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Young people having fun on drums are what the picture says and its pretty right. Pinjarra Senior High School students, who are part of the engagement group, come out to the C-Wise farm every week to do farm work and an hour or so of group drumming. None had any music playing background and all started the year together at the same level.

In less than 10 weeks they were able to perform in front of an audience of the C-Wise staff. This is a terrific achievement in its own rite. Ask the principal of the high school, Rob Lawson, what it’s all about and he says, “These youngsters were amongst the least engaged students in the school. They have grown in confidence and there is now a real buzz about them and that’s very exciting to see. ”


There is more to this than is immediately obvious. Drumbeat is a program developed in WA where it was used in the prison system particularly with aboriginal inmates to help them communicate and express their feelings within a friendly group environment.

The transformations were remarkable and the concept has spread all over the world. A comprehensive evaluation of the program concluded that it was effective in improving prisoner mental wellbeing in the immediate and longer term and in reducing psychological distress and increasing resilience in at least the short term.

The “Drumbeat Program” is the result of this pioneering work and is run by Perth based Holyoake a leading provider of drug and alcohol counseling and support services in Western Australia. Drumbeat is now used in a wide variety of spheres including: primary and high schools, youth services, indigenous communities, drug and alcohol rehabilitation services, child protection services, mental health settings, hospitals, refugee services, youth justice and adult prisons, returned service personnel (veterans), trauma recovery programs, disability services, aged care services and corporate teams.

Dave Cullen, a director of C-Wise, heard about the initiative and immediately wanted to bring it to the farm that surrounds the composting facility. He saw it as a way to give confidence and opportunity to the Pinjarra students who help to look after the animals and the property at Nambeelup. “Drumbeat is about empowering the human spirit,” he said.


The cost of implementing the program including the purchase of professional quality drums and the services of a facilitator/trainer will be met from the sale of cattle from the farm. This year there are 20 calves in the herd and these are growing more robust by the day on a fresh grass diet; so the future of the Drumbeat program is looking good.

Darryl Spargo, a teacher from Pinjarra High leads the class and manages all the farming activities on the site. “The hardest task this year was getting the students out of the shed, where they do their drumming, to do some work on the farm. They really love it,” he says.

After the concert put on by the students, C-Wise staff were invited to have a go. The smiling pictures tell of the result.