Warning to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders: This website contains images of deceased people.

Stories from Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People with Disabilities


‘I would like to show my respect to the traditional custodians of the land on which the project was conceived and realised, and to acknowledge their Elders, past and present. The Unfinished Business project would not exist without the guidance and cultural knowledge of the Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who have contributed to it.

Unfinished Business reveals the stories of 30 people with disability from Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. Through their involvement in the project each participant draws much-needed attention to critical issues that impact on their lives. Each participant’s story is complex and intertwined with Australia’s political and social history, which has resulted in today’s high rates of disability in Aboriginal and Torres Strait communities.

The 3D lenticular process itself, intensifies the emotion felt by the audience. The desire to reach out and touch the image, invites the audience to transfer the physical desire into an emotional one, and to reach out emotionally to the humanity that entwines us all together. Aiming to reveal the unique essence of each person's story, the images take a new visual realm by presenting these narratives in a more personal, in-depth way. The audience has the opportunity to hear the participants speak in their own words, which draws them closer, into the still, penetrating gaze of the participant’s faces forming a close emotional connection transcending the traditional audience-subject divide. 

The Unfinished Business exhibition was launched in September 2013 at the Palais des Nations in Geneva by Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, then Director General of the United Nations Office in Geneva, and Peter Woolcott, Australia’s Ambassador to the United Nations. The work was displayed to coincide with the 24th Session of the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), a body within the Office of the High Comissioner for Human Rights. The project was supported by the First Peoples Disability Network and the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, through the Australian Mission in Geneva. In December 2013 the exhibition was displayed at the World Health Organisation Headquarters in Geneva.   Unfinished Business was a part of Australia's official contribution to the United Nations 2014 World Conference on Indigenous Persons. This was supported by the Australian Government through the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Program, an initiative of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

The narrators are predominantly high-profile Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who have given their support to the participants and the concerns that they have expressed. All the narrators have contributed in their own right to improving the human rights and lives of all Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders.

The exhibition consists of 3D lenticular backlit photographic portraits of the participants plus a narrative-style video interview of each participant: the interviews were made by Dieter and Liam Knierim. This project also has an app which will enable people with sensory, cognitive and learning impairments to engage with the project: see www.unfinishedbusiness.net.au.

We cannot argue when someone says, “I feel …” – it is not our right. It is part of our own journey to learn empathy rather than compassion. Our own reaction exposes us to ourselves, and reminds us that we all need the ability to listen when someone

lays their naked soul in our path.’

BELINDA MASON - Photographer

Belinda Mason is a Sydney-based photographer whose work focused on taboo social issues that explore social taboos. “Intimate Encounters” about sexuality and disability, toured Australia for 7 years and internationally shown in London, Barcelona, Seville, New York,Toronto and Auckland.

Her recent work of 2014, "Outing Disability" engages the Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex and queer (LGBTIQ) people with disability who are often excluded from both disability and LGBTIQ communities. They face multiple discriminations that can inhibit their ability to experience sexuality, sex and gender as positive aspects of their lives.

Belinda is the 2008 winner of the Moran Prize for Contemporary Photography. Images from her “Black on White” series won her the 2008 Human Rights Award for Photography. In 2013, “Black on White” displayed at the State Library of NSW the exhibition featured 197 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islands voiced their opinions to white Australia. The series “Maningrida” also won the BHP Images of the Outback award for 2003, 2004 and 2013 and 3rd Place in the International Spider Awards for Photojournalism in 2008. The Maningrida series is part of the ACMP Collection 10, and NSW Art Gallery, Shoot The Chef exhibition. She is also the winner of the 2008 Iris Award from the PCP.

Her series of 3D lenticulars exploring sport and women, challenged the sterotypes of race and gender and body image, and the diversity and reality of women who play sport.

Her most recent work features portraits of the “Black Diggers” in recognition of the invaluable contribution Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders people in the Australian Defence Force. This collection is held by the University of Western Sydney.

Currently, Belinda is working with Carolyn Frohmader from Women With Disabilities Australia on a project that reveals the stories of women with disabilities who experience violence and women who have acquired their disability as a direct result of violence.

Belinda is first generation Australian and was born on Ngarrindjeri Land, grew up on Kaurna Country and home is  Gadigal Country.

Portrait of

Aunty Gayle Rankine


First Peoples Disability Network.

“The First Peoples Disability Network (Australia) is the National peak disability organisation representing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with disabilities and their families. By any measure Indigenous Australians with disabilities are the most disadvantaged Australians often facing multiple barriers to their meaningful participation within their own communities and the wider community. We are aware through our engagement with other Indigenous people with disabilities from around the world that they too often face multiple barriers with most Indigenous people with disabilities living in poverty.

Our organisation has been aware of the quality and significance of photographer Belinda Mason’s work for some time now. We are pleased to work together with her in promoting and protecting the human rights of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with disabilities, and as a consequence highlighting the unmet needs of other Indigenous people with disabilities around the world. A critical way of achieving this is by using the powerful medium of photography. We know that Belinda undertakes her work in a sensitive and culturally appropriate way. We strongly encourage you to partner with us in this critical groundbreaking project.”

Damian Griffs, Executive Officer First people Disability Network