How We Have Helped

Improve Wellbeing

” I have been depressed for some time now and I have been feeling very empty, lonely and lost. Most days I am crying. I had been going to see a Psychologist. The talks we had were good, but I was still going home crying. My son suggested music, as music is good for the soul. He went on to the internet and found the Melbourne choir at the Sofitel.  Tuesday  is choir night and I love looking forward to it. Singing makes me happy. I have met so many nice people in the choir. I am now a happy person once again. I am surrounded by people who love me, The Choir.  And that lovely young conductor Kym, how great is he? The way he has control of his choir, the people in the choir hang on to every word he says,  the way he moves. His actions, the way he jumps around, he sure puts a smile on everyone’s face, what a guy…We greet people at the front desk, we love seeing smiling faces coming towards us. I greet them by saying,  ‘Hi, my name is Sarah’ with a big smile on my face,  no more tears.”  Sarah from With One Voice Melbourne.

“I would like to thank more than any words can describe Tania de Jong, Peter Kronborg and Creativity Australia for helping to save my son’s life. You have given up your own time to help a young Chinese person suffering from depression to find his way in the world.  He now has a promising future. This organisation makes disadvantaged people like me feel powerful. You represent the whole image of Australia as caring and inclusive to people of all backgrounds. With One Voice Melbourne is like our family and you have given us so much love and joy. We will never forget it.”  Xiao Rong, a member of With One Voice Melbourne from China

“I’ve been with the choir for only a couple of months so I’m still bashful and shy but I’ve attended every single rehearsal… which is VERY unusual for me! I have social anxiety and PTSD/bipolar and lupus SLE, and a lot of the time it’s hard for me to commit to anything due to my health/mental health etc. But this choir is amazing the energy is amazing the people are amazing the singing is amazing! Every time I go to choir I am reminded of what happiness feels like. Every time I go to choir I am reminded of my purpose in life. Every time I go to choir I feel less isolated, more connected. I get inspired so much every time I go to choir and it’s so so SOOOOO much more than just a choir. I’m so lucky I found this choir and I can’t wait ’til the next rehearsal! Suddenly backgrounds, occupation, race, religion and disability disappear and instead there are only voices, song, smiles and happiness.” Liz, member of With One Voice Melbourne

“I had bad anxiety, mainly from not working, which could have become depression if I had not found With One Voice Greater Dandenong. Singing has helped as it makes me happy, it’s uplifting, but also talking to people who had similar problems. The choir is supportive. We sing happy songs that give a sense of positive good feeling. I always look forward to choir. I think I will be singing there until I can’t anymore. My wife noticed the difference in me. I’m back to me normal self now.” Julian, With One Voice Greater Dandenong 

“I’m thankful and grateful I’ve found With One Voice Melbourne in late 2011 because at the moment I’m going through some very difficult times for the second time since late 2011 because I had received the results of an online course on managing anxiety and depression that I completed I was not expecting and has left me suffering with social isolation and feeling socially isolated from friends and some members of my family as well the act of violence I was a victim and have been a survivor of since in 2012.” Bianca, member of With One Voice Melbourne

“Thank you for the opportunity to literally and metaphorically have my voice heard – I felt, and still do, like I was a participant in something well worth doing and am still wearing my pride with a big smile and love in my heart. For me the performance experience was one of great joy and euphoria. And to regain the respect of my family is an added bonus! Photos taken by my brother were sent to everyone before I returned home – I cannot explain just how absolutely fantastic I felt and still do. Everyone was so happy for me. I felt like I was giving a present to others but also receiving so much more.”  Michelle, a With One Voice choir member

“My name is Vikki. I began singing with Geelong Sings in 2011. It was a slow start, as I was recovering from a flare up of a chronic back condition. I had been largely housebound, lonely & getting depressed. Joining the choir gave me something to look forward to every week, and a challenge as well. Everyone was very friendly & supportive and I quickly felt I had a new circle of friends. There were performances to be involved in, I sang in my first Xmas concert at Ocean Grove, which was great. I am learning new music skills and my voice is becoming stronger. It’s been fantastic and I am very grateful for the opportunity to be a part of the choir! Thankyou.” Vikki Davey, With One Voice Geelong

“I was looking for peace elsewhere, I couldn’t find it.  Once I joined this choir I have peace of mind.” Sarojini, With One Voice Greater Dandenong

“Reflecting on my recent months, I wanted to take the time to write you a brief note to let you know the impact the choir has had on me. I am anything BUT a wallflower in my day job (see important sounding job title below) but at the choir I keep a low profile. I take in and observe. I listen to the powerful stories of others and wish the voice in my head sounded better out loud. I am the girl who put into the wishlist bag that I wanted lots of puppies and to be happy every day.

