Alesia Tabone photo

Photo project sheds light on Defence struggles

Matilda Dray 12 July 2019

The photo project Home: No Man’s Land focusses on Defence reintegration into civilian life.

Griffith University Honours student Alesia Tabone is drawing on her family history in the military for a photography project examining the struggle military personnel face when they return to civilian life. Alesia has been working on the project for the past four years, and her first piece of work from the series is titled Home: No Man’s Land.

“They laced up their boots, kissed their loved ones goodbye and answered the call of duty. Willing to pay the ultimate sacrifice so we could live in a world of freedom, justice and harmony,” Alesia’s description for the project explains.

“These men were and are our unsung heroes, the ones who didn’t ask for anything in return, but served with passion and dignity. Now back home, are we really so willing to forget their sacrifice, their family’s sacrifice?

“These men and women have looked darkness in the eye and now are expected to just fit back into our society with little help,” she concludes.

Alesia has published several photobooks and exhibited her work, which you can view on her website. Her life goal is to continue photographing the Defence community and bring much-needed support through powerful visuals.

For the next stage of her project, Alesia wants to tell the story from the other side, looking at the hardships military families face.

“I was hoping to find a few families that may want to be involved in the project,” she explains.

“It would be a year-long project and my aim is to investigate and show through images how these families differ from civilians and the extra support they may need.

“Coming from a military background, I have some understanding of how these families work and run and believe I can provide a new light on this.”

If you would like to be part of Alesia’s project, contact her on



One of Alesia’s subjects in her project is WWII Air Force veteran Mervyn James Murphy. Mervyn was trained in Morse code, radiotelegraphy and how to accurately pinpoint enemies in the sky. Some of his fondest memories are of the war. 

Merv loved both his job and his comrades, saying it is hard for civilians to understand the bonds of brotherhood that are formed. They are so strong that soldiers would die for mates they had met only months earlier.

When he returned home, Merv missed the war but married his beloved Nora and they had three children. They were married for 60 years until Nora passed away. Unfortunately, their children suffered from her hereditary disease and also passed away.

While at times Merv feels lonely, he continues to be an active part of the community. He worked at Robina Hospital for 25 years and now, aged 93, continues to volunteer at the hospital for eight hours a day. 

Merv has always lived his life by two very important mottos: 1) you were placed on this earth for a greater purpose than to just exist, and 2) every day is a bonus!

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