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Photo credit: Aaron Hawkins at Hawkeye Photography

Aims of the Mildura, Sunraysia, Mallee Project

Working in partnership with individuals with diverse abilities and with other organizations in Mildura Rural City, Community Music Victoria (CMVic) proposes to:

  • Develop and run a series of music leadership workshops for community music leaders and groups to be able to include people with diverse abilities in their groups. These workshops will be offered in person for those in Mildura and also online for other leaders from across the state.
  • Develop and run a series of music leadership Professional Development workshops for community leaders unfamiliar with leading community music, including care and cultural workers.
  • Develop resources and repertoire for use with groups that want to include people with diverse abilities incorporating values of equity and respect.

The GCM Mildura, Sunraysia, Mallee story so far

(July 2021 – Nov 2022)

In mid-2021, $25.5k were secured from the Department of Social Services Information Linkages and Capacity Building (ILC) program (Social and Community Participation stream), enabling activity to start in the Mildura, Sunraysia, Mallee region. These funds have been matched by the Helen Macpherson Smith Trust.

Late in 2021 we were delighted to hire and induct Kylie Livingston as CMVic’s Local Catalyst (Murray, Sunraysia, Mallee). You can find out more about Kylie’s passion for inclusive community arts in CMVic’s Blog article Squeezing out the Zest! The Music Makers adding flavour to the Murray Mallee. Kylie immediately went to work contacting local leaders, supporters, festivals and community arts champions, creating a map of the current state of play of community music. 

An important pillar of the strategy was to recruit dedicated volunteers into a Local Action Team. In 2022 the team has been meeting monthly over breakfast (yes, 7:30am in the morning!) to discuss challenges and opportunities for leaders, and to design and plan upcoming workshops and events. We thank Catherine Threlfall, Tammie Leamon, Allison McGregor, Win Moser and Jill Antonie for enriching their communities through their ongoing work.

Having built an extensive contacts list, Kylie focussed on creating opportunities for peer networking, both online and face-to-face. In April, CMVic launched the Murray Mallee Music Makers Facebook page which quickly gathered almost 100 followers. This was followed by the Lake Cullulleraine networking gathering on Saturday 7 May, an opportunity for community music leaders to gather with event organisers and local council representatives to discuss issues related to pandemic recovery. Nicki Johnson, Program Manager CMVic, and Craig Barrie, General Manager CMVic, facilitated a kani ka pila style song sharing circle, with participants taking turns to share music, including a wonderful rendition of the local “Mildura Waltz”, with impromptu dancing! The joy of this form of networking reinforced our belief that community music is community engagement and one of the quickest and most robust ways to build trust and friendships among people. 

Photo credit: Kylie Livingston

Winter Solstice Celebration – Mildura Riverfront

We were delighted to partner with Mildura Regional City Council (MRCC) and Mildura Waterfront to host a Winter Solstice Celebration at Rio Vista Park on the banks of the Murray: a family friendly evening of music, circus acts, fire twirling, art and winter warming food. An estimated 700 people came filling the space, which was laid out to maximise COVID safety. 500 cups of soup & scones were given out by Sunraysia Mallee Ethnic Community Council, and over 400 sausages by the Lions club. So popular was the evening we lost count of the number of hot drinks! The audience was engaged, and loved participating in the drum circle and arts on offer, a highlight was seeing kids pretending to be fire twirlers with little lamps. 

A special thank you goes to Jill Antonie, Community Place Making Officer MRCC, for her vision in creating this winter wonderland during a challenging time for running major public events, and CMVic Local Catalyst, Kylie Livingston, who received the lovely feedback below from Cr Helen Healy.

Photo credit: Aaron Hawkins at Hawkeye Photography

SCOPE Disability Awareness Workshop – 15 September 2022

CMVic contracted SCOPE to develop and deliver tailored sessions for music leaders and people more broadly engaged in community music, such as volunteers and committee members. SCOPE training is led by experienced and expert facilitators who are people with lived experience of disability. Participants were surveyed prior to the workshop for topics and examples they would like to better understand. Key elements of the training included understanding the Social Model of Disability and the importance of using inclusive language, so that participants learn how to interact with people living with disability respectfully and with confidence.

Cullulleraine Music Festival Community Day – 9 October 2022

Cullulleraine Music Festival Community Day: marimbas at the CMVic stall. Photo credit: Kylie Lvingston

Cullulleraine Music Festival was held on 8-9 October, with a new Community Music Day program on the Sunday 9 October. The aim was to make a family friendly, alcohol free day to introduce new audiences to this long-running local music festival and showcase local groups. The program included five community music groups of diverse abilities performing on the main stage. Kylie Livingston and LAT team members Tammie Leamon and Catherine Threlfell set up a community music stall, which included information about GCM and a selection of percussion instruments, ukuleles, and the amazing marimbas pictured above! People were encouraged to learn a simple song, which proved to be a great conversation starter. Organisers identified some good lessons from the pilot that will be applied to future festivals, including programming professional and community acts to maximise audience engagement.

Cultural diversity projects in progress

GCM has explored different models for encouraging the region's CALD communities to collaborate, share and support each other’s music making. Kylie has consulted widely with groups to discuss needs and support required.   

The region has a high proportion of humanitarian refugees in its immigration intake, who can experience economic disadvantage, social isolation and mental and physical health impacts of intergenerational trauma. Members of the Local Action Team are experienced in working with refugee communities, and CMVic has previous experience with refugee and migrant music programs, including Sing English programs in regional settings, so the positive impacts of community music programs we hope will be significant.

Mildura English Language Centre Songs of Peace project 

Through discussions with the Sunraysia Multicultural Ethnic Communities Council (SMECC) we identified that a potentially impactful project is to introduce a music program to the Mildura English Language Centre (MELC). MELC is a state government school for newly arrived students aged 5-18 years to learn English in Mildura before transitioning to local mainstream schools. 

Regan Schmidt, local music therapist and community development practitioner, has been contracted by the GCM project to run weekly music sessions with the students during Term Four. The underlying theme of the sessions is songs of peace. Importantly, they are learning songs chosen by the students. Catherine Threlfall is teaching the same songs to the Sunraysed Voices all abilities choir.  The songs learnt throughout the term will be performed by the MELC students and Sunraysed Voices together at the Sunraysia Multicultural Festival on 3 December 2022.  

‘Out of the Box’ Social Enterprise community event – 26 November 2022

Out of the Box is a social enterprise based in Mildura that supports new migrants socially and economically, connecting them up to the wider community. They work closely with small‑scale farmers to provide a steady income, with growers setting their own prices, and encourage environmentally sustainable farming practices. The Local Action Team is planning community music elements for their upcoming end of year party to celebrate and build connections between the many cultures that make up this region.

Holiday Celebration in the Mildura City Mall – 16 December

Kylie and the Local Action Team are working with Mildura City Heart to create an inclusive community music celebration in the Mildura Mall. It has been a challenging few years for traders, and the opportunity to celebrate and bring the Mall to life is something the whole community is looking forward to!