rooted in humanitarian causes, her photography is often confronting and provocative to evoke a powerful message, telling people’s stories firstly at a community level and then to provide a conduit for communication between different cultures on a global platform.

Born in Holland, in her formative years Ingetje was always documenting the life of people around her, ultimately combining her passion for photography and travel to where her work now takes her around the globe. Her creative vision has been the driver to authoring several documentary projects as diverse as Mental Health in Bali, Leprosy in India, Trans-sexuality in Asia and Death Rituals in Egypt. Ingetje’s recent documentation of Kennedy Hill and important work This Is My Country involved documenting the complexities of race and culture of Australia’s indigenous people – the Aboriginals. 

She has worked on assignments for some of the world’s best known online and print magazines. Her clients have included STERN, Amnesty International, Fairfax Media,  Sydney Morning Herald, Australian Geographic, The Australian, The Internationalist, News Corp, Getty Images, Daily Mail, DOC Magazine and many more. Recent publications include This is My Country in STERN (2016), Kennedy Hill (Fairfax Media 2015), Caged Humans in Bali (Daily Mail 2014). Ingetje’s work has been recognised by a number of photography’s most prestigious honours. [Official Website][Book:This is My Country]

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