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This Is Northern New South Wales

Conversations with The Elders


Everyone has a story to tell. Sharing insights about life can be immensely valuable both to those who speak and those who bear witness.  People who believe they are mundane, uninteresting, or unmemorable often possess a vivid, complex and rich body of stories just waiting to be told.

Last week I had the privilege of being the photographer for The Healthy Ageing Project. I met and photographed Hugh, Max, Avis, Feather, Vera, Nancy and Veet – they have all provided “Words of Wisdom” that accompany their portraits below.

The project aims to increase the opportunities for older people to participate in the community by providing recreational activities which promote connection and social support. Four stimulating and creative workshops titled “Life of Byron -Conversations with the Elders” have been held recently at The Byron Bay Community Centre. By giving seniors the chance to share their personal history/ life stories the project presents a rich opportunity for collaboration, personal reflection and the sharing of experiences and memories. What was gained in sharing stories within the group and with a larger audience challenges attitudes, builds relationships, engenders pride and forges connections across generations.

Furthermore the process of creating and sharing digital stories promotes images of older people in our community in a positive, interesting and creative way.  The tradition of story sharing values the older person’s voice in our community, enhances the wellbeing of older people and encourages community engagement.  Personal narratives can touch viewers deeply, moving them to reflect on their own experiences and treat older people with greater compassion. The sharing of stories has the power to make a real difference.

This project trained a group of volunteers in the art of collecting an older persons life story in a digital medium.

DSC_1087Max is 77 years old and says “Don’t just hear the slogans about health, learn about it and then work on making life fit and healthy”.

DSC_1132-2Feather is 77 years and says ” It’s OK to grow old just don’t grow up! “.

DSC_1165Veet is 78 and says “Think Less. Eliminate scrowly thoughts, smiley thoughts are better and no thoughts are even better! “.

DSC_1161Nancy is 81 Years and says “You will fall from your path and have to find your way back but that will make you stronger and more certain of your choices”.

DSC_1147-2Vera says “It’s better to have a short life as a tiger than a long life as a sheep”.

DSC_1049-2Hugh is 82 years and says “each life is an adventure”

DSC_1052-2Avis is 82 and says “If you have a dream, never give up on it because it’s never too late to achieve it”.