Rhiannon Whitaker - RSL Scholarship

Wartime photos inspire daughter's passion

Louise Liddiard-Smith 25 September 2019

Rhiannon Whitaker is turning her passion into a career, thanks to the RSL Queensland Scholarship program.


Rhiannon - a photography student at Griffith University - drew inspiration from her father Rod's photos from East Timor.

When he was deployed to East Timor in 2000 as a driver with 6 BSG UNTAET, Rod took his film camera with him was a way of recording his memories. For his daughter Rhiannon, those photos are a way of connecting with her father’s time away from home.

“It’s really nice to look back on what he experienced, and I get to experience that through his photos,” Rhiannon says.

Rhiannon Whitaker - RSL Scholarship

Now in her third year of a Bachelor of Photography at Griffith University, Rhiannon credits her father with helping her discover her passion.

“His photos really inspired me to be the photographer I am at the moment, and the photographer I hope to be in the future,” she says.

Rhiannon and Rod Whitaker

The RSL Queensland Scholarship, managed by AVCAT, is helping Rhiannon make the most of her time at university.

“Having the scholarship behind me really helps with focusing on my grades and my marks. Working 25 hours a week and trying to do 40 hours a week of uni really takes a toll on you,” Rhiannon explains.

“So being able to put that aside and focus solely on my degree and my work is really helpful.”

Rhiannon Whitaker - RSL Scholarship

As she comes to the end of her time at university, Rhiannon encourages other school leavers to consider further education.

“I think it has a really important value to anyone leaving school and it’s something everyone should look into. It’s really important for pushing yourself and finding what you really want to do in life.”

It means a great deal to Rhiannon that the RSL Queensland Scholarship is available to veteran dependants.

“It is really important to keep that support going, because I know a lot of families do struggle when they come out of Defence. I would definitely recommend this scholarship to anyone who’s eligible. Honestly, it’s a bit of a life changer, so definitely apply if you can.”

As she considers life beyond university, Rhiannon hopes to turn her love of photography into a lifelong career.

Rhiannon Whitaker - RSL Scholarship

“My favourite things to photograph are definitely dancers. I like finding the moment in their movement and capturing their feelings,” she says.

“I would love to have my own studio one day working for ballet companies and doing their promotional advertising campaigns.”

Find out more about RSL Queensland's Scholarship program.

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