ACU exhibition sheds new light on world’s longest civil war


A new photography exhibition from Tuesday 5 to Saturday 30 August at the McGlade Gallery at Australian Catholic University’s (ACU’s) Strathfield Campus offers a glimpse of life in the shadow of the world’s longest civil war.

Titled ‘A Better Life: Refugees, Asylum Seekers and Our Response’, the exhibition features the work of artists such as Sydney-based photographer Tristan Velasco who toured refugee camps on the Thai-Burma border in 2013 and documented efforts made by ACU to help the people living there.

Despite changes in Burma, ethnic groups are still negotiating peace treaties, and Burmese fleeing the regime  are still living in nine camps scattered along the border with Thailand.

Since 2004 the Thai-Burma Program, which is a partnership between ACU and universities from the United States and Canada, has provided almost 90 young refugees with a tertiary education.

Students in camps at Mae Sot, Ranong and Bangkok attend 18 months of online and face-to-face lessons to achieve a Certificate or Diploma in Liberal Studies. Graduates of the program who have resettled in Australia, Canada or the United States have been accepted into university courses on the basis of their ACU qualification.

The exhibition also brings together the work of three other local groups: the Australian Catholic Migrant and Refugee Office (ACMRO), The End Child Detention Australia Coalition, and an anonymous voice from the detention centre on Nauru.

McGlade Gallery Curator Lachlan Warner said that Velasco’s images captured the extraordinary resilience and optimism in the faces of people who were largely neglected by the rest of the world.

“He caught some amazing images of people that have been to some degree forgotten by the world as they eke out an existence in the refugee camps on the Thai-Burma border,” Mr Warner said.

“There is a joy and excitement that is palpable in the photographs. For all the hardship, there is a resilience and determination still there. What ACU is able to do with education is amazing. We give these talented students a real start with tertiary education, and it is an honour to witness it.”

Event details


Tuesday 5 August – Saturday 30 August

Gallery hours Monday – Saturday, 11am-4pm

Opening night

Tuesday 5 August 2014, 6pm–8pm


McGlade Gallery, 25A Barker Road, Strathfield NSW 2135



Sneak peek

Please visit the ACU Photo Gallery or the ACU Thai-Burma Program website

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