Partnerships are key to connection in diverse Western Sydney

Partnerships are key to connection in diverse Western Sydney

A whole-of-community approach to improving the wellbeing and prospects of vulnerable children and families has strengthened the community in Western Sydney. It’s all taken place through the arts.

primary school students enjoying arts learning lesson with musical instruments in Western Sydney

The Smith Family Bankstown and Mission Australia Mount Druitt are Facilitating Partners for the Communities for Children initiative, funded by the Australian Government Department of Social Services. They have teamed up with The Song Room to strengthen the connection between eight schools and their diverse communities through arts, culture and wellbeing programs.

Bankstown and Mt Druitt are among the most culturally and linguistically diverse areas in NSW, and continue to face high levels of social and economic disadvantage and trauma. School communities include families from refugee, migrant, First Nations and Pasifika backgrounds, and each has their own unique challenges, priorities and strengths.

The Song Room programs in Western Sydney feature music, visual arts, dance and drama. Community Liaison Officer and Teaching Artist Colin Watego oversaw the programs in Western Sydney in 2022.

Colin is a proud Bundjalung, Torres Strait Islander and South Sea Islander man. He sees Communities for Children as an opportunity to build understanding and pride for First Nations culture while creating a sense of belonging for all. He uses the arts to explore culture and helps his students to find and appreciate their place in the world.

During The Song Room classes Colin and his students learn about community, culture and respect. Students learn that everyone has a voice and each of them has a story.

“It is important that that they know how to use their voice well, and that they know how to listen to others. They connect through activities where the children feel inspired and they feel safe. Creating this sense of belonging makes space for learning.”

– Colin Watego, Bundjalung, Torres Strait Islander and South Sea Islander man, and Song Room Community Liaison Officer and Teaching Artist.

One child who was struggling to engage socially at school took part in a rap class. Colin provided ideas, gave the class a beat, and asked students to tell their story. Immersed in the activity this child engaged and had fun. He grew in confidence and opened up to the class. He shared his story and learnt about his classmates too. The entire class was curious about each story told and supported each rapper with encouragement.

The Song Room is proud to partner with the diverse community of Western Sydney. Thank you to The Smith Family and Mission Australia for their partnership, and the Australian Government for support through the Communities for Children initiative.

For more case studies on The Song Room programs in 2022, check out The Song Room’s 2022 Year in Review.