But that’s not why I’m writing. I wanted to share with you the reason why I joined the choir and how it’s giving me so much back than you might know as you see me there hidden at the back in Natalie’s harmony “crew”. You see, my beautiful identical twin sister was diagnosed 12 months ago with a rare form of brain cancer that is sadly not curable. We are both extremely positive and empowered (I’m in the process of building a website to raise awareness for the cancer which is so under-funded), but it is undoubtedly a HEAVY time. Radiation first and now 6 months of chemotherapy. Every one of my absences from choir since I started is due to my commitment to my sister – taking her to oncology appointments and looking after her when she’s sick.

In fact when Tania came to RedBalloon to share the Sydney Sings opportunity, it was not my desire to sing that drew me to it. It was being able to ESCAPE for a few hours a week from my massive responsibilities at work AND home and have some time to recharge ME. You have given me that gift. But as I now sing loudly(still not well, but enthusiastic nonetheless) in my Holden Astra on my way to and from work and am filled with a quiet sense of joy each time, I realise how much more the choir gives. It has become not just an escape, but it makes me HAPPY at the same time.

Thank you for your energy and what you are doing for so many in the group.” Kristie, With One Voice  Sydney 

“Thanks so much for a wonderful, joyful, songful evening. I was tired and emotionally flat after another funeral yesterday so the singing was healing” Cecil , the Pastor at the Lutheran Church of Australia

“So far I am enjoying so much being in the choir…It is a great challenge that stimulates motivation as well as keeping the brain active. Being in the choir for me is very important, as it provides me with social connection, as well as giving me the joy of singing and performing. I joined the choir at a difficult stage of my life, where I had to make some medical decisions due to injuries I sustained as a result of what at time seemed to be a small accident at home. I am still dealing with it, so it gives me much comfort to feel ‘normal’ when I am in the choir. I believe we must continue to live, even if we are not 100%.” Sarita, With One Voice Greater Dandenong

 

Migrants, Refugees & People Of Diverse Faiths

“I would like to thank more than any words can describe Tania de Jong, Peter Kronborg and Creativity Australia for helping to save my son’s life. You have given up your own time to help a young Chinese person suffering from depression to find his way in the world.  He now has a promising future. This organisation makes disadvantaged people like me feel powerful. You represent the whole image of Australia as caring and inclusive to people of all backgrounds. With One Voice Melbourne is like our family and you have given us so much love and joy. We will never forget it.”  Xiao Rong, a member of With One Voice Melbourne from China

Now a pensioner, Rosie came to Australia from Croatia for a better life many years ago. She has no family in Australia. Her support worker heard about With One Voice and accompanied Rosie to the Harmony Day performance in Collins Place. Rosie was immediately captivated, attended the very next With One Voice Melbourne rehearsal and has attended weekly ever since. Rosie describes the With One Voice Melbourne choir sessions as how she imagines heaven to be – filled with all walks of life, all getting along, all welcoming of each other, all inspired by each other. “I am alone, I have no family in Australia, I never married. Believe me, this choir means so much to me. This choir is next to God for me. It has brought so much joy into my life.”

“For my first six months in Australia, I was quite isolated because I was sad about what had happened to me and my family. I had no family or friends here and it was very hard for me to adjust. The Asylum Seeker Resource Centre was looking after me and they told me about singing in the choir. I love arts and music, but I’ve never had the chance to sing because there are many fundamentalists in Afghanistan and we weren’t allowed. I have been thinking about human emotions in cultural diversity and how all the emotions are here in a single choir. The beauty of singing is that it lifts you up and keeps you going.’’ Abrar, member of With One Voice Melbourne and Afghani refugee

“I have had a spinal operation and since the operation I felt cut off from the rest of the world. My days were filled with unhappiness, that was until I joined the With One Voice Melbourne choir and was embraced by compassion and love of truly compassionate people, such as yourself. Now, I am happy. I can use my voice, my whole heart to thank all of those people who have helped create this wonderful organisation.” Xiao Rong Nheu, member of With One Voice Melbourne

