Chorus sings out against family violence

Jonathon Welch and Voices of Casey singer Paulien George. 185181_01 Picture: GARY SISSONS

By Cam Lucadou-Wells

A ground-breaking project combines the might of Casey’s choirs singing out against family violence.

You’re the Voice is led by Jonathon Welch, the founder of Choir of Hard Knocks and Voices of Casey community choirs.

The project was launched at Dandenong RSL on 10 October with a soaring choral rendition of You’re the Voice made famous by ex-Dandenong singer John Farnham.

The lyrics once penned as a Vietnam War protest were equally pertinent to family violence, Dr Welch said.

“We’re all someone’s daughter/ We’re all someone’s son,” he recited.

“How long can we look at each other/ Down the barrel of a gun?”

Dr Welch and several members in the Voices of Casey choir were touched by family violence. At age 60, Dr Welch svays he is bringing up two nephews after rescuing them from an abusive household.

“I’ve truly learnt the value of community choirs through my work over the last two decades.

“It’s more than just singing, it’s about friendship, it’s about support, it’s about everyone caring about each other.

“It’s about looking around the periphery of our backyard and not just straight ahead.”

A Voices of Casey choir member told of escaping two abusive relationships.

For 45 years she had not sung. Being a member of the choir had “turned my life around”, she said.

John Wells, president of Dandenong-Cranbourne RSL, said he grew up in a family of eight boys with loving parents that “fought like Kilkenny cats”.

He saw his father break a chair over his mother’s head, his mum run a hot iron up his dad’s arm.

“For me, the violence in us all is so close to the surface at times.”

Mr Wells “looked down a barrel of a gun” at war.

“So your words resonate with me.

“What you’re doing is important. It goes to the basis of a fair go, it goes to the basis of looking after and loving each other.”

The project involves a series of workshops conducted by Dr Welch and Claire Patti of Australian Voices.

It is supported by City of Casey and Dandenong-Cranbourne RSL.

You’re the Voice culminates in a combined Casey choirs concert conducted by Dr Welch at Bunjil Place, Narre Warren on 25 November. Details: bunjilplace.com.au

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