Carlos Furtado and Jara Pinheiro are Western Sydney Local Health District’s (WSLHD) multimedia specialists and were there to capture a moment in time – one which will likely never be repeated.
Based within the WSLHD Corporate Communications team, their task every day is to capture a visual record of the District’s work to be appreciated now and for generations to come.
When Qudos Bank Arena was transformed into the state’s biggest COVID-19 vaccination centre, Carlos and Jara were on the frontline to capture all of the important occasions.
But neither of them were aware of the significance of what was unfolding until they stood on the arena floor on the first day of operation.
“You walk around Qudos Bank Arena see posters on the walls of all the concerts and sporting events that have been held there, and you soon realise you are in that venue for a very different purpose,” Jara Pinheiro said.
“Those images seemed so far away from reality but they highlighted what we were working towards.
“As I stopped and looked around, I thought: ‘wow, this place has housed some important people’. And then I saw nurses, cleaners, and doctors pushing trolleys full of vaccinations and equipment, and I realised they are just as much superstars as the people on the wall.
I wanted to capture our superstars and let everyone know the incredible work that they have been doing to keep the community safe.”– Jara Pinheiro, WSLHD multimedia specialist
For many people, the photographs and videos captured by the WSLHD multimedia team offered a behind-the-scenes look at the operation of Qudos Bank Arena Vaccination Centre, and also told countless stories of community members rolling up their sleeves to protect themselves and their loved ones.
Carlos Furtado said that as communications professionals, they are always looking for content that will promote the District’s great work – but this particular work had an even deeper meaning.
“When we started walking around and talking to people, you get to know another side of them, a more personal one,” Carlos reflected.
“We were taking hundreds of photos of staff vaccinating the community and the community getting vaccinated but each photo was different. It tells a different story and we tried to convey that story through a single image.
“We have had staff reunite with loved ones, people desperate to see their family who they have been separated from for 18 months, and people who were just hoping for a sense of normality to return. Every person has had a different reason for getting vaccinated and we wanted to share that story and show the human side of healthcare.”
The pair took countless photos and videos, not only for The Pulse and WSLHD’s social media channels, but for national and international media outlets.
“In my 25 years in media, I have never been tasked with a job to this scale that I got to carry out from start to finish. We were there from the day construction began to the day decommissioning finished,” Carlos said.
“We have been trying to encapsulate history – in 5 to 10 years’ time, we are going to look back at this experience and think ‘wow, we were a part of that!’
“We always want to showcase how our staff go above and beyond to keep the community safe – and if photos, videos, and digital storytelling is the way to do that, I think we made a small difference to a grand cause.”
Although they were both somewhat sad to see Qudos Bank Arena Vaccination Centre close, Carlos and Jara are both looking forward to enjoying what the arena is known for.
“This job will stick with me for the rest of my life, but I am looking forward to coming back here for a concert… not work!” Jara said.
“I know I will be able to look up at the big screen during a concert and remember how the video montage we made played up there, how I walked along the arena floor taking photos of people who have just been vaccinated – it is memories like these I will never be able to replace.
“It is impossible to remember every moment of a situation, but photographs have the power to record a specific moment in time. We have captured these moments and are allowing them to be a memory forever.”
After providing more than 360,000 vaccinations, Qudos Bank Arena had its last day of operations on Sunday November 7.