“I always regard singing as a way to express your feeling because people say that your voice is the reflection of your soul. Every time I come I sing very happily. [We] open our hearts and make friends. [It] makes your life rich and also this is a means for us to mix together with Australian society which is very important.” Diana, Chinese migrant, member of With One Voice Melbourne and resident of Collingwood/Fitzroy estate

“I always loved singing, especially in choirs, because of the interactions between different parts. I just love it. This choir unites a special spirit that uplifts and motivates. I really like that feeling of being around positive people.” Lu, member of With One Voice Melbourne and international student from China

“At Christmas Island at the detention centre, with my friends I was always singing. We believe a tradition in West Papua if we keep singing … all our prayers will be answered. It makes everyone happy. We’re not just laughing. It expresses from the heart through the body. It makes everyone come together.” Adolf, member of With One Voice Melbourne and refugee from West Papua

“I am originally from Jakarta, Indonesia. I came to Melbourne nine months ago, alone. Imagine coming to a foreign country in a different culture, all by yourself without your family and your friends. Imagine if not only you were alone, but also just a young little girl in a big, big secular country, when you’re wearing head scarves like this. The first few weeks were a bit hard.

I was feeling lonely, I was feeling a bit isolated, I was missing home. Then a friend at the office asked if I would be interested to check out a choir. I was like… oh well, I don’t think I can sing. But I am glad I could come to rehearsal because I got to meet this beautiful people here. I found a home away from home. We all come from all walks of life, and it feels just like a family. It’s true that it is the music that brings us together but really its so much more than that.

It’s about sharing the joy, the love, the beautiful things in life. Imagine if you could go every week, free yourself of all your troubles, to actually find the time to celebrate the beauty of life and to appreciate wonderful people around you. Imagine if you could do that every week, wouldn’t you just be happier? Because I am! There is happiness around and I want to share it. That is why I sing; this is why we sing.” Elok, member of With One Voice Melbourne and immigrant from Indonesia

“Thank you for the opportunity to participate in the choir and to have this wonderful experience.   Last time I was forced to sing in the school choir about 45 years ago back in Ukraine. As I mentioned, my son is getting married next month and there are many thoughts in my head about this upcoming event.  Singing in the choir took me from earth and moved above. I was relaxed, warm and felt that I am just flying, and for an hour of singing all thoughts have disappeared. What a great way to re-charge the energy.” Klaudia, member of With One Voice Melbourne

 

Our Corporate partners

“Your presentation on the Creative Australia charity’s With One Voice program was inspirational. We are extremely thankful that you were able to donate your time in support of the Monash University Diversity and Inclusion Week. It was a great opportunity to learn how the With One Voice program engages people of diverse backgrounds, assisting those in need and breaking down social barriers. It was wonderful to meet you and your speech was highly engaging.” Monash University

“I am part of the RedBalloon crew that sings on Tuesday nights and I am having the most amazing time. It is the highlight of my week!” Angela, member of With One Voice Sydney

“I love the choir. Its one of ANZ’s best ideas! I leave the choir and feel alive and full of energy. I have met some lovely new people also which is great. Our conductor is wonderful, couldn’t ask for a better trainer. He makes the choir so enjoyable with his great sense of humour.” Member of With One Voice ANZ

“We are extraordinarily pleased with the numbers to date and the success of the Choir. It has worked better than we had anticipated and the benefits to those involved are clear. For staff doing incredibly difficult, taxing and at times quite sad work it has been a wonderful opportunity to do something uplifting and positive with others involved in the service, it has resulted in greater awareness of different parts of our OYH communities work and experiences too amongst all the participants. We are also very excited that more of our clients are participating and seeing them singing solos at Melbourne Town Hall was incredibly inspiring. It shows us how much we can achieve when we sing together as one. Some of the group have also begun to discuss the idea of authoring another OYH song for the Choir.” Kerryn Pennell, Director of Strategy, Development & Policy at Orygen Youth Health

“I really look forward to the choir it gives my week a focus and gives my day some structure….I didn’t realise it would be this much fun!”Orygen Youth Health

