By Oliver Ramsay.
The RISE Refugees Music and Arts Festival is quickly becoming a force among refugees, survivors and ex-detainees in Melbourne.
RISE is an organisation that advocates for positive social change in respect to attitudes towards refugees, and better integration of refugees and ex-detainees into the community. One method for achieving this is celebrating the diversity of musical and artistic backgrounds of its members, as well as those those from broader parts of the community. RISE uses artistic expression as a means to reduce the social isolation that many marginalised youths feel when entering a new community.
The positive social message the group advocates is reflected in their attitudes to each other and enthusiasm for their cause.
The positive social message the group advocates is reflected in their attitudes to each other and enthusiasm for their cause. The energy on the day was truly admirable and, given many of their backgrounds, also inspiring. Each of the RISE volunteers was actively involved and noticeably enjoying watching the final results of their work.
Before the festival, RISE presented a short film and panel discussion at ACMI. The panel included Fighting for Air director, Fatima Mawas, and producer, Christina Radburn, following a screening of the film, as well as spoken word performers Tania Canas and Dominic Golding, who also performed on the night.
The theme for the evening, ‘diversity on stage and screen’ was timely given the launch of the National Indigenous TV Network on free-to-air just two days earlier, and opinions were strong and unanimous. The lack of diversity on Australian screens is a real issue in multicultural Australia and it was refreshing to hear open and candid discussions about the affect this has on minority communities. The problem is indicative of a broader issue of under-representation, inhibiting those of different ethnic backgrounds from fully integrating into the community, an issue which RISE has chosen to address head-on.
The RISE Refugees Music and Arts Festival was held on 15 December 2012.