From TAFE to Town Hall: IMS Refugee Week Creative Expressions Competition Awards Night

Keen readers might recall my brief 1-day photography teacher stint back in May. To recap – a volunteer coordinator that I met last year through my work at Culture Mix had reached out to ask if I’d like to help run some photography workshops for Illawarra Multicultural Services (IMS). They were running their annual Creative Expressions competition in celebration of Refugee Week, and had added in a photography category. And so I excitedly headed to TAFE and worked with a few different groups of English learning students, encouraging them to capture what freedom means to them.

Well, last week I had the incredible opportunity to attend the awards dinner for the Creative Expressions Competition, and see the winning entries. Held at The Music Lounge in Wollongong Town Hall, this event was a beautiful follow-up to my experience at TAFE earlier this year – an experience that I found exceptionally fun and interesting, both personally and in a community involvement sense. It was exciting to see that one of the photography category winners was a woman who attended one of my workshops at TAFE!

The dinner celebrated the creativity of over 400 participants, ranging from 7 to 72 years old, representing over 32 different countries. It was truly inspiring to see such a diverse group come together to share their art, writing, and photography. Of course, I had only had the pleasure of meeting with the TAFE students that were given the option of entering the photography section of the competition. So it was interesting to hear moving pieces of writing and poetry, as well as creative artworks by other entrants from a range of other schools and programs.

I was there wearing two hats alongside my lovely partner – as a volunteer with IMS and as a journalist with The Illawarra Flame. This dual role allowed me to appreciate the event from different perspectives, noting all the different incredible organisations and initiatives that helped put this competition together. I’m excited to share a more formal account in an upcoming news piece for The Flame, along with more photographs.

It was a pleasure to be presented with a formal certificate of appreciation for my assistance in volunteering with IMS, accompanied by a rather thick book on the history of Wollongong. I’ve already had a flick through the book, scanning it for names of relatives passed. I am fully aware of the privilege of doing so, and I hope that future generations of refugees who choose to settle in Wollongong will also get to experience the excitement of seeing their family names in history books about the Wollongong community in the years ahead.

It was an honour to attend this event, and meet everyone that I have in the process. I congratulate the participants and winners of this year’s competition, and thank organisations such as IMS and The South Coast Writers Centre for making events such as these possible. I am so humbled and grateful to have had this experience and get involved in my local community.

Gallery: IMS Refugee Week Creative Expressions Competition Awards

Gallery: IMS Refugee Week Creative Expressions Competition Awards

Charity & Not for Profit

At Neesh Photography, we’re dedicated to making a positive impact through our “Charity Clicks” initiative. We are excited to give back to the wonderful community that supports us by providing free photography services to not for profit organisations and charities. We believe in doing what we can with the skills that we have to assist those who work tirelessly to make a difference in our community and beyond. Our goal is to support these organisations by capturing their stories, events, and impactful initiatives with the same dedication and precision we bring to all our projects.