“It’s great to do something that is both challenging and uplifting right in the middle of the week… it certainly helps with managing the stress of our work.” Orygen Youth Health

“The choir offers an opportunity for people to extend their socialization and build relationships outside of their everyday routines. The positive benefits of this are multi-layered. … Opportunities to access such groups are often limited or restricted. Geelong Sings is a unique and valuable format to further socialization activities and extend relationships. Congratulations to Creativity Australia for continuing to find opportunities to increase our well-being through song.” Kellie Stone, Encompass Community Services

 

Our Members

” I have been depressed for some time now and I have been feeling very empty, lonely and lost. Most days I am crying. I had been going to see a Psychologist. The talks we had were good, but I was still going home crying. My son suggested music, as music is good for the soul. He went on to the internet and found the Melbourne choir at the Sofitel.  Tuesday  is choir night and I love looking forward to it. Singing makes me happy. I have met so many nice people in the choir. I am now a happy person once again. I am surrounded by people who love me, The Choir.  And that lovely young conductor Kym, how great is he? The way he has control of his choir, the people in the choir hang on to every word he says,  the way he moves. His actions, the way he jumps around, he sure puts a smile on everyone’s face, what a guy…We greet people at the front desk, we love seeing smiling faces coming towards us. I greet them by saying,  ‘Hi, my name is Sarah’ with a big smile on my face,  no more tears.”  Sarah from With One Voice Melbourne.

“Thank you very much for inviting me to the choir meeting last night. While I have been lucky to  hear the choir sing a number of times and have read a lot about it, being there was so much more! Seeing such a dynamic learning community composed of such a diverse group coming together with such joy and a sense of belonging and led by a such a positive and skilled conductor was a delight.”
Karin Morrison, Education Consultant

“Having the opportunity to do a solo moment with a full choir at the holiday events at Sofitel and Fed Square definitely filled a “bucket list” item for me and was one of the highlights of my year. Certainly a challenge, but an awesome experience, and something I never dreamed I’d end up doing when I made the move to Aussie in 2012.” Ilana Abratt from With One Voice Melbourne

“I would like to acknowledge you for creating a loving accepting singing community where everyone feels empowered to give and to keep moving forward in their lives.” Suzanne

“Ted died only a couple of weeks ago, and Heather was at the funeral. Ted’s wife came up to her, asked her if she was from the choir, and told her that Ted had chosen to be buried in his choir t-shirt. In his last days at Benetas, the choir was a vital way for him to express himself.”
With One Voice Altona Meadows is Creativity Australia’s first choir in a  residential aged care facility (Benetas St Georges), led by the inimitable Kym Dillon

“I know I can’t sing, but that doesn’t matter, I enjoy ‘trying’ and being part of the great people in the choir, it’s a terrific concept bringing people of all nationalities, abilities, ages, and walks of life together. I have never experienced the comradeship before, in any organisation I have been in.” A member of With One Voice Dandenong

“I have only recently started having singing lessons only 3 months ago after many years of telling myself “I’ll get around to it one day”. I’ve always been drawn to music and as a child of kindergarten age, I would spend hours in front of my parents’ old wooden stereo listening to my mother’s records – I taught myself to read by singing along to the songs and following the lyrics on the inner sleeve – showing my age a bit there! 🙂

In recent years I have struggled with depression and I find that my singing lessons are a kind of therapy for me. It’s keeping me connected with other people and giving a sense of achievement at being able to sing songs I love. Thank you for doing what you do.” A member of With One Voice Brisbane

“I forgot to add the complimentary visit will be a thorough two hour consultation.  How good is that, at no cost to me?  Thank you so very much Peter K for your assistance and support within and outside With One Voice Melbourne.  I’m so very thankful and grateful for With One Voice Melbourne and the network of supportive people I have met since I joined in late 2012 words can’t explain and express.” Bianca, With One Voice Melbourne, after having been provided with some free dental services by a fellow choir member

“We had the most wonderful night last night recording our Sing for Spring with three other choirs it was rich in harmonies, beautiful voices, enthusiasm and so uplifting. Joining With One Voice was one of the best decisions I have ever made and thank you to all my new friends I have met for enriching my life with joy and in song, in a world of discord and fear this is reminding all of us about the joy of sharing and caring no matter where you are from, we come together to make the world a better place through song. We will be on YouTube shortly thank you for everyone involved for making this happen!” A member of  With One Voice Brisbane

