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
UNITY is a sibling project to our successful RESPECT program, which has been running in Bankstown primary schools for 8 years, educating young boys about domestic violence, gender stereotypes and respect for women. Three different Universities have evaluated RESPECT and has proven that it increases awareness and understanding of Domestic Violence & healthy relationships in 98% of participants.
With this new program, UNITY will provide young girls with the knowledge, skills and strength to healthily address key concerns including healthy relationships, consent, body image and bullying.
Why do we need consent and healthy relationships education in primary schools?
The program comes in response to recent widespread issues around negative gender, cultural and social stereotypes. In fact, the national counselling service Kids Helpline reported a sharp surge in searches for ‘sexting’ and ‘cyberbullying’ by teens aged 13 to 18 during the COVID-19 pandemic and image-based abuse leapt by more than 172 per cent last year.
Finn O’Branagáin, CEO and Artistic Director of Outloud says, “We’re increasingly seeing young girls and gender diverse students face what seems to be an impossible situation – they feel immense peer pressure to take part in activities they don’t feel safe doing, and then are punished for doing them. It is critical to invest in early intervention to give young people the tools to deconstruct social messages and normalise positive behaviour patterns. This allows children to lay down a baseline of boundaries and expectations of how they should be treated, rather than waiting to unlearn thought patterns later on.”
“Through our commitment to building on strengths rather than fears, we are working closely with young girls, teachers, social workers and community leaders to ensure the project is collaborative and evidence-based to adequately address the complex needs of young people.”
UNITY will run over two terms across different public schools in Bankstown and will provide girls with the autonomy to take what they’ve learnt in these workshops to write a song under the guidance of professional musicians. The song is produced, a complementary music video is filmed and the musical piece is presented at school assemblies to classmates, teachers and parents, and shared with the public online.
The UNITY Launch
The launch of the program on November 4 2021 acknowledged World Youth Day. Outloud hosted a webinar with speakers including consent education activist Chanel Contos, Zena Dabaja, the principal of Birrong Girls High School, Armani Heydar, a domestic violence activist and artist, and young participants of the consulting group. You can request to view the launch replay
Check out a song by a pilot group to see what what the finished project might look like:
Jason Clare, Local MP and Member for Blaxland, Western Sydney
“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.”
Craig Taunton, RESPECT Program Manager
“The Respect Program has been working with boys in schools now for 8 years and we have often been asked by the schools about having a similar program for the girls. So the UNITY Program is very exciting for me because creating healthy relationships in our younger generations means equipping all young people with the right tools. I’m really proud that we are evolving and now able to offer the same kind of support to young girls. It’s been a long time coming.”
Zena Dabaja, Principal of Birrong Girls High School
“It’s really important that we invest in our girls and future women. By explicitly developing their skills to feel empowered, safe and confident in themselves, they can carve out a clear path to supporting each other and demand safety, respect and consent.”
Yasmin (12 years old) was a participant in the working group
“I think a program like UNITY is useful and valuable for girls who are getting bullied or are having some issues in school because it might help them feel happier about coming to school. It’s good for girls to stick together and make sure they feel respected and comfortable. Being treated equally and fairly by other peers and students makes me feel safe.”
Listen to our powerful womxn playlist! This is an ever-growing playlist made up of “songs that make us feel powerful”, suggested by our launch event participants, and our in-school workshop participants.
More information for schools, government and parents
Would you like to find out more about the UNITY program and how we:
- connect to curriculum
- teach in relation to cultural safety
- have used evidence, research and community engagement in developing the program
- decided on achievable aims
- or anything else
Please get in contact using the form below!