Closing the gap in Indigenous health and wellbeing in remote settings in the Torres Strait and Northern Peninsula Area of Far North Queensland (FNQ) includes addressing a well-documented sexual health disadvantage among young people. Community mobilization around the underlying risk factors influencing sexual health is required.
Performing-arts-based workshops were conducted in schools and after-school venues in four remote Aboriginal and Torres Strait islander locations in FNQ in early 2010, to initiate consciousness-raising around the real dimensions of youth sexual health risk. Specific objectives included strengthening operational partnerships at school-level and developing ongoing consultative processes in each location for sexual health reference group development.
Results include a significantly strengthened productive partnership with primary and high schools in each location and sixteen production-ready hip hop songs exploring a range of physical, emotional and sexual health themes authored by the students and recorded on site. Additional outcomes included the willingness of community councils and civil society organizations to support local sexual health reference group activity.
This initiative, the Indigenous Hip Hop Project, although accompanied by opportunity costs including alternative, more core business uses of staff time and program budget, has demonstrated the power of tapping the creative energy of young people at risk and the potential for mobilizing communities to activism around sexual health disadvantage.