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Why is this Social Enterprise Needed?

The Sweet Freedom enterprise is needed to provide opportunities for individuals, communities and the general public to re-vision those who are marginalised as valuable members of society and for their emerging insights to positively influence governmental and societal policy. The distress and life challenges experienced by those who are marginalised need to be understood. Their resilient spirit needs to be celebrated and made available as a positive influence for all who have ears to hear.. The involvement, contribution and high quality outcomes from participants in Sweet Freedom’s programs confirm this claim.

Sweet Freedom had its origins in a project entitled Scattered People in the late 1990’s. The Scattered People project invited asylum seekers using music to voice their experience of trauma, their aspirations toward a life of safety and their subsequent request for solidarity. Support for the resulting album of songs from Amnesty International resulted in global momentum for this album. The BBC contacted us and the United Nations played our songs on Dili Radio in East Timor to encourage people to vote in that emerging nation’s first democratic elections. Xanana Gusmao sent us a note of appreciation. Subsequent performances of the Scattered People at peace rallies etc revealed a gathering of asylum seekers and kindred-spirited locals – Sinhalese standing with Tamils, Ethiopians lining up with Eritreans – all singing of their hopes for a life without conflict where their children will grow in a safe and productive environment..

We’d read about the power of music. Here we were experiencing it.

Following our success with Scattered People, we started to receive invitations from other marginalised gatherings. The Zillmere State School whose population was made up of 30% Aboriginal students, 20% Pacific Islander and 12% CALD children invited us to use music as a vehicle to harness solidarity and to re-construct confidence in children who were said (by the Principal) to be struggling with a collective low self-esteem. Aboriginal legend Kev Carmody worked with us on the Zillmere version of ‘From Little Things Big Things Grow’. According to ABC Radio, the Zillmere version of that Paul Kelly/Kev Carmody classic is their most requested song ever.

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groupMore music-based projects followed with refugee children, unaccompanied minors, people with disabilities, the Urandangi Aboriginal community etc – the ongoing invitations helped us to realise the value of establishing an over-arching record label/production house based on the principles of social justice and community development – showcasing the efforts of people who usually struggle to be heard. We have been inspired by that quote from Horace “Adversity has the effect of eliciting talents which, in more prosperous circumstances would have remained dormant”.

Our current involvements are with the Transformers (the Brisbane version of the Choir of Hard Knocks), with the ‘boat people’ housed in the Pinkenba Detention Centre as well those who have been granted access to community detention (please see attached). Our aim to “allow music to create a safe space where our humanity can intermingle with theirs, where traumas can be softened, where hopes can be strengthened and friendships nurtured” has been in direct defiance of the edict to the media under the Howard regime during the ‘children overboard’ crisis forbidding ‘personalising and humanising’ images of asylum seekers to be revealed to the Australian public.

copyright sweet freedom Ltd. 2015