Telling the Stories of Australia’s Refugees, Photo by Photo
A “Humans of New York”-like project introduces Australians to some of their newest neighbors.
Photographer Brandon Stanton’s famous “Humans of New York” project—you know, the one that’s taken over your Facebook with small, poignant stories and photographs of everyday New Yorkers—is so ubiquitous that it’s reached the parody phase. “Millennials of New York” revels in the overdramatic, pedestrian travails of young people. A visiting Australian comedian poked gentle fun at Stanton’s project by posting his own artful Instagram photo—and sob story.
But leave it to another Australian to remind the world of the power of the “Humans of New York” format. Sydneysider Nicola Gray uses a new online photography project to introduce her Facebook audience to an Australian refugee—a “New Human of Australia”—every few days.
As debates on the ongoing refugee crisis rage in Europe, Australia has its own controversial policies, including using navy ships to turn back asylum seekers before they reach the country’s shores. Gray wants to remind Australians that there are real human lives at stake.
"I've been around all different types of people my whole life and I've never seen people as anything other than people. I was quite surprised by the disconnect in mainstream media,” Gray told Mashable Australia.
"’Humans of New York’ really captures what I wanted to do with this project,” she continued. “It humanizes faces on the street, and makes you care about those who could be little more than passing strangers. Hopefully this does the same."
The project’s biggest challenge? Gray says that once she asks refugees’ for their stories, they never want to stop telling them.
“I often get what I want in the first five minutes but they just keep talking,” she told the Australian news site news.com.au. “What I get out of it personally is a sense of gratitude, but for them, it’s quite therapeutic.”