Junaa Buwa! has a visit from international touring group
The Tiwi Island music group, B2M (Bathurst to Melville) recently dropped in to Junaa Buwa! Centre for Youth Wellbeing to run an inspirational Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Cultural Yarning Circle and music workshop during downtime on their national tour.
Mission Australia's Junaa Buwa! is an intensive residential rehabilitation centre focussing on helping 13 to 18-year-olds overcome the issues that have led to them being caught up in the juvenile justice system.
"It was a moving time for all of the young people here. B2M performed and told the stories behind their music and made connections with our young people through their shared experience. The Yarning Circle was a special process, as they were able to share about trials they've faced and be heard and affirmed by the group," Jesse Taylor, Program Manager said.
At the end of the workshop, the band offered all the young people free tickets to their concert in Coffs Harbour that night. At the concert, the boys were invited backstage – which 17-year-old Jason* shared was a pretty incredible experience.
"This is the most amazing thing I have ever been a part of. The band dedicated a song to us boys of Junaa Buwa! at the show last night. I'm planning on going to catch up with the band in the Northern Territory when I complete the program and get connected to my culture," Coen* said.
B2M formed in 2004 in their hometown of Nguiu in the Tiwi Islands. The band is made up of six Aboriginal men who sing about issues facing young people such as drug and alcohol misuse and mental health.
Their lyrics come from their life experiences growing up in an Aboriginal community and seeing first-hand the effects of drugs and alcohol on their people. Lead vocalist Jeffrey 'Yello' Simon says they're aiming to "give the kids a voice through music."
As part of the visit, the band helped young people at Junaa Buwa! do just that by turning their life experiences into song. The process involved creating conversation around issues they've faced, teasing them out and turning them into lyrics. Music was then mixed in with the lyrics for a final performance at the end of the workshop.
The workshop helped to create valuable cultural connection for Aboriginal young people involved. Many of the songs of B2M draw from a strong tapestry of dreamtime stories, including ancient song lines from the Tiwi Islands, which the band gained permission from local elders to use.
"Connecting to culture really helps me understand myself better, why I am how I am and what I need to do to make my life better - more meaningful,” said 18-year-old Thom*. “I was told how the Stolen Generation affected my grandparents and my parents' generations – we need healing, and opportunities like this help a lot. Thank you for making this happen.”
*Name changed to protect the identity of the people we help
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