“This is just to ask you to remove my wish for help to find a car from the wish list, as I’ve now found another car, thank goodness.
Although my wish wasn’t granted by the choir(s), I DID get an offer of a loan of a car by a choir member, and another choir member offered her husband to go out and help search for a used car with me. Isn’t that good? The wish list is such a wonderful initiative. And our choir rocks; it’s just great the way so many go out of their way to help others, often behind the scenes. Thanks for putting the wish out there for me.” Lucie, a member of With One Voice Ashburton

With One Voice is vibrant and well-motivated and with its strong foundations should continue to make good progress. It is a powerful complement to what other musical bodies are doing and fills a vital gap. Its contribution to multicultural harmony is most laudable.” Peter Lim

“It was a remarkable experience to be part of the first rehearsal last night and I enjoyed every minute of it. The music created by a group of strangers was just beautiful. I arrived late, having been at full day meetings for three days since Monday, so this was the perfect way to unwind.” A participant at the first rehearsal of With One Voice Brisbane

“I have sang with the Sydney group for a month, and will be leaving next week to return to our home in the US. It is my hope to sing with the Sydney group when we visit again next year. You have a wonderful organization that provides the joy of music and singing to many.

I believe singing is a way to find beauty in one’s self and others which helps to make the world a better place for all. Liz is a fantastic choral director with loads of talent, expertise, enthusiasm, and she makes each session joyful. Shannon is a very talented musician and is very welcoming to all. I have enjoyed my experience with the Sydney singers and look forward to next year.

I sing with a choir at home, and plan to share my experience with them. Again, thanks to all for allowing me to be part of this great group.” Anita

“You crowd worker, you
Everyone up on their feet
Smiles on their faces
Moving and singing
Even enjoyed it myself

You enrich our lives
By sharing your talent
Thank you”
Graham, about wonderful With One Voice Sydney conductor Elizabeth Lecoanet

“I have been very much enjoying my time with the With One Voice Ashburton choir with Kym and the gang. Kym is a truly gifted and talented musician and leader. We all adore him.” Juli, With One Voice Ashburton

“Bravo! Bravo! I suppose we could all well and rightly indulge ourselves in this mood of jubilation. On the other hand, whilst we certainly should be proud of ourselves, we should not lose sight of the behind-the-scene work that made this soiree a tremendous success. In this regard, tribute must be paid to the one and only SOUL of With One Voice Footscray, our beloved Lady Bridget for whose strenuous efforts With One Voice Footscray has been made to rise from the horizon. No one will dispute that not only is Bridget the facilitator, the music director and conductor of our choir; she is also the caring teacher, the loving mentor and our dearest mate. The efforts, commitment and dedication she invests in our team are monumental.” Raymond, With One Voice Footscray

“Choir on Monday really gives me something to look forward to. I have had some really bad times in the past month and choir really helps me.” A member of With One Voice Deakin

“I recently acquired tinnitus which is a non-stop, high pitched ringing in the ears ( a condition for which there is no cure) and it completely de-railed me, triggering feelings of anxiety, isolation and depression. A friend suggested I join a With One Voice choir and the experience lifted my spirits during a very dark time.

I sang myself into a better place emotionally and swapped the  ‘ringing in my ears’ with ‘singing in my ears’. And I have made new friends with some wonderful people in the process. I recommend With One Voice to everyone, even if you don’t think you can sing, or have been told in the past that you can’t sing! Come along and surprise yourself and sing yourself into a better place within.” Victoria

“The experience was overall thoroughly enjoyable and I never expected in my wildest dreams I’d be part of a packed Melbourne Town Hall performance. […] it was a joy to perform with so many wonderful people in such a venue.” Katie, a With One Voice choir member

“We are extraordinarily pleased with the numbers to date and the success of the Choir. It has worked better than we had anticipated and the benefits to those involved are clear. For staff doing incredibly difficult, taxing and at times quite sad work it has been a wonderful opportunity to do something uplifting and positive with others involved in the service. It has resulted in greater awareness of different parts of our OYH community work and experiences too amongst all the participants including some of our clients.” Orygen Youth Health

