The School in Queensland
With the support of the Queensland Government, the Department of Health (MHAODB) has facilitated the launch of the School in Brisbane. A School Council has been formed, which is led by Dr Christian Rowan, past president, AMA Queensland.
The School launched in October 2014 with the Absolutely Everybody Choral program and three additional arts programs will commence in terms 1, 2 & 3 of 2015. It will operate on a school term basis, providing ten weekly sessions of each program per term.
Dr Welch will have an active role in the leadership of the School in Queensland. An Operations Manager, Ms Susan Gilmartin has been appointed, together with outstanding program leaders for each individual program.
The primary audience for the School of Hard Knocks program are people experiencing mental health issues, addiction, unstable housing, disadvantage or social isolation. We add a mix of community members “as School Buddies” to each program to support members and provide some diversity.
1. To establish the School of Hard Knocks in Queensland in the September quarter of 2014, with a School Council formed with nominees from health, welfare, the performing arts, state and local government, and business sectors
2. Launch the Choir in the Sept quarter of 2014, and progressively launch additional programs in the period to June 2015.
3. Deliver 900 ‘student terms’ of quality arts-based teaching over the initial two year project
4. Evaluate the health and welfare outcomes of the participants over the project cycle.
5. Develop funding streams through Fee for Service Programs, welfare providers, community support and corporate sponsorship and Choir engagement fees.
Expected Benefits and Outcomes
Homelessness, drug and alcohol addiction and unemployment are key issues facing community health professionals in Queensland. The School provides a new model which is conducted in parallel with welfare and health care, creating a new pathway into mainstream society. In supporting the setup of the School in Brisbane, the Queensland Government is facilitating a novel, yet proven approach to this cohort of the population which has profound benefits to both participants and the wider community.
Projected outcomes of the program are:
1. A measurable improvement in the health, well-being and self esteem of participants.
2. Raise awareness of the needs of people experiencing homelessness, alcohol and drug addiction and mental illness.
Ms Susan Gilmartin
Operations Manager, School of Hard Knocks Queensland
T 0417 075 053
School of Hard Knocks Foundation - Empowering disadvantaged Australians through Arts Education
The original Choir of Hard Knocks (now known as the Choir of Hope and Inspiration) began rehearsing in September 2006 under the leadership of Dr Jonathon Welch AM. The choir was created for people experiencing homelessness or disadvantage and members have a range of unique personal, physical, medical and emotional needs. Since its inception, and national exposure on ABC television, more than 300 street choirs have formed around the world.
The Choir still rehearses weekly, and performs regularly. Of the 52 original members, around half continue. Many have progressed to part or full time study and/or employment.
About the School
From the experience with the Choir, Dr Welch has established the School of Hard Knocks, which provides a range of arts, cultural and well-being programs to this cohort of people. The Choir/School model comprises an inspirational teacher, access to leading rehearsal venues, commitment over time and performance opportunities to ‘mainstream’ audiences. The School trains volunteer teachers in its method, and provides a pathway from addiction, homelessness, poor mental health or disadvantage to education, empowerment and employment.
The School of Hard Knocks operates as a “virtual institute”. It uses high profile spaces for rehearsal and teaching. In Victoria, these include the Edge Theatre in Federation Square, The Boyd Community Hub in Southbank and the MCG. In Queensland, we proudly partner with Common Ground and the State Library of Queensland. It collaborates with government, and with welfare, healthcare and educational institutions to provide a cross-sectoral approach to supporting its students and developing new pathways.
In summary, the School of Hard Knocks provides an innovative approach to improving the health and life outcomes of its students.