DRUMBEAT is a music and mindfulness based social and emotional learning program, originally created by Holyoake, a non-profit organisation that offers evidence-based programs to enable lasting change for individuals, families and communities.

Seed funded by the Harold and Gwynneth Harris Endowment for the Medical Humanities, DRUMBEAT was piloted in 2016 at the University Department of Rural Health at Broken Hill under the lead of Social Work Academic Nicky Wright. The pilot program has since grown into an enormously successful  activity conducted in and beyond the University’s health hubs as described following by Ms Wright:

DRUMBEAT is an evidence-based social and emotional learning program that uses Djembe hand drums. The acronym stands for Developing Relationships Using Music, Beliefs, Emotions, Attitudes and Thoughts. DRUMBEAT has had a life of its own over the last two years and has grown into a program that reaches into many parts of our work and community. The seed funding provided us with 16 drums. Having these drums available for loan was absolutely instrumental in getting things off the ground as the program could be trialed by schools and local NGOs without a capital cost to them. A local Arts in Health submission in 2017 through the Far West Local Health District, secured a further 5 drums. The local area Department of Education purchased 24 more drums in 2017 as a shared resource for local schools. In partnership with the Coomealla Health Aboriginal Corporation, 2019 funds have been secured for drums, groups and facilitator training via an application to the NIB Community Fund.

In brief, here is what we have been up to:

  • Eight of our 9 schools in Broken Hill now have trained staff, with 7 schools regularly running drumming sessions and 6 schools owning their own set of drums.
  • Two school-based PrimaryHealth care Registered Nurses have completed training and have been involved.
  • Twenty-one social work students have participated in the training and delivery of the program with the majority of them eligible for accreditation by the time they finish placement.
  • Drumming has found its way into one preschool, with plans to have some sessions at the School of the Air preschool days in 2019.
  • With social work student support, drumming has been part of public events with Headspace, NAIDOC day and the annual town parade.
  • DRUMBEAT sessions have been delivered in NGO services for both adults with mental illness and disability and this week sessions started in an alcohol and other drug(AOD) use disorders recovery group through the Department of Health.
  • At theBroken Hill University Department of Rural Health (UDRH)the 8-week program has successfully been delivered to both speech and occupational therapy students as an alternative model of supervision.
  • Drumming for Health is a regular session on our inter-professional education planner.
  • Twice weekly informal, after work drumming sessions are held at UDRH, attended regularly by a small number of health and UDRH staff, students and teachers.
  • The DRUMBEAT program has been delivered in our remote communities of Dareton, Balranald, Menindee and Wilcannia, facilitated by social works students, UDRH and NGO staff.
  • A research study that looks at the experience of social work students in delivering the DRUMBEAT program is well underway.
Posted by Dr Claire Hooker, Senior Lecturer, Health and Medical Humanities; Director, Bioethics program, Sydney Health Ethics, Faculty of Medicine and Health, University of Sydney