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Byron Shire
September 21, 2023

Busking For Change in the Northern Rivers

Latest News

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Funds raised from Busking For Change, supports remote Communities to access and create books in languages they speak at home. Photo Wayne Quilliam

If there is one thing that Northern Rivers communities loves, it’s a good busker and after a successful pilot program in 2022, Busking For Change is launching nationally – we’re in!

Primary schools across the country are being invited to be Busking For Change changemakers  in a simple and joyful fundraiser.

Students commit to learn to sing, play an instrument or dance to a given song, and seek donations from family and friends.

Money raised supports the Indigenous Literacy Foundation (ILF) and the access and
creation of books for children in remote Communities across Australia, where resources are

The charity event was initiated by five-time ARIA award-winner and ILF Lifetime
Ambassador, Josh Pyke in 2009, and subsequently raised over $50,000. ‘I always thought it could be more than just a pub gig,’ says Josh.

Music is a joyful celebration

ILF Ambassadors Justine Clarke and Josh Pyke with Busking for Change student. Photo Joseph Mayers.

‘Music is a joyful celebration individually or as a group. Busking For Change shares this celebration along with raising funds for the ILF to support more kids in remote Communities to access and write and illustrate their own stories or songs in the languages they speak at home.

‘Busking For Change, sums it up!’

This year, four celebrated First Nations musicians, Jeremy Marou, DOBBY, Tilly Tjala
Thomas and Aodhan have jumped on board to support and promote Busking For Change.

Collectively, they share Josh’s passion for musical literacy and his vision to inspire young
changemakers and support First Nations literacy in remote Communities.

The 2023 song is Words Make The World Go Around, a single created through an inspiring
collaboration between ILF Ambassadors Josh Pyke, Justine Clarke, Deborah Cheetham and
students from the Gawura School, St Andrews Cathedral School, in Sydney.

Busking For Change students are encouraged to learn the entire song or just the chorus in Kriol.

Busking For Change website

A new Busking For Change website provides schools with the charts, lyrics, instructional
videos and support that allows teachers and students to learn the song in both English and

The good news is, teachers don’t have to be experienced musicians to participate. ‘If you can’t play an instrument, you can sing along, dance along, or simply read the lyrics
aloud,’ says Pyke.

Busking For Change aligns with the National Curriculum languages, music, art, drama and encourages the next generation of change makers. ‘But most importantly it is fun and it encourages discussions around First Nations affairs, languages, literacy and civic duty.’

ILF CEO, Ben Bowen, is excited about the fundraiser and the opportunity for primary
students around Australia to learn words in a First Nations language.

‘It expands the literacy lens to include music, singing and movement. And learning this
catchy song in an Aboriginal language ties in with a goal of UNESCO’s Decade of Indigenous Languages (2022-2032), to promote First Nations languages,’ says Bowen.

Money raised helps support remote Communities

‘The money raised helps us to support remote Communities to access and create books in languages they chose. It’s a win-win.

Here’s how it works:
● Students commit to learning to play, sing, or dance to a song
● Students gather support/donations from their friends and family
● Once students master the song, they ‘busk’ or perform their rendition collectively or
individually to their friends, family, school, or post a video online.

Week one of Term 3

Primary schools can sign up now for the fundraiser, which will start nationally in week one of Term 3 and culminates with entire schools, classrooms, groups or individual students
performing their final busk on Indigenous Literacy Day, Wednesday 6 September.

Indigenous Literacy Day is a national celebration of First Nation peoples’ stories, cultures
and languages. Josh is keen to see schools across Australia engage with this day and sing a
song in an Aboriginal language. ‘It is something they will remember for years to come. The joyful song and the knowledge they have contributed to something bigger than themselves.’

Registrations are open now via the website buskingforchange.ilf.org.au. Schools are
encouraged to sign up before the start of Term 3.

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