Last weekend I was very lucky to have the opportunity to film the first ever traditional Samoan Ava ceremony performed in Brisbane. The event was hosted by the Pasifika Young Peoples Wellbeing Network, a motivated group of young people who are keeping Pasifika Wellbeing and cultural traditions on the agenda. If you are interested to know more about what they are doing you can find them here.


Grass-roots Community Development in Action

Echunga, the Peramangk word for 'close by', is a wee town in the Adelaide Hills. Although it is only forty kilometres from the Adelaide city centre, there is no mains water or sewage connected. Residents are consequently a resourceful bunch collecting their own rainwater as well as roadside firewood in the frosty winters. I have spent some time collecting memories of this small town in photographs and film. Now together with local resident Rachel Ventor we have created a website celebrating what the community has to offer. The Echunga Community Association, also known as Heart of Gold, are a grass-roots organisation who have been working tirelessly to host events and create bridges within the community. You can see their upcoming events here. The website has been created to help create a strong sense of community and inspire residents to come together and realise their aspirations for the future of this small and increasingly diverse town.




This month I was lucky enough to work on a research project with DJ’s Frosty, Tim, Soti and Shana from Fresh Crew Radio in Brissy and was blown away by their energy and insight. Our student team from UQ teamed up with QUT public Health to explore what Pasifika youth in Brisbane identify as important to their well-being. We used story, participatory video, and a river of life activity to reflect on challenges, assets and recommendations for Pasifika youth. The research confirmed that stereotypes, stigmatisation and racism remain key challenges, as well as identity and belonging. Dreams the group identified for the future included achieving wider representation in the work force and breaking the silence around mental health. Key recommendations were to challenge a tradition of ‘toxic positivity’ where there is a culture of good vibes only and to regularly check in with friends. Most importantly, sensitive issues that exist in the Pasifika community were debated bringing the radio crew and their audience to agree that it is important that ways are found to make it easier to discuss mental health challenges. A big thank you to Elske Van de Fliert, Sarai Tafa and Jo Durham who were brilliant guides in the research process.


Photo taken by Jeni Lee at Pasifika Vibes, 2019


I am fascinated by the small stands people take against the things that trouble them, especially when they stage a stunt in the public eye. I am a strong believer that cultural shifts come through incremental changes. One day I would like to publish a book of photos of people around the world making small stands and staging their own mini revolutions! If you have any ideas for your own rebellious act I would love to talk to you about it…

Aaliya stages a small stand against plastic in the oceans.

Aaliya stages a small stand against plastic in the oceans.