How we work
RESPECTFULLY – we recognise and celebrate the many cultures and intersections that exist in our community, and give particular acknowledgement to the Darug people, the traditional custodians of the unceded lands we live, work and play on. We aim to include aspects of Aboriginal culture in all our projects.
AUTHENTICALLY – we reflect the community we work in through our board, staff, facilitators, and artists, and the young people and audiences we work with. Our team is multicultural, multi-lingual, and multi-faith, with members in the LGBTIQA+, neurodiverse and disabled communities, and mental health diagnosis. Most of us are local to the area, more than half of us are CALD, and three quarters of us are under 35 yrs. We have lived experience in the topics we work in, and we seek out and work with experts for our new projects.
RESPONSIBLY – we use best practice and evidence-based processes in our program design, and partner with service providers to offer a whole-person approach. We routinely partner with health, education and social welfare providers like Headspace Bankstown and Humanity Matters, to ensure that our performances, artworks and social support are well-managed. Through these partnerships, we cross-pollinate artistic strengths of engagement, expression, joy, collaboration and connection with care methodologies, processes, evidence basis and measurable impacts of these sectors. Our staff undertake ongoing mental health care training and have qualifications or experience in education/social-youth work/psychology. We regularly make referrals to our partner network of service providers.
RESPONSIVELY – our programs are responsive to the needs and interests of the young people in our community. For our REIMAGINE research project, we interviewed our ecosystem of partners, young people, schools and youth arts organisations and services to create responsive programming for the future, and developed Elder in Residence and Youth Co-Design programs.
SUPPORTIVELY – our focus is amplifying the voices of Western Sydney’s young people. Young artists are offered guidance, mentorship and, when they are ready, opportunities to perform or exhibit, and as they advance in their careers, creative developments and workshops on the business of being an artist.
SKILLS-FOCUSED – We value transferable life skills and we train up facilitators we work with in our care-based pedagogy.
PLAYFULLY – if something is worth doing, it’s worth making it fun!
LONG-TERM ENGAGEMENT – we work with young people throughout their career and we aspire to long-term change for the individuals and communities that we work with. Outloud (formerly known as Bankstown Youth Development Service, or BYDS) has been working in Western Sydney since 1991, and we‘ve called the Bankstown Arts Centre home for the last ten years. Our award-winning program, RESPECT, has its tenth anniversary in 2023, and been delivered to more than a thousand students. Alumnus of our projects have come back as interns, lead artists, and even board members!
With EMPOWERMENT and SELF-DETERMINATION for local voices, especially those who are often silenced or marginalised.
ACCESSIBLY – prioritising the participation of people from diverse socio-economic statuses, as well as people with differing physical and neurological needs.
COURAGEOUSLY – in highlighting and discussing difficult social issues affecting our community. We’re proudly advocates for young people’s brilliance.
CONNECTED in UNITY, COLLABORATION and PLAY with our partners, participants, and audiences.
NON-HIERARCHICALLY – Outloud is a ‘teal’ organisation (Laloux 2014), where staff are encouraged to bring their whole selves and many skills and experiences to work, and the person with the most experience in each task or topic takes the lead in that area.
TAX-DEDUCTIBLY – Outloud is a not-for-profit organisation and is on the Federal Government’s Cultural Organisations register. We have Deductible Gift Recipient (DGR 1) status, so donations to these programs that change young people’s lives are also tax-deductible.
Organisations we partner with
- Activate Central
- Australia Council of the Arts
- Bankstown Arts Centre
- Bankstown Community Resource Group
- Canterbury Bankstown City Council
- Canterbury Bankstown Working With Youth Network
- Canterbury-Bankstown Workers with Youth Network
- CBCC Social Planning (Youth, LGBTIQA+, CALD, Children and Families)
- Create NSW
- Culture Counts
- Headspace Bankstown
- Humanity Matters
- Inclusive Communities Network
- Lebanese Muslim Association
- Shopfront Youth Arts
- The Blue Room Theatre
- The Corner Youth Health Centre
- Theatre Network Australia
- Theatre Network NSW
- Transitions Counseling Service via Service NSW
- University of Western Sydney
- Vincent Fairfax Family Foundation
- Western Sydney Arts Alliances
Young people performing
School program, 2013 to present
The RESPECT Program is one of Outloud’s ongoing programs for boys under 12 in the Canterbury-Bankstown area. Based in local primary schools, RESPECT covers the complex issue of domestic violence through music education and collaborative discussions which highlight the nature and causes of violence. At the end of the two-term program, the boys embark on writing song lyrics that demonstrate their new understandings of how inequality can lead to violence and their role in creating a safer environment. The ultimate aim for this program is to educate boys early on in their lives about this issue so that they can become active agents in preventing domestic violence in the future.
