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Family Keeps Us Going

Family Keeps Us Going expresses belonging, identity, memory, culture and land in the families of Aboriginal nations through a powerful series of photographs and oral histories.

Developed by photographer Jagath Dheerasekara in a long-term collaborative project with the storytellers and with Tharawal Aboriginal Corporation’s Waranwarin Child and Family Centre, it showcases families living in south-west Sydney in 2014–15. The selected images reflect the diversity of families and their connections to Country across Australia.

The Library’s acquisition of this work supports our Indigenous Collecting Strategy.

Jagath Dheerasekara is a politically engaged, award-winning photographer whose work also encompasses human rights and oral history. He grew up  in Sri Lanka and now lives and works in Sydney. Jagath, who has received the Amnesty International Human Rights Fund Grant, is a passionate facilitator of community cultural development art projects. 

20 out of these 30 family portraits are on display on Level 1, Macquarie Building until 28 August 2016.


Kevin McGuinness
Wiradjuri | b. 1976, Blacktown New South Wales

Kevin (McGuinness) and family at his home, Campbelltown, 2014 Melissa (partner) carrying Rio (son), Josie (mother), Luca (son), Kevin, Levi (son)

Photograph arranged and chosen by Kevin McGuiness

Kevin McGuinness
Janet Shillingsworth

Janet Shillingsworth
Ngemba | b. 1951, Brewarrina Janet (Shillingsworth) and family at Koshigaya Park, Campbelltown, 2014

L - R : Amarah (granddaughter), Janet, Sharni (granddaughter), Simone (daughter), Frances (daughter), Jarrod (grandson-in-law), Joseph (son), Natasha (daughter), Steven (grandson-in-law), Shiralee (granddaughter), Amber (granddaughter), Leanka (granddaughter) holding Emmon (grandson), Patricia (daughter-in-law) carrying Joseph Jr., (grandson), Parrie (daughter-in-law) carrying Malla-Kye (grandson)

Front row L - R : Kelton (great grandson) in pram, Terrance (grandson), Yarran (grandson), Tyleana (grandniece)

Photograph arranged and chosen by Janet Shillingsworth

Janet Shillingsworth

Kay Bussell
Yorta Yorta | b.1957, Swan Hill, Victoria

Kay (Bussell) and family at her home, Minto, 2014

L - R : Kay, Bill (son), Glen (son), Tiahni (granddaughter), Gregory (son)

Photograph arranged and chosen by Kay Bussell

Kay Bussell

Michael Paduch-Ducket
Dunghutti | b. 1970, Sydney, New South Wales

Michael (Paduch-Ducket) and family at Cascades, Mount Annan, 2014

L - R : Mary (wife) Michael, Tori (daughter), John (nephew)

Photograph arranged and chosen by Michael Paduch-Ducket

Michael Paduch-Ducket

Vicky Anderson
Kamilaroi | b. 1955, Coonabarabran, New South Wales

Vicky (Anderson) and family at her home, Campbelltown, 2014

L - R : Tarah (granddaughter), Maria (daughter), Nekaya (granddaughter), Darcii (granddaughter), Vicky, Paul (partner), Jane (daughter), Sonny (son) holding Laela (granddaughter)

Front row L - R : Sonny-Paul (grandson), Caitlyn (granddaughter), Curtis (grandson), Max (grandson)

Photograph arranged and chosen by Vicky Anderson

Vicky Anderson

Verna Barker
Kunja | b. 1956, Bourke

Standing L ~ R : Jemma (granddaughter), Summer (granddaughter), Verna, Chantae (granddaughter), Sky (granddaughter), Dorothy (daughter) carrying Kaiylah (granddaughter), Jacob (grandson)

Seated : Larry (son), Levi (grandson), Lucus (grandson)

Photograph arranged and chosen by Verna Barker

Verna Barker

Mona Porter
b. 1936, Armidale, New South Wales

Mona (Porter) and family at her home, St Helen’s Park, 2014

Standing (L - R) : Julie (daughter), Bruce (son), Jennifer (daughter)

Seated (L - R) : James (grandson), Mona, Mitchell (grandson)

Photograph arranged and chosen Mona Porter

Mona Porter

Stanley Mitchell
b. 1940, Atherton Tablelands, Queensland

In the b&w photo L - R : Tom (father), Henry (uncle), Jimmy (grandfather), Tom (uncle), Jonny (uncle)

Photograph arranged and chosen by Stanley Mitchell

Stanley Mitchell

Helen Slater
Kamilaroi | b. 1964, Caroona, New South Wales

Helen (Slater) and family at her home, Rooty Hill, 2014

L - R : Gail (sister) carrying Quentyn (nephew), Kym (niece), Cody (nephew), Aaron (nephew), Mollie (niece-in-law), Jaidah-Mae (niece), Ayana (niece), Andrew (nephew), Mick (brother-in-law), Kaye (sister), Jandamarra (nephew) holding b&w photo of Roland Percy (father) & Eileen Emily (mother), Jack (nephew), Helen, David (son) holding colour photo, Nesta (sister), Darren (nephew), Hannah (daughter), Lena (sister), Kayla (niece), Arika (niece) holding Mariah-Lilli (niece), Kiralee (niece), Kellie (niece-in-law), Jordan (nephew)

