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Project report

Indigenous Education program, Katherine Australia , RUN BY: The Fred Hollows Foundation | STATUS: COMPLETED

Songwriter and teacher, Shellie Morris, works with Jawoyn kids to engage them in making music, in turn leading to improved attendance and literacy.

This project is 100% Funded



AUD 18,002

Raised from 7,022 people

The Project has already engaged hundreds of Indigenous children, most of them from remote towns in the Jawoyn region, east of Katherine in the Northern Territory.  Whilst the overall outcome of improving the health of Indigenous Australians through music programs will take a long time to measure, the program has been extremely well received with consistent and maximum attendance.

Footprints funded the purchase of a variety of musical instruments and equipment for the Indigenous Music Project including:

  • 6 acoustic 6-string guitars
  • 2 electric guitars
  • 1 bass guitar
  • 4 electronic keyboards
  • 3 drum kits
  • Amplifier and 8 channel mixer
  • Stands, cables and microphone

These purchases were an integral part of the overall musical education program coordinated by The Fred Hollows Foundation.  Teacher and songwriter, Shellie Morris visited and worked with students at schools in the towns of Jilkminggan, Urupunga, Bulman, Wugularr, Barunga and Manyallaluk. Intensive songwriting workshops comprising 8-10 students each were held for 2 hours each day over a 1-2 weeks period.  At the conclusion of the week a performance would be held for local community including elders and other key community leaders.

Students learnt to write songs in the style of rap, pop and hip-hop.  A key element of this process was the creation of lyrics using both traditional language and English.  Lyrics created by the students were of relevant messages.  The young children wrote of light hearted thoughts such as bush animals and movement, with the senior students expressing more serious issues in their songs such as growing up, grief and relationships.  Traditional Indigenous songs were incorporated.

In this fun and creative environment students enjoyed the experience of learning to compose lyrics and music with the end goal being to perform their original works.    The project developed the childrens’ literacy skills through music.  It provided inspiration, a heightened sense of identity and greater level of self-respect for those that participated.  Over time, it is hoped that this will lead to better health outcomes for these indigenous students.

Will the project continue? 

The Fred Hollows Foundation will continue this program for a 3  year term.  Improved attendance at school has already been recorded.  We look forward to reporting in the future on the longer term outcomes of this project.

(Report posted: 13 Feb, 2009)

How was it this funded?

Thanks to hundreds of tiny donations from these online businesses and their customers.

World Nomads USA
***World Nomads UK
Travel Insurance Direct AU
The Fred Hollows Foundation

The Fred Hollows Foundation is an international development organisation working towards eliminating avoidable blindness and improving Indigenous Australian health. We are inspired by Professor Fred Hollows, a humanitarian, eye surgeon and social activist. Established in 1992, The Foundation continues in Fred’s footsteps and now works in more than 25 countries around the world and here in Australia. Working with in-country partners, we perform surgeries, deliver local training, provide equipment, educate about eye health and advocate for change.