MOST CHILDREN’S CHARITIES TREAT PHYSICAL NEEDS…BUT WHAT ABOUT THEIR EMOTIONAL NEEDS?
The ACMF is a not-for-profit organisation that provides music instruments and programs for disadvantaged and Indigenous children and youth in schools, remote communities and juvenile justice centres across Australia. Research has proven that participation in music has a significant impact on a child’s mental health and development.
Music lessons provide a wide scope of opportunity for all students. For the reluctant learner, they provide a non-threatening and fun way to participate in learning. For the overly energetic student, they provide an outlet for that boundless energy and for the student requiring discipline, they provide a powerful carrot to reward them for managing their impulsivity. All of these benefits positively impact on student learning outcomes.
The Australian Children’s Music Foundation (ACMF) was founded in 2002 by Don Spencer OAM with the vision to use the power of music to inspire and enrich the lives of all Australian children and youth particularly the less advantaged and Indigenous. More than 75% of public schools in Australia do not have the funds to provide a specialised music teacher, therefore, many children and youth are unable to enjoy the many benefits of a music education.
The ACMF passionately believes that no child should be deprived of access to a music education. We believe that this should be a right, not a privilege. Music is food for the soul and inspires imagination, creativity and brings joy and hope along with other significant social and intellectual benefits. Through music, children and youth can find a way to express their emotions and channel their energies and abilities into something positive and creative. Research has proven that playing a musical instrument has mental health benefits, reduces recidivism, improves engagement with learning, improves literacy and numeracy as well as behaviour and self-esteem.
The ACMF has been working providing free, weekly, long term and sustainable music programs to Indigenous and disadvantaged schools and communities, multi-cultural and isolated schools and Juvenile Justice Centres across Australia. A customised flexible music program is developed in partnership with the schools and centres, based on the specific needs of, and desired outcomes for, the students and includes the permanent donation of instruments to the school or centre.
The ACMF has programs operating in every state. Click here to see our full list of programs.
Some of our proud achievements
ACMF music programs reach over 3000 children and youth weekly, with programs running in kindergartens, primary, secondary, behavioural schools and 17 of the 20 Juvenile Detention Centres Australia-wide.
The ACMF music program in the NSW Youth Drug and Alcohol Court Program was described by Hilary Hannam (the Children’s Court Magistrate in 2010) as “the best program incorporated in the Court Program in the last 10 years”.
Over the last nine years, the ACMF has donated more than $410,000 worth of musical instruments to less privileged young people through schools, foundations, and through the annual National Songwriting Competition.
A Darwin based school that had serious truancy problems, reported as much as a 90% school attendance rate, as a direct result of the ACMF music program implementation.
The Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations continues to endorse every ACMF program.
NSW Juvenile Justice Department continues to sponsor the ACMF music program in four NSW Juvenile Justice Centres.
In the past 12 months
In partnership with the Top End Group Schools, we expanded our Indigenous & Isolated Regions music programs, now with a total of over 20 schools in the Northern Territory.
Professor Margaret Barrett has commenced a 12 month research project which is funded by Arts NSW at four schools with an ACMF program in NSW.
Rotary support has increased around Australia, several districts selecting the ACMF as their charity of choice, fundraising and collecting instruments for redistribution to disadvantaged communities.
A strong partnership with the Australian Chamber Orchestra. Members of the ACO visit Matraville Soldiers’ Settlement Public School to perform and participate in music workshops with the children.
We had a major website upgrade.
Message from Don Spencer OAM, Founder & CEO
The Australian Children’s Music Foundation programs are designed to bring joy and inspiration to the lives of children and youth who are on the wrong side of advantage. Children who have been abused, neglected, traumatised. Children who are ‘lost’. Music enhances creativity and imagination, self-esteem and self-expression. You need all of these attributes if you are to change your life for the better.
Message from the hon. peter Garrett AM MP
As the Minister for School Education, Early Childhood and Youth I would like to congratulate the Australian Children’s Music Foundation for its work in schools throughout Australia. In particular for the immensely valuable work of the Foundation in Juvenile Justice Centres and in disadvantaged and Indigenous communities.
A growing body of research argues that music can improve attendance, increase student resilience and wellbeing, improve concentration levels and has academic benefits for other areas of education including literacy and numeracy. Learning music helps students to express their emotions and improve their concentration levels. In Juvenile Justice Centres, learning music can make a huge difference to young people who have made the wrong choices in life. Music helps these young people to express themselves and gives them something they can look forward to and on which they can concentrate. It gives them skills to build on and hope for the future. In schools, ACMF programs are an important tool to improve student engagement, mental health, and learning outcomes particularly for Indigenous students and students from disadvantaged backgrounds.
I commend the Australian Children’s Music Foundation for their sterling work to inspire young Australians using the power of music. I strongly believe that being taught music is an essential part of a child’s education and share the Foundation’s desire to bring music into the lives of young people. The Australian Government is committed to providing an arts-rich curriculum that is accessible and enjoyable for all our young people – no matter where they live. I wish the ACMF continued success in their support of music education across Australia.
Message from our patron her excellency, professor marie bashir ac, cvo governor of nsw
The work of Don Spencer OAM and the Australian Children’s Music Foundation is indeed important to the mental health of disadvantaged Australian children. It is a cause in which I have taken a keen interest, having experienced the remarkable difference that involvement in the arts, particularly music, can make to children and young people who may have lost their way in our society, or who are in danger of doing so.
For the majority of Australians who have had no personal interaction with young people in juvenile detention, it is hard to comprehend the terrible circumstances into which many of them are born and experience every day. Few of us are aware of the sense of hopelessness and despair that can lead to many of these young people acting out destructive thoughts and behaviour upon themselves and upon others. This is what the work of the ACMF is about – to bring hope, joy and purpose through music to young people who have lost their way; and also, through Don’s foresight, to young people in disadvantaged and Indigenous areas who are at high risk of going down that path.
We have all experienced how music can change the way we are feeling. Don and the ACMF teachers recognise what resonates with young people. They connect with them through contemporary music programs such as hip hop, drumming, songwriting, singing and instrument tuition. These programs are often the first time a young person is given the opportunity to learn anything with which they connect and can enjoy. This can lead not only to improvement in mental health and behaviour, but also a realisation that learning can be a pleasurable and meaningful experience. This re-engagement with education is vital to the welfare of disadvantaged youth and is of considerable value in promoting a healthy, inclusive, functioning society.
I fully support and commend the fine work of the Australian Children’s Music Foundation and I urge you to do all you can to support their work with our troubled youth and disadvantaged and Indigenous children. I wish the ACMF continued success in their support of music education across Australia.