Ms PRU GOWARD (Goulburn—Minister for Mental Health, Minister for Medical Research, Assistant Minister for Health, Minister for Women, and Minister for the Prevention of Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault) [5.31 p.m.]: I bring the attention of the House to an exciting and innovative program in my electorate of Goulburn, the Goulburn Strings Project. The Goulburn Strings Project is run by the Goulburn Regional Conservatorium for beginner strings students at Goulburn Public School in years 2 and 3. The project is the result of academic work conducted by the Goulburn Regional Conservatorium's Director, Paul Scott-Williams, and Dr Anita Collins from the University of Canberra, on the capacity of music to improve outcomes for children, particularly from disadvantaged circumstances.

Music feeds the soul and stimulates our hearts and our minds, and the sense of accomplishment from learning a musical instrument or becoming engaged with music given to a child manifests in that child becoming more engaged and confident at school as well as producing significant improvements in their maths, reading and writing skills. The benefits from learning an instrument and learning about music is something our local children and their parents are now experiencing, and thanks to the Goulburn Strings Project, more equitable access to music education in our region is now possible.

But it has not come easily. The project relies on generous donations from philanthropic organisations, as well as grants from the New South Wales Department of Education. However, the hard work has been worth it, and I take this opportunity to thank and congratulate everyone involved in this project on everything they have done to get this project off the ground and keep it going. I particularly congratulate Paul Scott-Williams from the conservatorium. I thank him for lighting a spark in so many local students, for showing them and their parents the positive impact music education can have on their lives.

I also inform the House that in a world first, the students from the Goulburn Strings Project will play alongside, as equal members, the Canberra Symphony Orchestra's professional musicians in Canberra as part of the Meet the Music concert series. The students, some of whom have been playing their instruments for only two years, will perform a piece of work called the Goulburn Concerto, composed especially for this performance by world-renowned Australian composer Sean O'Boyle, AO. This very composition will then be premiered in the United States of America later this year by three professional orchestras in Los Angeles, New York and Chicago, and will also include disadvantaged young musicians from those cities.

This program is giving so much to our local students, many of whom are from refugee backgrounds or have a parent in the Goulburn maximum security prison, with just under 20 per cent also coming from Indigenous backgrounds. For many of these children, it will be their first time stepping onto a stage to perform in front of an audience. I congratulate them on their courage and determination to try something so new. For many of their parents, this will also be their first time stepping into a concert hall, and I thank them for supporting their children's music education and opening their hearts and minds to the joy of music. I am delighted to be able to join the Conservatorium, the students and their parents in Canberra on 5 April to enjoy the Goulburn Concerto, and I am delighted to bring this truly innovative program to the attention of the House.


Pru retired
from politics in 2019.
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Authorised by Pru Goward, Parliament House, Macquarie Street, Sydney NSW 2000