In colour photo : Lena (sister), Pearl (sister), Rona (sister), Rose-Marie (sister), Nesta (sister), Sue (sister), Vicki (sister), Kaye (sister), Carolyn (sister), Gail (sister), June (sister), Rick (brother), Helen, Eileen Emily (mother), Kevin (brother)

Photograph arranged and chosen by Helen Slater

Helen Slater

Larry Hoskins
Dunghutti | b. 1950, Kempsy, New South Wales

Larry (Hoskins) (L) with Chris (nephew) at the Tharawal Aboriginal Corporation, Airds, 2014

Photograph arranged and chosen by Larry Hoskins

Larry Hoskins

Tamika Briggs
Gumbaynggirr + Biripi | b. 1995, Campbelltown, New South Wales

Tamika (Briggs) and family at her home, Campbelltown, 2014

L - R : Nekisha (cousin), Tahlia (cousin), Kelly (aunty) holding Jaylan (cousin), Tania (mother), Tamika, Brittany (sister)

Seated L-R : Frederick (maternal grandfather), Margaret (maternal grandmother)

Photograph arranged and chosen by Tamika Briggs

Tamika Briggs

Harold ‘Buck’ Davis
Dunghutti | b. 1955, Kempsy, New South Wales

Harold (Davis) and family at his home, Leumeah, 2014

Standing L - R : Margaret (granddaughter), Margaret (daughter) carrying Kyleah (granddaughter), Chris (grandson) carrying Logan (grandson), Jamie (son), Harold, Isaiah (grandson), Roy (son), Jaiden (grandson)

Valerie (daughter) Timothy (grandson) holding Michaela (granddaughter)

Seated L - R : Wade (brother-in-law), Susan (wife), Arty (brother-in-law)

Photograph arranged and chosen by Harold Davis

Harold ‘Buck’ Davis

Margaret Russell
Ngunnawal | b. 1953, Yass, New South Wales

Margaret (Russell) and family, Bradbury 2014

L-R : Peter (brother), Amir (son-in-law ), Margaret, Nicole (niece), Lisa (daughter), Kaylene (daughter-in-law), Jarod (nephew) holding Olivia (niece)

L-R : James (nephew), Issac (grandson), Kaliesha (granddaughter), Peter Jr. (nephew) holding Jivarnah (granddaughter), Tailee (grandson)

Photograph arranged and chosen by Margaret Russell

Margaret Russell

Grace Connolly
Wiradjuri + Gunaikurnai  | b. 1960, Fairfield, New South Wales

Grace (Connolly) and family at her home, Airds, 2015

L-R : Brett (partner) carrying Nate (grandson), Grace holding George (father) and Roslyn (mother), Miya (granddaughter) holding photo of Joe (brother), Tammy (niece) holding photo of Patrica (sister), Marli (granddaughter) holding photo of Doris (sister), Renee (daughter) holding photo of Agnus (sister), Tori (granddaughter) holding photo of John (brother), Frank (brother) holding photo of Grace, Margaret (sister), himself & Vickie (sister), Roslyn (daughter) holding photo of Cedric (brother), Andrew (son) holding photo of Ralph (brother)

Photograph arranged and chosen by Grace Connolly


Grace Connolly

Josh Bell
Ngunnawal | b. 1981, Yass, New South Wales

Josh (Bell) and family at the Forest Lawn Memorial Park Cemetery, Leppington, 2015

Standing L - R : Yonne (aunty), Jodie (sister), Josh holding photo of Kathleen (mother dec.), Kim (sister), Andrea (partner), Melinda (cousin), Dean (cousin-in-law)

Seated L - R : Aidan (nephew), Jasmine (niece), Hayden (nephew-in-law), Keneasha (niece), Dharel (cousin), Travis (nephew), Jeff (brother-in-law), Jack (son), Brett (brother-in-law), Alana (niece), Braiden (son), Ryan (son), Tranaya (cousin) holding Amiyah (cousin), Jorja (cousin), Adam (nephew), Corey (son)

Photograph arranged and chosen by Josh Bell

Josh Bell

Ivan Wellington
Yuin | b. 1946, Kiama, New South Wales

Ivan (Wellington) , At Men’s Bush Camp, Minto, 2015

Photograph arranged and chosen by Ivan Wellington

Ivan Wellington

Jemma Milloy
Mandandanji | b. 1994, Campbelltown, New South Wales

Jemma (Milloy) and family, Bulli, 2015

L - R : Tamara (sister), Jemma, Karen (mother), Elwyn (stepfather), Kyle (brother), Dean (brother)

Photograph arranged and chosen by Jemma Milloy

Jemma Milloy

Jennifer Brown
Wiradjuri   b. 1946, Goulburn, New South Wales

Jennifer (Brown) and family at her home, Currans Hill, 2014

Standing L - R : Shaun (son), Jacob (grandson), Jennifer Jr (granddaughter), Sky (granddaughter)

