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Byron Shire
June 2, 2023

‘After Disaster’ film and live concert, March 27 

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Kim Shelley from the Mullum District Neighbourhood Centre, Alex Hudson, Janet Swain, Remy (pictured behind) and Emily Lubitz. Photo Jeff Dawson.

Working with kids from both The Pocket Primary and Upper Main Arm Primary in the aftermath of the 2022 floods, Janet Swain saw a need to support these kids, many of whom had experienced the full force of the floods and landslips, not once, but twice. 

Some lost family homes and property and were displaced from their school. 

With many years of experience with the healing and connective nature of music, Janet set about to create a program to help explore and express some of the traumatic impacts the 2022 floods left on our young people. 

And with funding through the NSW government’s Reconnecting Regional NSW Grants program, The After Disaster Project was born. 

The project consists of four local songwriters – Harry James Angus, Emily Lubitz, Ash Grunwald and Janet Swain, who worked with the kids to create a song cycle about the floods, climate change and future action.

Additionally, composer and percussionists, Michael and Samaya Askill, mentored Main Arm students to create a sonic reflection on the flood event. 

It all culminated in a big free concert for our community, with 200 kids, along with these fabulous musicians performing the songs they had created together. 

The outcomes far exceeded expectations – the songs were deeply moving, uplifting and they also highlighted the incredible resilience and creativity of our wonderful community. There was not a dry eye in the house. These are the stories of our kids; these songs are their songs. 

Project documented

This whole project was documented by our own award-winning filmmaker, Sharon Shostak and has resulted in the much-awaited After Disaster documentary. She is excited to premiere the film during the Byron Shire Council’s Month of Reflection on the Flood Events of 2022. 

This is a free event, and there will be four screenings over two days, at the Mullumbimby Ex-Services Club, on March 27 and 28. 

It will include performances by Emily Lubitz and Janet Swain, with the Upper Main Arm Primary and Pocket Schools combined choir, and the Big Voice Community Choir. 

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