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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2018 Week 08 Hansard (Thursday, 16 August 2018) . . Page.. 3114 ..


A social model of music-making does not place central importance on achievement or technical virtuosity, but on joyful and sustained engagement.

The principal intent behind our music-making—

the music making of the MEP—

is, therefore, to prioritise shared music-making by all in a stress-free, non-judgemental and joyful environment, where each individual develops his own musical identity and musical skills in a way that promotes ongoing involvement.

Through the music engagement program, primary school children were engaged in music making and, through their music making, were connected with people in aged care facilities. They not only shared music but they shared stories. The children would perform and then talk one-on-one with the residents. The program gave valuable insights to young people, including the rebellious young. The program helped change those rebellious students. They became happier, more understanding and better students in their schools. A year 5 student said about the program, “When I sing in a nursing home I feel good because I know I made someone happy, and that makes me happy.” Can you imagine the joy of residents being able to see and interact with these young people in such a positive and engaging environment. And it is all because music, the great leveller, had been brought to them.

Yet the ACT Greens-Labor coalition government does not think a program like this is of any value to our community as a whole. This ACT Labor-Greens coalition government defunded the program. I asked the minister about this program:

Given that, under the ACT arts policy, one of the principles of artsACT is participation in and access to the arts, achieved in part through partnerships and collaboration, and that artsACT recognises that the ACT government’s priorities include health and education, how, and to what extent, did the future funding of the music engagement program fail to align with those attributes and qualities?

In his answer the minister waffled on about the Education Directorate being responsible. His answer failed to recognise the broader social engagement and the long-term benefits of the program. His answer failed miserably to address the question in the context of ACT arts policy, the context in which the question was asked.

In an opinion piece published in the Canberra Times on 14 February this year Toni Hassan told the story of John, a primary school student, and how his life had been changed through the music education program. John was a troubled young man whose life was changed as a direct result of the music engagement program. Ms Hassan wrote that John was “just one of tens of thousands of students the program had enriched”. The self-esteem of tens of thousands of young Canberrans has been enriched by the music education program.

Imagine what this has done for the long-term benefit of the Canberra community as a whole. Perhaps this program’s successes were just a little too much for the


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