“My name is Fiona Ballantyne and I have been a member of the RCH Creativity Australia Choir since its commencement. I have worked at the hospital in fundraising for a couple of years and really love my job, however the choir also provides me with an added incentive to come in to work on a Monday with our practise something to look forward to. As a complete beginner singer I have very much enjoyed the opportunity to learn a new skill. I had no prior musical ability and clearly no talent, I was even reluctant to sing in the shower because of the risk to shattering all the glass around me. However, I love the opportunity to sing in a group and I think this has been a great initiative of the hospital and I recommend it to other organisations.” Fiona Ballantyne, Trusts and Foundations Manager , The Royal Children’s Hospital Foundation

“How they got here and what they’ve been doing here and back in China/Hong Kong. Lots are from the engineering trade and it’s good to find that in common and talk about it at choir.” Anton, Chief Engineer, Sofitel Melbourne on Collins

“I have downloaded the songs and am now practising them in the car… Not bad for someone who thought they couldn’t sing.” Orygen Youth Health

“Love the program, love Shaun, love the songs and love the group singing experience.” Members of With One Voice ANZ

“The choir is the best part of my life in Sydney and I never in a million years thought I would hug a homeless person – and now I have.” Anglique, French member of With One Voice Sydney

“Thank you Tania, for the opportunity to fulfil a dream I have had since I was 11, and was deemed not suitable for the school choir.” Chris, member of With One Voice Geelong

 

People Gain Employment

When I joined the choir I had been looking for a job for 6 years. When I heard about the Wish List program I thought, ‘Perfect! I will be able to get some help to find a job’. At my second rehearsal I asked for help to improve my resume and for employment. A fellow choir member came up to me straight away and volunteered his time to help me improve my resume, and the choir gave me the confidence to persevere in searching for work. Six months later I had found a job in a call centre. Unfortunately the job came to an end eight weeks later. I came to choir the following Tuesday at the Sofitel and announced I had lost my job. I could not stop crying. I was introduced to a lady who had come to choir to see what it was all about. She said she might be able to help me with some voluntary work. When I did call her in early February 2015, she said “Sure, I can help you. And by the way, it isn’t going to be voluntary work; I’m going to pay you.” This is the longest I’ve ever been in a job for. It’s been more than 15 months and I’m loving it!” Annabel, With One Voice Melbourne

“I moved to Melbourne due to personal reasons and was having trouble finding work and also finding social activities. I’ve always loved singing, so when a friend recommended With One Voice Melbourne to me, I was delighted and immediately began attending.

To my surprise, I realised that WOVM had a structure in place to help people with any challenges they may be facing in life – the Wish List program. Through the choir and other channels my social life was quickly blooming, but work eluded me still.

I had worked for six years in a residential aged care facility in Canberra, and I have a degree in science and communications. I had known for some time I wanted to continue working in the aged care sector, but using my communications skill rather than my more practical experience.

Choir had become a core part of my life, both creatively and socially, though I was looking for work elsewhere. Every week or two I would make my wish to find a job in aged care known to the choir. One day, out of the blue, I was informed that someone new was looking for an employee. They had heard about me through the Wish List program. We got into contact and gelled magnificently. I now work for them as a communications assistant in a not-for-profit that advocates for older Australians.

My family often comments how perfect the fit is, and I agree. Thanks, With One Voice!” Stefan, With One Voice Melbourne

“If a choir member is in need of something, they have only to voice their wish at choir and another choir member can grant it. An example of this is that when I joined One Voice Melbourne in February this year, I wished for some help with my CV and a part-time job as an administration assistant. Immediately a fellow choir member offered to have a look at my CV. I have now also found a part-time job.” Annabel, With One Voice Melbourne

“I joined With One Voice Melbourne in October 2012 and attended until after our big performances at the Melbourne Town Hall and also for the corporate dinner at the Sofitel in December. When I first joined MS my wish was to secure a job. This was particularly important to me given that I had just moved over from Tasmania, with all the personal belongings I could fit into my car, and filled with hope and confidence in my skills and experience to get a great job.

During those few months at With One Voice Melbourne I was most impressed by the friendship, support and encouragement of its members in helping me to strive for this goal. However, despite their efforts and mine, (sent out over 300 applications over a five month period) I was not able to get a job. One week ago I was thinking I would have to return to Tasmania, with my tail between my legs but, low and behold, I secured a position as a Training Facilitator with a registered training organisation. I start in mid-April.

