Long Walk To Treatment
In September 2018 I was in Australia working on a photography project about drug consumption rooms. While I was there the team involved in creating campaigns for Uniting (the organisation that runs the Medically Supervised Injecting Centre) asked if I would be willing to spend a day travelling to photograph a young woman involved in their Fair Treatment campaign. She was going to be doing a part called the ’Long Walk to Treatment’. Of course I said yes, who wouldn’t? But it did almost kill my camera.
Two key workers and Shantell arrived and we started our drive, I chatted with her, mainly smalltalk, but making sure to check that she was comfortable with me taking the photos. I wanted to be sure she fully understood what both Uniting and myself would be using the photos for and how widely they would be seen. For most people I photograph I tend to use the catchall term ‘activist’ and rarely mention if people use drugs, I’ve written before on why I shy away from giving more information than that, but in this case she was going to be part of a national campaign based on her accessing treatment, so I wanted to be sure she knew what putting her image in the public domain would mean.
Below you can see a selection of the images plus the final image. I’d like to thank Shantell for allowing me to photograph her, and Uniting for giving me the opportunity. As a photographer working in harm reduction having the opportunity to contribute to campaigns like this, and meet amazing people is a true privilege.
Killing the camera?
Don’t worry, as soon as I got back to the UK I cleaned the sensor… 5 times.
Shantell is an advocate for the Fair Treatment campaign. She lives 400km away from the health care services she needs to be well. Uniting Church and their partners are drawing the line on drug policy and taking half a million steps from Dubbo to Parliament House in Sydney, so Shantell and everyone affected by drug use can have a better future.