Hi I'm Kate. I served with Victoria Police for 14.5 years across a number of surburban and regional work units. I resigned from the organisation in June 2021 at the rank of Detective Senior Constable after 6 years attached to a SOCIT (sexual offences and child abuse investigation team) office. I have many great memories of my time with Vic Pol but also many that haunt me and have left me changed forever. Photography became a coping mechanism and ultimately my pathway out of the policing profession and I feel incredibly blessed that I found a hobby and a passion which has now become my work.
The Blue, Black and White Project is a personal passion project for me. My hope is to photograph a number of current and former police members who have been impacted by workplace trauma doing the activity or hobby they love; the thing that is their outlet and their coping mechanism. I first had the idea many months ago and I feel an undeniable drive to pursue it, both as a creative endeavor and as a way of giving back to the Victorian policing community. At this point in time it is in its infancy and I cannot predict how the project will evolve or develop.
On an individual level for participants I hope being photographed allows them a chance to be acknowledged for what they have experienced but also celebrated for what they have overcome. Hopefully when times get tough the images can be a reminder for participants of that thing that is their passion and has helped them to manage, heal and process their trauma to date and will hopefully do so again in the future when the memories arise. Beyond that I hope that the images can serve as a reminder to all of us of the need to have interests outside of work and that maybe they can show those currently at their lowest point that there is hope and a life on the other side of acute workplace trauma.
The name for the project came to me in the small hours of the morning when I, like so many police members, could not sleep soundly or peacefully. Blue obviously represents the uniform we wear, black is the darkness we almost all experience at some time and white is the light at the end of the tunnel, the colour of hope. Beyond that it is a play on words of feeling like we've been beaten black and blue - whether that is physically or mentally, literally or figuratively - and also a reference to black and white photography which I adore and is how I envisage these images will best be edited.
At this time the expression of interest process is being opened to current and former members who have experienced workplace trauma, directly or indirectly. There is no requirement to have been formally diagnosed with any trauma related condition or to have had an accepted workcover claim. Participants need to have some sort of hobby or activity they participate in that has helped them manage, maintain or regain their mental health. Individuals from regional areas who are interested are encouraged to submit an expression of interest as there may be scope for them to be involved, either if they are coming to Melbourne or if I am travelling or holidaying in regional Victoria.
Honestly, it could be anything that is legal and positive. I hope to photograph a wide range of individuals and an equally wide range of activities which may include but certainly are not limited to;
All participants will receive high resolution, digital downloads of a selection of the images taken of them. Being part of the project may be a way for you to mark a milestone such as a number of days of sobriety, completion of a treatment program, a certain number of years of service or the end point of your career. Beyond that you get the satisfaction that by sharing a piece of yourself you may help and offer hope to one of our colleagues who is currently struggling and if we are really lucky the project might reduce, even a little, any remaining stigma around workplace mental health and illness.
By mere definition participation in a documentary photography project requires a level of preparedness to share yourself and your story. If you have doubts about whether you are ready to do this I suggest speaking to any treating professionals you are engaged with and/or significant individuals in your life. For any members who wish to participate and have a genuine concern around being identified (such as THASM files, attachment to certain work units, etc..) there may be a chance for you to be photographed in a non-identifying way using photography techniques such as silhouettes, shallow depths of field and close up or macro images that do not depict your face or identifying features. By request specifics of participants such as surnames and work units will not be disclosed.
Participants in the project will be required to sign a contract and model release giving their consent to participate in the project and for their images to be used as part of it. Images may potentially be shared online, on social media, in print and may be exhibited or displayed. I commit to not financially benefiting from the project and if any proceeds are collected in the future (such as if the photos are one day published as a book) all profits shall be donated to an appropriate charity such as Police Legacy or Beyond Blue.
Unfortunately, I cannot commit that every person that expresses interest will be able to be photographed as part of the project. At this time I cannot predict what the level of interest will be and don't want to make any promises I cannot keep.
There is currently no set timeframe or duration for the project. I intend to start photographing participants from Winter 2021 and envisage I will do so at a rate of 1-2 people per month, in and around my paid work. Participants will receive their digital images within 4 weeks of being photographed by me. Once I have established a portfolio of photographs I hope to seek funding by way of government or philanthropic grants to exhibit or otherwise display a collection of the images.
If you are interested in being part of The Blue, Black and White Project please submit your details via the adjoining online form.