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Job Skills Are Alive with the Sound of Music

16 December 2013 at 10:33 am
Staff Reporter
A Melbourne-based Not for Profit and social enterprise has harnessed the power of song to help disadvantaged people across the country gain skills and employment.

Staff Reporter | 16 December 2013 at 10:33 am


Job Skills Are Alive with the Sound of Music
16 December 2013 at 10:33 am

A Melbourne-based Not for Profit and social enterprise has harnessed the power of song to help disadvantaged people across the country gain skills and employment.

Since starting in Melbourne in 2008, Creativity Australia’s With One Voice choir program has grown to 13 programs and – thanks to new funding – a second program in Sydney and one in Brisbane.

The choirs, made up of a mix of disadvantaged people and professionals, meet every week to sing. Singing practice is then followed up by supper, which allows everyone to get together and build networks.

According to Creativity Australia Executive Director Ross Maher, Creativity Australia’s founder and chair Tania de jong was inspired to start the program after watching “The Choir of Hardknocks”.

“As a soprano herself, she was thinking using singing and choirs was a great medium to help people but realised it was quite limited because it only ever referred to one group of people and there was no ability for them to new meet people or the ability to use singing as a more productive way,” he said.

“So her idea was if you had disadvantage or you had brought in mainstream society then that would be a great for being to build greater networks, increase their access to skills and also for employment.”

With One Voice choir.

According to a Creativity Australia survey, 90 per cent of participants have experienced improved wellbeing on a weekly basis, 80 per cent experienced improved self-esteem, reduced anxiety and made new friends, and 70 per cent increased their understanding of diverse cultures and gained new skills.

The organisation also says that the networks and friendships developed at choir have led to more than 80 employment opportunities and 200 skills-development, work experience or mentoring opportunities.

It also says the program has also assisted more than 150 members with access to services, especially in relation to physical and mental health.

Creativity Australia Executive Director Ross Maher.

Maher names many examples of how the program has enhanced people’s lives. In particular, he mentions one woman, Beth, who has cerebral palsy and gained her first job through the program and its connection to employment agency Skilled.

According to Maher the woman gained  a “real sense of freedom” since coming to the choir.

“What you find these little instances of this sort that go on and many that we don’t even hear about,” he said.

Maher said Creativity Australia is about to launch a “capital campaign” to help the organisation raise about $6 million over the next three years to deliver programs across Brisbane, Melbourne and Sydney.

“And hopefully other parts of the country as well,” he said.

“It’s at a whole other level than what has been done before.”

Maher said ultimately the organisation hoped to create a space where people can come together and get what they need to better their skills.

“Our ultimate goal is that we create a space, which can create much stronger communities and can change the way we do skills, how we can assist each other with skills and employment and we got everyone involved one way or another,” he said.

Staff Reporter  |  Journalist  |  @ProBonoNews

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