I am writing to express my deep gratitude and appreciation to all those people at With One Voice Melbourne who supported and encouraged me. In particular Peter, Liz, and George – my very sincere thanks. It finally paid off… my wish came true! My sincere thanks also to you Tania and the team at Creativity Australia for offering to subsidise my fees for a period so that I could still attend choir and not miss out because of my circumstances. That was a generous gesture for which I am very grateful.

I now hope to be back singing with With One Voice Melbourne later in April and look forward to rejoining all those lovely warm and supportive people.” Neeta, member of With One Voice Melbourne

“I am Hui (Cherry), a With One Voice Melbourne choir member and I was an International Student. I am writing to thank you and the choir for giving me a very good opportunity to get my current job! I was a new graduate with not much working experience in Australia, and pretty worried about how to get my first job here. I applied for so many jobs, without success.

Just when I was wondering and hesitating, I received an email from Creativity Australia telling me there was a job opportunity advertised by a member in choir in their company. I applied for it but did not expect much at first. After two weeks, I got a telephone interview from that company and I passed through. When talking about my interest during the second round interview, the interviewer and I found that we were both choir members! Then we talked a lot and he began to understand the difficulties that an overseas student faced in job hunting, and said he would like to help me and provide me an opportunity to prove myself. So, I got the job!

Currently I am working in their company [Amdocs] and he is my boss – Rajarshi Chakravorty. I have to say it is you and the choir that gives me chances to get to know so many nice people. I sincerely appreciate all your help in the choir, which has not only brought us a happy, harmonious and passionate atmosphere which can relieve us from stressful work and study, but also provided us many good job opportunities that are just so helpful! I really feel honored and lucky to join this choir, thank you very much!’’ Hui (Cherry), member of With One Voice Melbourne

“My name is Thilini Fernando, I am 26 years old, and I came to Australia from Sri Lanka in May this year. I came here to stay with my Uncle, my mother’s brother, and to study childcare. I live with my uncle, his wife and two girl cousins. Ranuka, who is in the choir and also Sri Lankan, told my aunt about the choir, and I was very interested to hear about it because I love to sing. I went along to the choir, and I loved it! The choir is now a big part of my life – they are like family to me, and are always so encouraging and helpful.

I was given the opportunity to sing a solo in the choir, and they helped me believe that I could do it. People in the choir also helped me to get a job. Chris helped me with my application for Holmesglen TAFE where I am studying for a Certificate III in Childcare, and let me know how I could get casual work as a childcare worker through the council. Shaun the conductor also helped by being a referee for me, and I now work there part time. Since joining the choir I have asked my two cousins to come along as well, and they love it as much as me.” Thilini Fernando, With One Voice Greater Dandenong

“Quizon has completed his training program for the Certificate IV in Training and Assessment Qualification. He is already a highly competent teacher with great experiences from his home country, The Philippines, and has demonstrated his strong capabilities during the APCOT course. It is very satisfying to be able to provide him with an Australian qualification that will be highly instructive in helping him to gain teaching/training employment in Australia. All thanks in the end to the great work you are doing with the community choir, I’m so glad we’ve been able to connect!” Gabrielle Hartin, who joined With One Voice Melbourne and decided to offer a scholarship to a migrant to obtain an Australian qualification

“The choir is an escape for me. To open my heart, to be relaxed, happy and forget about all the problems. It’s an open door that you can only see flowers in front and be happy. Enjoy the perfume of the song. The choir really had an important role in my confidence. The diversity in the choir is really huge. Tania, Anton, Shaun… all of them were there for me. And when I got my job interview to prepare they gave me a hand to improve my confidence and to take that step it was really hard for me. I was so nervous, so emotional. I couldn’t believe I would have a job. Then I have the job. I say thanks to BSL, thanks to ANZ who recruited me and most importantly thanks to Tania [de Jong] for her support and all of the members of the choir.” Nathalie, from Cameroon, a member of With One Voice Melbourne

“They stand up for you when you’re in trouble, they can help you.  Or when you need to apply for a job.” Sarah, former Sudanese refugee and member of With One Voice Greater Dandenong

