A new choir is giving young South Australians in care a powerful voice.
The Strong in Culture, Strong in Voice choir comprises 10 teenagers living in the Department for Child Protection’s (DCP) Residential Care who have shown a strong interest in music and singing.
With a focus on reconciliation, the choir has a key theme of ‘healing together’ and its members are Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal.
Mentored by DCP’s Principal Aboriginal Consultant Residential Care and musician Tony Minniecon and Ngarrindjeri singer Ellie May Lovegrove, the choir was formed in late 2021 and will perform an original song to be debuted at the CREATE Voices in Action conference on April 26.
“It’s a very therapeutic approach to supporting young people who have experienced complex trauma,” Mr Minniecon said. “Our Sanctuary team are supporting staff in Residential Care in the implementation of a therapeutic approach and along with specific initiatives, such as the choir, are working together to support reconciliation and healing.
“Choir members can talk about what’s going on for them in a safe environment, chat about sometimes difficult things that they don’t normally chat about, and become confident and empowered.”
When the choir first got together, “we held a workshop where we talked about how they see themselves, how they feel in care and what it feels like to be away from family,” Mr Minniecon said.
Mr Minniecon and Ms Lovegrove used these discussions, and the words and phrases that the young people expressed to brainstorm and compose a four-verse song called We Stand Together that represents the hopes and dreams of young people with an out of home care experience.
“We brought the song back to the choir and asked what they thought, the feedback was that it was exactly what they hoped for,” Mr Minniecon said.
“They are now dedicated to rehearsing twice a week and we’ve been blown away by their talent and commitment.”
The song was recorded at a studio at St Michael’s College on March 29 and accompanied by guitar, bass and drums played by local Adelaide Musicians.
It will be played on the first day of the CREATE Voices in Action Conference, which has a theme of ‘resilient, resourceful and remarkable’ and aims to amplify the voices of young people and put them at the forefront of change. The biennial conference is being conducted online.
DCP Deputy Chief Executive Fiona Ward said the choir was a fantastic example of how the Department is supporting children and young people in care to stand up and to know that we are listening.
“The lyrics of We Stand Together provide a great reminder of the enormous strength and talents children and young people in care have to offer, and how important it is that their stories and their voices are heard.
“The song is a call to action for the community and the role we all need to play in making sure young people are supported to thrive.
“It highlights the importance of identity and self-esteem; for all children and young people in care to feel proud and powerful, and for Aboriginal children and young people to feel strong in, and connected to, culture.
“I am incredibly proud of the very talented young people involved in the choir, and all young people in care, who show remarkable resilience every day.”
Ms Ward said the department was also proud to be the major sponsor of the CREATE Voices in Action conference.
CREATE Chief Executive Jacqui Reed said: “this is the first time we’ve had a young people’s choir and it will be a standout at our Voices In Action conference”.
“The choir is so powerful, embodying the spirit of resilience that children and young people have in overcoming adversity and inspiring others to stay strong,” Ms Reed said.
Find out more about the conference here.
For more about DCP’s Youth Engagement Strategy, click here.
Strong in Culture, Strong in Voice choir
We Stand Together:
I’m a small town kid in a big world
Wondering how I’ve Survived
I am who I am
Because what I’ve been through
I know that I’ll be alright
Waking up each morning to someone new
Do you wonder what that’s like?
Do you know what it’s like to come at a price?
To be loved from 9-5
Strong is who we are
I’ll find the strength in me
Unique is who I am
I’ll find the power in me
I’m a small kid in a big world
Can you see my light?
I will love who I am despite what I’ve been through
You just watch me shine
Stand up, Stand up and hear our voices
We have no fear when we stand together
Can you hear?
Can you hear our voices?
We are the voice for those that can’t be heard