The program transforms young men into active agents of social change and role models in their schools. This project has been assessed by Murdoch University as a model project that leads to long term change in the boys that are a part of it. It has been proven to increase awareness and understanding of Domestic Violence and healthy relationships in 98% of participants. Teachers tell us about the culture of the school shifting over the years that we return.
Based on interviews conducted with participants before and after the program, we have found:
Source: The Respect Project: Final Evaluation Report, Centre for Family Research and Evaluation, November 2017
- 98% of students demonstrated an increased understanding of the meaning of violence against women in all its forms.
- 92%students demonstrated an increased understanding of respectful relationships and equity toward girls and women.
- 85% of participants indicate a likelihood that they will engage in a dialogue with their peers.
- 81% of participants indicate a likelihood that they will be responders.
Source: The Respect Project: Final Evaluation Report, Centre for Family Research and Evaluation, November 2017
The Centre for Family Research and Evaluation found that following the program:
- Around 50% of participants indicated that they speak about relationships either with peers or family, and that in these discussions they promote a respectful and non-violent ideal.
- Teacher and facilitator feedback noted improved respectful behaviours in interactions with females from program participants.
- Participants were able to identify diverse forms of emotional and financial abuse and violence that occurs in intimate and familial relationships.
- When asked what someone should do if they witness a domestic violence scenario in public, the majority of participants suggested telling a person in authority, including police and teachers.
Supported by Department of Social Services, The Smith Family
School program, 2021 to present
UNITY is a new project from Outloud for girls and gender diverse young people aged 10-12. This 12-week music mentoring program teaches singing and songwriting through the lens of healthy relationships, consent, healthy boundaries and body neutrality. Participants will then write, rehearse and perform their own song about what they think about these topics and how they want the world to be in the future. This will be a weekly program over two terms per cohort. We will employ local female facilitators, musicians and counsellors that reflect the diversity of the communities reflected in our schools.
“The launch of the UNITY Program is a fantastic initiative for girls in our local schools. Programs like this allow for important and sensitive subjects to be discussed in a safe environment that engages young people. I’m excited to see what comes out of the program across different schools in the local area. Thank you to Outloud for continuing to work with schools in our community to run important projects like UNITY.”Hon Jason Clare MP, Minister for Education, Member for Blaxland
Supported by The Smith Family
Mentoring, 2021 to present
Born during lockdown, this initiative began as a touchpoint between artists and Outloud staff to regularly discuss and mentor on art and art making through weekly virtual meetings. Outloud now invites young people to book one-on-one sessions with its resident artists to discuss career and ambitions.
In its first year, 21 artists were involved, half of whom discovered the project via social media. Two participants had notable successes to follow, one receiving the grant that they had applied for with our support (playwright Jeffery Liu) and another receiving early entry for their desired university course with our support and encouragement (Chloe Williams).
Source: Culture Counts
How participants rated Open Studio:
- It’s important that it’s happening here – scaled 80%
- I would come to something like this again – scaled 93%
- It helped me gain new insight or knowledge – scaled 80%
- I feel more able to express myself creatively – scaled 83%
Supported by Create NSW
dyanmila Studio Space
Residency, throughout 2023
The dyanmila* Studio Space is a joint initiative of Utp and Outloud, offering residency opportunities to artists and creatives who reside in or have connections to the Canterbury-Bankstown LGA or greater Western Sydney area. With an offer of two months access to a rent-free space, the dyanmila Studio is ideal for someone (or a duo or small collective) that wants to develop a new project or body of work and would like a dedicated space in a supportive environment with feedback from leaders in the industry.
