The extraordinary lives and personal triumphs of Brisbane residents who have learned to bring meaning and independence to their lives despite serious adversity is the theme of a photo exhibition launching next week.

INDEPENDENCE is the result of the annual Wesley Mission Brisbane and Griffith University Queensland College of Art Photojournalism Competition, now in its ninth year.

The initiative allows students to delve into the inspirational lives of others, according to QCA Deputy Director Earle Bridger.

“Our young photographers have immersed themselves in this work to not only explore their art form, but to also bring awareness to the important role the non-for-profit sector plays within our community,” he says.

“Photographs remain an undisputed and powerful means of communicating stories — and our students have used their skills in a remarkable way this year to truly capture these extraordinary people.”

Wesley Mission Brisbane’s Executive Director Geoff Batkin says this year’s theme was chosen to celebrate the faces of clients who “have flourished despite going through some incredibly tough times”.

“Our clients come from all walks of life and seeing them gain meaningful independence is a real tribute to their personal strength and spirit,” he relates.

Clients captured in the exhibition include Terry Lennon and David Diehm (who have dedicated 40 and 34 years respectively to WMB’s MailpaQ enterprise); 28-year-old Todd Winther, who has lived with Cerebral Palsy for over a decade; and Debra Weeden who worked as a registered nurse until she suffered a heart attack at the age of 39 and was unable to continue doing what she loved.

The winning student will be presented with $1,000 at the official launch from guest judges Giulio Saggin (ABC News online photo editor) and Jorge Deustua (one of Peru’s most significant contemporary photographic artists). Four runners-up will receive prizes of $250.

The launch event runs from 9am — 11am, Monday 9 December at the Queensland College of Art Project Gallery, Webb Centre in South Bank. Volunteers featured in the exhibition and the participating photojournalism students will be available for media opportunities at the launch.

The exhibition is free and open to the public from 9am — 5pm, Tuesday 10 December to Saturday 21 December.

MEDIA CONTACT: Lauren Marino, 0418 799 544, [email protected]