"Blessings to all the spirits and energies that have guided
and protected this project and its participants."
A group of young people from Redfern and surrounding areas used
the music of the streets to produce a CD with the help of local
Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal tutors. Negative attitudes to learning
gained in a formal school environment were overcome; self-esteem
and self-confidence increased and there was a marked improvement
in literacy and numeracy skills.
The Settlement Neighbourhood Centre offers a broad range of support
services to the local communities of Chippendale, Redfern, Darlington
The Centre's Youth Work program provides recreational and developmental
activities for young people over the age of 11. The youth program
combines outings, use of the Settlement as a "drop-in"
centre and organised activities. The youth programs work closely
with the Centre's Muralappi program, which runs up to four health
and cultural camps each year, and the HELP program.
Some young people in the area, including Aboriginal people and a
transient Aboriginal population from country areas, have negative
experiences in a formal school environment. They learn more in the
'street' than in a classroom, where the activities and expectations
of them bear little relevance to their everyday lives or cultural
The Strategic Pilot Project was designed specifically for these
The aim of the project was to build the target group's confidence,
increase their self-esteem and foster a sense of cultural pride.
Hip Hop was the medium chosen to achieve the aim and to encourage
the young people to consider musical and artistic career paths.
A secondary aim was to engage the group in creative activities that
would keep them off the streets.
The Hip Hop project ran for eight weeks from April to June 1999.
It included an opening launch that attracted an initial registration
of 49 young people from the target group.
A core group of 20-30 completed the subsequent 14 workshops, held
twice a week for seven weeks. Each individual workshop averaged
By the end of the project nine participants from the older age bracket
went through to the recording stage.
The workshops encouraged the students to explore Hip Hop and poetry
as a valuable and desirable mode of expression, and as a way of
dealing with issues ranging from the personal to the social. The
political nature of Hip Hop music, itself forged out of the African-American
experience in the United States, struck a chord with the students.
They were encouraged to discuss indigenous relations, poverty and
cultural pride as a step in the process of developing their own
lyrics. The group's interest in Hip Hop was due more to its street
popularity than to its political undertones.
Interest in the project was achieved through a fairly unstructured
approach to workshop sequencing, although as the project progressed
it became more important for participants to attend as frequently
as possible in order to acquire technical music skills.
After the workshops, a CD was produced comprising several tracks
created by participants in the project, as well as other music from
favourite bands. An accompanying booklet documented the background
to the CD and provided information on participants and tutors.
Literacy and numeracy skills were improved through developing music
skills such as
bars and beats
time to music
lyrics for music· developing text for the accompanying
the language associated with Hip Hop music
- using local
forms of language construction in the music.
There was a
marked increase in the self-confidence and self-esteem of participants.
They were able to express themselves and perform in ways not previously
available to them. The group composition of the workshops meant
they gained teamwork skills through working together to produce
Using local Aboriginal tutors with knowledge of the specific issues
affecting young Aboriginal people was crucial to the success of
the project. An African-American woman with expertise in working
with young people and music, was also employed.
The Neighbourhood Centre established an informal learning environment
to counteract the young people's negative associations with traditional
classroom based education.
The use of Hip
Hop, rap and poetry proved to be a successful way of indirectly
developing language, literacy and numeracy skills.
workshop tutors provided a degree of stability for the participants,
which further encouraged confidence and self-expression in the group.
had considerable support from local youth and Aboriginal organisations,
as well as educational institutions.
The personal networks of the staff in the Centre led to a number
of free and discounted resources and facilities for the project.
Some participants dropped out near the production stages of the
project because of lack of transport, staffing and late nights in
the recording studio. The ability to re-schedule recording nights
would have alleviated some of the pressure associated with the tight
Some older students dropped out because they missed one crucial
session in the production stage and subsequently found it difficult
to catch up. A longer timeframe that allowed the flexibility to
repeat or re-schedule workshops would have solved this problem.