Robinvale reggae students go national
Robinvale P-12 College, in north west Victoria, received a REAPing Rewards grant for $9,942, thanks to the Yulgilbar Foundation, to purchase radio station equipment, software and acoustic treatment to create a soundproof studio.
The ‘Youth Speak’ program was developed to provide a platform for young Indigenous and Polynesian students attending Robinvale P-12 College to communicate to their respective communities and the broader community. There are 111 Indigenous students enrolled at the school and 151 students are classified as having a language background other than English.
The initial idea was to provide an opportunity for students to create and present radio programs based on their own ideas regarding health, community change and local issues. The aims of the project were four-fold:
- To provide a new option for participation to students who were disengaging from school;
- To increase school attendance;
- To provide a platform to discuss youth and indigenous issues;
- To increase communication across communities.
Changing the project focus
However, just after the College renovated a small room on campus into a sound proof radio studio, they developed a partnership with Phunktional and Robinvale District Health Services to produce a video on healthy eating and mental health.
This achieved the same goals, so the project changed focus. The new partnership involved mentoring around 25 of the target students to produce a song and video clip. The concept was to create a song that could be played as the bell went for breaks to help promote healthy eating messages, as well as encourage good mental health. Six students also wrote and produced three YouTube video clips of their own compositions, which were picked up and played by ABC Mildura and Swan Hill - “It Ain’t Easy”, “Stand Up” and “Robinvale Reggae”.
This was an effective way for students to reach out to their local communities in both Robinvale and abroad. One student, Chrissy Ale, took full advantage of the recording studio and by engaging in this project she was awarded the prestigious national Noel Tovey emerging artists achievement award, recognising her achievements.
The project was a great success. It has proven to be a great way for staff to engage with students about healthy eating and mental health, but it’s done much more than that. There was a noticeable decrease in absenteeism among those directly involved in the project, and students have increased self-esteem and connectedness. They have also learnt valuable skills, including how to use the equipment, write songs, learnt signing and dance, and their literacy and numeracy skills have improved.
The regional, state and even national recognition (the Robinvale Reggae clip was played at the 2015 National Rural Health Conference in Darwin) has shown the students that if they have a go, they can overcome Robinvale’s remoteness with the use of social media and the recording equipment.
Phase two of the Youth Speak project
Building on the projects, success, the College has purchased an old caravan which will be developed as a mobile recording / radio station in the College’s Engineering Shed. They have also employed a coordinator part time to facilitate this opportunity.