Because we believe performing arts education is a powerful way to engage young people
Through engagement in performing arts, girls who participate in g-oz programs learn new skills, but the most important outcomes are those delivered through the ‘hidden curriculum’; improved confidence, self esteem and communication skills. Although g-oz uses the performing arts as a way to engage and inspire participants, it is fair to say that the anticipated outcome of our programs is not necessarily to produce world-class vocalists. Rather we know that performing arts programs are an effective way to encourage participants to take risks and get involved – and we know that the positive flow on effects of this are far reaching.
When activities are fun, social and dynamic, and program leaders engender trust, the performing arts can serve as an early intervention strategy to prevent absenteeism and enhance engagement.
Because there’s no shame in trying
Children, adolescents and young adults who participate in performing arts activities with trusted program leaders will, inevitably, take risks and engage in situations and activities that they otherwise might not. Each time participants experience a fear of trying followed by a successful outcome, they will feel emboldened to try again – or to try an activity in the classroom which is new and potentially challenging. Over the course of a consistently delivered developmental program, children, adolescents and young adults will feel more positive about taking risks in learning environments, and will grow in their confidence to try. This in turn enhances attitudes to considering further study and employment.
Involvement in performing arts activities is widely recognised as a proven way to improve confidence and motivation, and to harness passion. Importantly, children and young people who participate in the performing arts have the opportunity for individual talents to be nurtured within a setting that highly values team work and encourages the development of leadership skills.
Because we believe more can be done to improve education outcomes for Aboriginal students – particularly girls and young women
Aboriginal students in Australia have lower school attendance, retention and achievement than their non-Aboriginal peers across all age groups. The challenges faced by young people living in communities such as Lockhart River, Carnarvon and Halls Creek are real and significant – concerns such as high unemployment, isolation and mental health issues. While Indigenous girls are 8% more likely to complete Year 12 than their male counterparts, their Year 12 completion rate is still around 26% lower than the Australian average.
While some educational engagement programs are available, there tends to be a focus on sport, and that is simply not enough – there is a dearth of programs designed specifically for girls. g-oz exists to provide an alternative – engaging girls using the performing arts to address disadvantage and break the cycle of poverty. We aim to expand learning opportunities, strengthen connections to family, school and country, and encourage growth in confidence and resilience. g-oz has a very clear aim of guiding the girls away from a debilitating culture of shame and low achievement, instead focussing on powerful feelings of success and self confidence.
Because women are the keepers of culture
Studies indicate that women have a particular propensity to lead improvements in the health and wellbeing of their families and communities, and act as catalysts for social change. Accordingly, investments in programs like g-oz which are designed to help improve the health, education and wellbeing of women and girls are often described as having a significant ‘multiplier effect’, based on the cross-generational benefits that those investments support. Girls and women, who are so often the keepers of culture in family and community settings, are empowered as a result of participating in capacity-building programs, and their propensity to engage as active members of their community is nurtured.
Because we believe that the most effective programs are those that are inclusive, enduring and sustainable
One of our greatest strengths is the consistency of our programs. g-oz has been a reliable aspect of the girls’ educational experience in Halls Creek since 2010, in Carnarvon since 2013, and in Lockhart River since 2016. This is a level of commitment that the children and young people in these communities rarely experience, as so many programs just come and go. g-oz is not one of those programs. We know that positive change takes time and persistence, and can’t be achieved overnight.
Our program is not talent based and importantly we don’t exclude any girls from participating in our programs. We work with both children and adults knowing that this work will ultimately serve our aim to enhance the lives of teenaged girls.
Because our program outcomes speak for themselves
Girls who participate in g-oz programs have access to new ways of thinking, new experiences and new opportunities. We’re so pleased to be able to present positive outcomes from our programs and we are excited to see these grow from strength to strength.
Short term, we see a measurable improvement in school attendance rates and engagement in education. This is tracked using quantitative methods such as school attendance records, and qualitative methods such as pre and post program interviews with participants. Since 2010, more than 100 g-oz participants have travelled on 14 travel programs, visiting Adelaide, Brisbane, Melbourne, Perth or Sydney. Of these girls, 89% are employed or still studying – at their local school, at schools all over the country or in higher education. Long term, we expect that participants bring the skills they have learned back to their communities in an effort to break cross-generational cycles of disadvantage.
Ultimately, g-oz aims to raise the capacity of young women to set and achieve life goals and make meaningful choices – it is about helping to grow and nurture educated, confident, independent, happy and skilled young women.
- “This week I really enjoyed g-oz. G-oz makes me feel very happy, strong and proud of who I am."Mysti Bedford-McGintyg-oz Participant - Halls Creek District High School
- "The Girls from Oz instructors coach the girls to be happy, building their self-esteem and resilience using dance and singing as a tool. They interact in the most accepting and caring manner that students respond to. The girls know that Girls from Oz care about them as people first and foremost.”Rosemary PatersonDeputy Principal - Carnarvon Community College
- “Dancing and singing is fun, even my little sister now knows the moves and how to sing songs because I taught her. One girl came up to me and said ‘how can you sing and dance like that?’ I said it doesn’t matter I’m loving it and I’m not shame.”Kristyng-oz participant - Halls Creek District High School
- “It gives them a lot of confidence, it encourages them to be more than what they are and makes them feel they are capable of anything.”Michelle EllisParent of g-oz participant
- “I like g-oz because it helped me build my confidence and helped me express myself as a young woman and now I use those skills that I developed with g-oz in my job for Shooting Stars”Ren AbreuProgram Assistant - Shooting Stars
- “Girls from Oz does potent, targeted, nuanced and intelligent work. It knows if you educate a girl, you educate a community.”Kathleen NoonanJournalist