Seated L - R : Tyleroan (grandson), Shania (daughter), Jennifer holding Amari (granddaughter)

Photograph arranged and chosen by Jennifer Brown

Jennifer Brown

Elizabeth Carpenter
Wiradjuri | b. 1953, Dabbo, New South Wales

Elizabeth (Carpenter) and family at her home, Ambarvale, 2015

L-R : Peter (partner), Elizabeth, Kerin (daughter), Tristan (grandson), Cayden (grandson), Jonathyn (grandson)

Photograph arranged and chosen by Elizabeth Carpenter

Elizabeth Carpenter

Alisha White
Kamilaroi + Wiradjuri | b. 1993, Campbelltown, New South Wales

Alisha (White) and family at her grandmother’s home, Leumeah, 2014

Standing L - R : Kristy-Lee (sister), Warren (father), Alisha, Francis (mother)

Seated L - R : Margaret (maternal grandmother), Beryl (paternal grandmother)

Photograph arranged and chosen by Alisha White 

Alisha White

Troy Ruttley
Kamilaroi | b. 1977, Gunnedah, New South Wales

Troy (Ruttley) and Elizabeth (mother) at his home, Minto, 2014

Photograph arranged and chosen by Troy Ruttley

Troy Ruttley

Shanell Dargan
Wiradjuri | b. 1993, Campbelltown, New South Wales

Shanell (Dargan) and family at her home, Mt Annan, 2014

L - R : William (cousin), Shanell, Patricia (maternal grandmother)

In the photo held L - R : Ernest (maternal grandfather), Shanell, Chantelle (mother)

Photograph arranged and chosen by Shanell Dargan

Shanell Dargan

Allan Rousell
Wiradjuri | b. 1979, Inverell, New South Wales

Allan (Rousell) and family, Rosemeadow, 2014

L - R : Ethan (brother), Kristy (partner), Allan, Veronica (mother), Ronald (brother), Raymond (brother)

Photograph arranged and chosen by Allan Rousell

Allan Rousell

Charles Mundine
Bundjulang | b. 1949, Grafton, New South Wales

Charles (Mundine) and family at his home, Ingleburn, 2014

L-R : James (brother), Roy (brother), Juanita (granddaughter), Mardi (daughter), Stephen (son-in-law)

L-R : Charles, McCallum (grandson), Ruby (granddaughter), Kal (grandson) with the ball , Leilani (granddaughter), Charleene (daughter)

Seated : Annemaree (sister-in-law)

Photograph arranged and chosen by Charles Mundine

Charles Mundine

Sidona Hodge
Kamilaroi | b. 1958, Coonamble, New South Wales

Sidona (Hodge) and family at her home, Eschol Park, 2014

L - R : Lorna (sister), Alison (daughter), Sidona holding Aurora (granddaughter), Jane (sister)

Photograph arranged and chosen by Sidona Hodge

Sidona Hodge

Ashlie Rogers
Jaru | b. 1991, Bowral, New South Wales 

Ashlie (Rogers) and family at the Australian Botanic Garden, Mount Annan, 2016

L - R : Charlie (father) Paula (mother), Aiesha (daughter), Kaleah (daughter), Ashlie, Bradley (partner)

Photograph arranged and chosen by Ashlie Rogers

Ashlie Rogers

Joyce Mate
Kunja | b. 1948, Brewarina, New South Wales

Joyce (Mate) and family at her home, Narellan, 2014

L-R : Gavin (son), Melissa (daughter-in-law), Joyce, Neville (partner), Danielle (daughter), Shane (son-in-law)

Seated L-R : Haigan (grandson), Brodee (granddaughter), Alix (granddaughter), Beau (grandson), Ethan (grandson)

In the framed photo : Cahan (grandson), Justin (son-in-law), Monique (daughter), Elle (granddaughter), Kye (grandson)

Joyce Mate
Samantha Walpole

Samantha Walpole
Dunghutti | b. 1971, Coffs Harbour, New South Wales

Samantha (Walpole) and family at her home, Glen Alpine, 2014

L - R : Nicole (daughter), Tiffany (daughter) , Kevin (partner), Samantha

Photograph arranged and chosen by Samantha Walpole

Samantha Walpole
Sue Austin

Sue Austin
Kamilaroi | b. 1951, Quirirndi, New South Wales

Sue (Austin) and family, Bradbury, 2014

L - R : Sharnie (niece), Leilan (grandnephew), Brianna (grandniece), Sue

Photograph arranged and chosen by Sue Austin

Sue Austin

Yvonne Wright 
Kamilaroi | b. 1950, Coonabarabran, New South Wales

Yvonne (Wright) and family at her home, Airds, 2014

L-R : Quintin (grandson), James (grandson), Yvonne, Lesha (granddaughter), Mare-Tika (granddaughter), Yvette (daughter), Rhonda (niece), Leeanne (daughter), Shakayla (granddaughter), Allen (son-in-law)

Photograph arranged and chosen by Yvonne Wright

Yvonne Wright