The A-team are shooting for success

Published on 09 Jun 2023


Members of the A team standing on a set of stairs, outdoors on a bright sunny day

  • APM Communities connected with Ace Camera Club in Albany for further development.
  • The club’s inclusive space is looking to create career opportunities.

Photographer James Wilson describes his craft as “get(ting) to share a captured moment with other people.”

As an art form, it is as close as we can physically get to seeing through the eyes of another person.

This empathy, observation and open-mindedness would benefit all of us, applied beyond art.

Albany local Bob Symons knows the world of photography and image processing is ever-changing – from film, digital to artificial intelligence-generated media.

He approached his local APM Community Development Team Leader Bronya at an APM volunteer access and inclusion event in February this year.

He saw the potential for collaboration to support some of his camera club’s participants into paid employment.

“Initially I met with Bob to work out a plan and it soon became clear to me that this would be a multifaceted project” Bronya said.

“The club needed support from a community group perspective and well as capacity building support for A-Team members to thrive and further their potential and Bob could not do it on his own.”

Meeting the A-team

The Ace Camera Club, better known as “The A-team” began in 2020, and is a group of people with disability who are passionate about photography.

The club darkroom and studio, along with their shooting locations are all wheelchair accessible.

A member of the APM Communities team described visiting the club for the first time as a “magic, inclusive space.”

The team saw great potential in the club, with members describing the space as “where I feel normal.”

The club grew from a seemingly “pleasant way to pass the time” according to Bob.

“After a few months we began to notice an increase in the quality of the images - the wonky horizons started to level out, limbs weren’t being cut off anywhere near as much.”

“Best of all, we were noticing that most of the photographers had a natural affinity for capturing what they saw from a refreshingly different’ perspective.”

“It’s obvious photography is an ideal vehicle for providing a centre around which we can build a strong, inclusive community that is capable of going way beyond just filling in time” Bob added.

The club and their activities provide a safe, creative space for interacting with peers, building confidence skills, and getting positive feedback.

A place where many people in the Albany community living with disability have found an opportunity to thrive.

The club’s limited resources had become stretched due to a lack of volunteers, and members could not reach their full potential without outside assistance.

Bronya saw that a growth plan was needed, and approached key stakeholders from the Albany community, inviting them to discuss partnerships and ideas on how to help.

3 members of the A team, embracing in a friendly hug, facing the camera

Growing capacity, community

APM Communities, the Albany Business Centre, Worklink, City of Albany, Impact Services, and the National Disability Services (NDS) organisation came together to brainstorm support solutions.

The result was an exciting partnership between the Ace Camera Club, Worklink and APM Communities.

One of the outcomes was to create employment, volunteer, and micro-business options for club members, including:

  • A paid community mentor for the club, provided by Worklink.
  • Mentoring for club participants, helping them create and access training programs with individual support.
  • Training in services such as photography, filmography and social media through Worklink.
  • APM Communities, the City of Albany and the Albany Chamber of Commerce have partnered to campaign local businesses to consider accessible work experience and employment opportunities.

Additionally, Bronya assisted the club to apply for sponsorship with the Bendigo Bank and they received a $5000 to go towards the project.

Camera club members will now pursue fee for their services in order to pay their members such as event photography, filmography, and social media management.

This community project could be game-changing in Albany, with tangible pathways to employment or self-employment for participants.

“We’re now seeing some really impressive young people joining who have some exceptional talents, and, given the right opportunities, are bound to make a valuable contribution to our community” Bob said.

“I was nearly at the point of closing the club because we were struggling to be able to give the support the club needed.”

“We can see the light at the end of the tunnel and could not have done it without APM’s assistance.”

With positive outcomes like these on the horizon, projects like these show the valued roles people with disability can bring to their community – all from supporting the growth of a local club.

APM Communities delivers NDIS Partners in the Community services in parts of Western Australia, Queensland, and the Northern Territory.

Our Local Area Coordinators (LACs) help people with disability, National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) participants, families and carers to identify and access the support they need.