Community Restorative Centre staff Murray Cook and Kate Pinnock (Jailbreak Radio) were recently honoured to be asked to adjudicate at the inaugural Ozanam Learning Centre talent quest in Woolloomooloo. Thanks to the hard work and dedication of Music Coordinator Vlad Nestorovski 13 contestants, including three bands, were able to perform and compete for the first prize of a $300 Coles shopping voucher and similar second and third prizes. Most contestants came from homeless/disadvantaged/rehab backgrounds, and the diversity and depth of talent was great. Performers could avail themselves of the excellent musical equipment and PA supplied by the OLC.
From piano and sax solos, flamenco guitar, singer songwriters, to KISS impersonators and heavy metal, the show was run seamlessly to a full house of clients and staff. The judging was difficult because of the quality of the acts, but eventually after some deliberation first prize was awarded to singer-songwriter Space Engineer who beguiled the audience with his charm and wit, and heartfelt and masterful delivery of an original song detailing his difficult journey through life. Second prize went to a magnificent, intense solo flamenco guitar performance by Sean Bargwanna, and third prize went to the band The Battlers who sprung from the excellent music program at the Exodus Foundation in Ashfield.
Big props must go to host Clare who held the event together with verve, drollery and panache and could easily consider a future career in showbiz, and Vlad, Alarna and the rest of the Ozanam team for setting up and facilitating the smooth running of the event. It was great to be involved on behalf of CRC, as many of the participants and audience are potential clients for our Songwriting Workshops Program, which now counts OLC, Redfern Community Centre and Exodus Foundation amongst the potential places of interest, rehabilitation and learning for our target population of ex-inmates. A great afternoon was had by all, judging by all the smiling faces, and we are looking forward to involvement in more such events, such as a combined Christmas concert.
The latest edition of Miranda Matters is now available, covering all aspects of The Miranda Project program. In this issue we discuss new funding, Deirdre Hyslop’s Reintegration Champion award, and everything else that’s been going on.
This week is NAIDOC Week, and so yesterday the CRC celebrated in style, gathering with fellow staff and community members at the Redfern Community Centre to celebrate the importance, resilience and richness of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures by listening to music and performances, and eating amazing food together.
Legendary singer/songwriter Vic Simms gave the Welcome to Country and entertained the crowd during lunch, and didgeridoo player Brendan Mitchell demonstrated how his instrument is used in traditional story-telling, with some humorous modern updates thrown in. CRC musicians Xenia, Rhys, Mindy and Murray sang the traditional song Ngarra Burra Ferra, and there was a viewing of the Caught Up hip-hop music video which was produced by CRC’s Jailbreak as an education resource on hepatitis C.
Thanks to our host on the day Ken Canning, Vic Simms, Brendan Mitchell, the CRC musicians Xenia, Murray, Mindy & Rhys, all staff and support at Redfern Community Centre, CESPHN, Coles for supplying food, and everyone who helped prepare the lovely sausage sizzle and cakes (including Gwen for the amazing NAIDOC cake). And special thanks to the CRC’s Paul Bates for pulling the whole event together and inspiring everyone at CRC.
It was a wonderful day, and we’ll definitely be doing something similar next year.
CRC’s Miranda Project Director Deirdre Hyslop recently accepted the Reintegration Champion Award for 2017, at the Reintegration Puzzle Conference which was held in Sydney this year.
Deirdre has worked tirelessly for many years, and made a huge difference to the lives of people in the criminal justice system in NSW. She is the quiet achiever, and without her vision and tenacity many criminal justice system initiatives would not have seen the light of day.
Congratulations and thank you to Deirdre for everything you have done and continue to do.
Surviving for 65 years as a specialist NGO working in criminal justice, with a social justice heart, and an explicit commitment to advocacy for people coming out of prison is a pretty damn big achievement.
To celebrate, properly, this year for our AGM we pulled together a talented bunch of musicians and performers who either worked in and around the prisons, and/or had their own lived experience of imprisonment – and put on a gigantic show at the Seymour Centre. The night was one of those miraculously connected nights, filled with laughter and song and tears and beautiful words, and people coming together from all over the place to somehow generate a huge mountain of hope and joy. These pics by the talented Stu Spence capture some of what happened.
Anyway, we at CRC are SO grateful to all of you have supported our work along the way, and we look forward to continuing to work to break cycles of imprisonment and poverty in 2017. In the meantime, we are wishing you all a ridiculously happy and safe holidays and new year.