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Thumbs Up: The effective use of music in health and well-being education for Australian Aboriginal youth in remote communities

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The academic literature on Australian Indigenous health and well-being suggests an overwhelming need for education to alleviate ‘lifestyle’ diseases and social dysfunction. Yet, the socio-cultural diversity of Australian Aboriginal communities provides a challenging landscape for efficacious and long-lasting support processes. The ‘Uncle Jimmy Thumbs Up!’ (UJTU) programme is facing these issues from an innovative perspective. ‘Thumbs up’, addresses health and well-being in remote Aboriginal communities from the ground up by engaging in music education programmes with the youth of the community, which subsequently filters through to the broader community. Based on an analysis of the effectiveness of a ‘Thumbs Up’ case study, this article will present preliminary recommendations for working with Australian Indigenous youth and their broader communities through facilitated musical activities. Informal learning frameworks, which incorporate music-making shared between educators and community members, are shown to be a constructive means of engaging the youth and empowering them in the management of their health and well-being.
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Keywords: Indigenous Australian Community Programs; Indigenous Australians; Indigenous health and well-being; community music; empowerment education; music; youth development

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Griffith University

Publication date: February 1, 2018

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  • The International Journal of Community Music publishes research articles, practical discussions, timely reviews, readers' notes and special issues concerning all aspects of Community Music. The editorial board is composed of leading international scholars and practitioners spanning diverse disciplines that reflect the scope of Community Music practice and theory.
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