People With A Disability

“We had a few new people including a young man with an intellectual disability who remained quiet for most of the session, however when I started singing the chorus to ‘Running Up That Hill’ by Kate Bush, he broke out in a huge smile and threw his arms in the air. He was mouthing the words and clearly knew it and loved it… it was a lovely moment in the room.” Conductor

“I have been a member of the Ashburton With One Voice choir for a couple of years now. I am a quadriplegic who leads a very busy and varied lifestyle. I go to lots of theatre, opera, musical recitals, lectures, multicultural events, ect. My patronage of theatre, dance, music ect has led me to be selected on panels regarding disability and venues around Melbourne. However despite all of this, my life changed when I found the joy of sharing the singing, laughter and general community involvement of the With One Voice choir. I have tried to promote the choir in my way ever since.” Judithe Beardon

“My name is Dean Anthony Scholte, I was born in Melbourne on 18/2/71. We moved to Geelong area in pre-school. I suffered a mental illness at 15. I went to Queenscliff high, I only left school because of the mental illness. Since my illness I have not joined 1 positive group. I used to play football and scouts. I started working at Encompass as a cleaner, from there I was asked to join the choir, With One Voice Geelong. At first I did not want to join the choir, at first I only said yes to the people that cared about me.

Since I have been in the choir, I have always thoroughly enjoyed it. All the people are good and kind. It has been a couple of years. I was asked to write a short story on myself in the choir, and this is it.

I don’t really know what I get out of choir, but I do wish to study music further. The choir altogether is excellent. It is great, I always look forward to going to choir.” Dean Scholte

—-“I have typed up Dean’s testimony, as he wrote it down by hand. Dean has always been with us and he is a fantastic guy, and I know that his illness is serious. I find his testimony very moving in its honesty, and more so when looking at the handwritten version.” Kym Dillon, With One Voice Geelong Conductor

“Thank you!! For all the wonderful opportunities you have provided for community involvement, sharing, inspiration, self development and the chance to make new friends. What I have gained through being involved with Creativity Australia has been such an incredible support to me. The people I have met have been very friendly and I’ve had a lot of fun and learnt new skills. I am living with a chronic condition and to be able to be involved and participate has really helped me to cope this year.’ Vikki

Peter: “Beth, why do you come to choir?”
Beth: “Freedom, independence and a sense of belonging, because I feel like I don’t belong anywhere else. I do belong here. At choir no one sees my wheelchair. They see me, as a person.” Beth Barnard, member of With One Voice Melbourne

“I hope you have received many congratulations on the lovely evening that was the gala dinner at the Sofitel. We all loved it and I am confident anyone who knows any of us, knows about Melbourne Sings. Thanks for your vision, energy and creativity which, as one of my friends wrote, has given Beth the experience of inclusion, friendship, independence, respect and an opportunity to practise and perform – it is to be celebrated on all levels.” Rhonda Deed, the aunt of Beth, who has cerebral palsy and comes to With One Voice Melbourne

Vancy: “We met in the choir last week and this is our second time meeting. I feel very surprised and pleased that I can make such a good friend in choir. This is the most important reason for me to come.”
Beth: “This choir is extremely important because I’m in a wheelchair. This is why I need friends because I can’t do anything for myself. I can’t feed myself, I can’t do it without friends.”
Vancy, from Guangzhou, and Beth – both members of With One Voice Melbourne

“To me With One Voice Melbourne is a group where we can all sing together and experience the joy of singing in a group.  I love and enjoy coming each and every week to rehearse with With One Voice Melbourne.  The choir for me are a source of strength, encouragement, support in every way, that is emotionally, spiritually, physiologically, cognitively etc.  I have been, have had to and am dealing with issues to do with family and home and a friend from With One Voice Greater Dandenong keeps reminding me to stay strong. I also play songs on my computer or mp3 player: “Lean On Me” and “Keep Smiling, Keep Shining” which for me personally have truly been a source of strength in many and different ways throughout my life.” Bianca Nolan, vision impaired member of With One Voice Melbourne

“I have had a spinal operation and since the operation I felt cut off from the rest of the world. My days were filled with unhappiness, that was until I joined the With One Voice Melbourne choir and was embraced by compassion and love of truly compassionate people, such as yourself. Now, I am happy. I can use my voice, my whole heart to thank all of those people who have helped create this wonderful organisation.” Xiao Rong Nheu, member of With One Voice Melbourne

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