Reframing homelessness

Reframing homelessness

Final year photography students have reshaped their perception of homelessness through a collaborative project with RMIT ABC Fact Check.

Despite being an ever-increasing problem in Australia and around the world, homelessness is very often hidden and frequently inaccurately represented through photography.

When Bachelor of Arts (Photography) students Peter Pizzati, Kaihao Luo and Stine Bang Hansen set out to explore the issue as part of a final-year project, they learned much more than expected.

The students used ‘Without a home’, RMIT ABC Fact Check’s homelessness interactive, as a starting point for their research, and also volunteered every week at The Big Umbrella Real Meal soup kitchen for the duration of the semester-long project.

Photograph entitled 'Perpetual Guest'.

Based on their experiences, they produced a series of poetic still life photography and text.

Pizzati said the project changed his perspective on the issue of homelessness and motivated him to challenge inaccurate stereotypes.

“Too much photography represents homeless people as rough sleepers, when actually only 7% of homeless people actually live on the streets,” he said.

“It’s amazing how little it takes for someone to become homeless.”

Photograph entitled 'First night at the shelter'.

Luo said he was motivated to take on the project because of a desire to understand the situation and how he could help.

“It’s important to re-think how we can use photography as a powerful tool to tell these stories,” he said.

RMIT ABC Fact Check Creative Content Lead Devi Mallal and Fact Check Researcher Ellen McCutchan met with the students throughout the project to share their experiences of producing the homelessness interactive. 

Mallal said the main point they tried to impress was that many homeless people would not want to be photographed because of the stigma attached to their situation.

“They needed to be able to think laterally – maybe you can’t do a portrait, but you can still capture a poetic space, through silhouette, still life or text, explaining someone’s condition without objectifying them.”

The organisation is a nonpartisan and non-profit collaboration and has worked closely with students since the since it was relaunched in 2017.

“It’s great to see first-hand how people of a different generation interpret the content. It’s really valuable for us, especially when we are making content for young audiences,” Mallal said.

The photographs will be displayed outside the Fact Check office in the RMIT Media Portal on Open Day, Sunday 11 August.

National Homelessness Week (4 August - 10 August) provides a chance to raise awareness of homelessness across Australia.


Story: Jasmijn van Houten

08 August 2019


08 August 2019


  • Fact Check
  • Media & Communication

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RMIT University acknowledges the people of the Woi wurrung and Boon wurrung language groups of the eastern Kulin Nation on whose unceded lands we conduct the business of the University. RMIT University respectfully acknowledges their Ancestors and Elders, past and present. RMIT also acknowledges the Traditional Custodians and their Ancestors of the lands and waters across Australia where we conduct our business - Artwork 'Luwaytini' by Mark Cleaver, Palawa.