*A Darug word meaning play
- Tjoet Aishah, bookbinding artist
- Carubi Chips, composer
- Prema, sound designer/composer
- Mina Asfour, screenwriter
- Brian Obiri-Asare, poet and essayist
Supported by Create NSW
Independent Artist Development Workshops
Mentorship, throughout 2023
Facilitators: Outloud staff
A monthly series of workshops for emerging and independent artists in the practical aspects of a sustainable career in the arts, e.g. taxes for artists, contracts and MOUs and writing artist bios and CVs, starting an artist website and managing social media.
2023 feedback for this series has been extremely positive:
- 99% of participants have said they would come to an event like this again
- 94% of participants have stated that it’s important that these events are happening locally
- 91% of participants have said that our workshops have given them new insights and/or knowledge
- 90% of participants felt their creativity was inspired by the workshops
Community stories with young people
Live readings, April to June 2022
From April to June in 2022, Outloud held ‘About Us’, which was a series of intimate performances and conversations from artists that represented just some of the cultural communities in Western Sydney. Running on select Thursday & Friday evenings, 9 online performances of incredible stories, plays and books were co-curated & performed by the many cultural communities in Western Sydney. A rehearsed reading and facilitated conversation took place at every show in order for audience members to share their own stories, thoughts and ideas around what the texts said about who we are, what we care about, how COVID has affected our communities here and abroad, and how we could support each other from here on.
- TRANSFORMING SILENCE – In collaboration with WestWords. Writers and performers featured were Mimosa Rose, Wilfred Roach, Talisha Ingram, Yasmin Archibald, Vera Enterna, C.C. Tanton-Wright, Brahmi Kumarasamy, Gum Guo, Rey Vargas, Andrew Undi Lee, Gum Guo, Rey Vargas. Performed Thu 23rd Jun 2022
- FRIENDS AND DARK SHAPES – Written and directed by Kavita Bedford. Performed by Marie-Jo Orbase and Ayah Darwich. Performed Fri 17th Jun 2022
- HE’S NOT HERE – Written by Marcus Khoudair; Directed by Chloe De Brito. Performed by Emma Elias, Jacob Rahme, Julian Maroun, Isabelle Nader, Andrew Attieh, Danielle Stamolous, Nicole Chamoun, Salim Fayad, Mary Nigem, Joseph Khoudair and Marcus Khoudair. Performed Thu 9th Jun 2022
- MAWINGU ZINGINE (OTHER CLOUDS) – Written and directed by Mararo Wangai. Performed by Malek Domkoc, Phoebe Sullivan and Nicola Bartlett. Performed Thu 2nd Jun 2022
- THE HISTORY OF BIAFRA; THE LAND OF THE RISING SUN – Written and directed by Perpetua Ekechukwu. Performed by Perpetua Ekechukwu, Jonathan Nnamocha, Marcia Ekechukwu, Destiny Ekechukwu and Prudentia Ekechukwu. Performed Fri 3rd Jun 2022
- TODAY, TOMORROW, FOREVER – A collaboration with WestWords, developer and publisher of the book. Facilitated by Michael Campbell. Performed by Pan Sandar Myint, Abdullah, Yasor Arfat and AS Junike. Performed Fri 17th Jun 2022
- TROJAN WOMEN – Directed by James Hartley. An adaptation based on the play by Euripides, retold by Dena Razaghi, translated by Gholam Reza Shahbazi. Performed Thu 28th Apr 2022
- KALAGA ATU – Written and directed by Emele Ugavule. Facilitated by Xavier Breed. Performed by Luke Currie-Richardson, Jessica Paraha, Malia Letoafa, Tommy Misa, Sereima Adimate and Te Kaiga WA Akoga Tokelau children’s choir. Performed Fri 6th May 2022
- THE ENLIGHTENMENT OF THE SIDDHARTHA GAUTAMA BUDDHA, AND THE ENCOUNTER WITH THE MONKEY KING – GREAT SAGE, EQUAL OF HEAVEN – Written and directed by Joe Lui. Performed by Sebastian Critti Shnaars, Sean Gustaviano, Olivia Hendrey, Lucy Wong and Donita Cruz. Performed Fri 15th Apr 2022
Supported by Multicultural NSW
Live performance / mixed media, July 2022
A group of 30 community members, artists & elders gathered at the Bankstown Art Centre to welcome in the Māori New Year, Matariki. The night began with local Darug elder, Aunty Lyn Martin who led the Welcome to Country. Sam Rerekura opened the space with a Karakia. Gerome Te Peeti journeyed the audience through the Star Lore of Matariki. Performances from local artists, a visual soundscape from lyrical poet, Lay The Mystic and short film by puppeteer, Bria McCarthy. An archival website with additional written works was created. A delicious meal of traditional Fijian food was served by Lewa’s Kitchen.
Supported by City of Canterbury Bankstown
Mataliki ‘a Lihumui
Written by Sēini ‘SistaNative’ Taumoepea
For our Matariki event, 2022
Gadigal Lands. Eora
33.8688° S, 151.2093° E
Waning Gibbous Moon – 3rd Quarter
Look upon Sunrays
Tele-ki-Tokelau (Tropic of Cancer)
Our world’s confined
Alignment strikes a heralded
Hopo ‘a Mataliki (Rise of Pleaides)
Arising and rising
As one of 13 mahina
Solstice sings ‘Inasi (First Harvest festival)
For Hikule’o highest priests
Fetu’u fakatuputupu ‘a langi
lays sleeping dawn
The chiefly hunter
Crouched twilight waiting
Entrapped in mataliki mounded complex
Like captured starlight
Manu’a nests lay empty
When the chief’s net swoops
A caught pigeon lures a sibling
Each perched on mounded constellation
Clans gathered for feast and festivities
Offerings upon offerings
For life for ancestral enlivening
Opening cycles renewed
Slid aside for Lāpaha langi
Anchorage at Talatama
Brings to port the dispersed clans
On current and seaspray
From chief to high chief
Traversing clans echo celestial movements
Reflecting our Skies
companions in harmony
A ceremonial dance
Sky and Earth planes duet
Stories of Strength
Written and visual work, 2019
Stories of Strength is an Outloud project developed and delivered in Bankstown local high schools from 2019. The project shows that storytelling as a from of communication connects us with our humanity, is a tool to celebrate culture and language, and share knowledge across generations. In 2019 Stories of Strength released an anthology publication, commissioning contributions from 10 local writers including Nardi Simpson whose work is featured below. We dream of making our Stories of Strength program that teaches narrative therapy and interview techniques to teenagers into a licensable product (we’ve already had several copycat projects spring up) and bringing new and existing recordings into a podcast.
The images below were commissioned by local visual artists, responding to interviews by local teenagers with people in their community. We taught interviewing skills using narrative therapy techniques, helping them to talk to people in their lives, to reframe tales of hardship into stories of strength. local writers responded to the themes within the interviews with essays that introduced each chapter of the book.
Mural commissioned by Lotte Smith
Commissioned visual response by Michael Sun
To Be Honest
Theatre collaboration with Stefo Nantsou, 2019
To Be Honest is a piece of verbatim theatre telling stories from Bankstown’s youth homeless shelters, featuring original rap and melodic songs performed with a live band. Directed by Outloud’s long-time collaborator Stefo Nantsou, this work was performed for the young people who provided the stories, and their community.
From My Window
Poetry in collaboration with Story Factory, 2020
From My Window is a collaboration between Story Factory, Outloud and 3 local Bankstown High Schools; Wiley Park Girls High School, Punchbowl Boys High School and Birrong Girls High School. Students were encouraged to express positive moments they experienced throughout Covid-19 through performance poetry pieces. These pieces were videoed and strung together to create a short film acknowledging the ups and downs of an unprecedented event in these school students lives. The aim of this project is to foster the reflections and evaluations of self and place in young people in a creative manner.