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Media Release: Asylum seeker choir celebrates a year of song 

5 February 20150 comments

The Voices Without Borders asylum seeker choir this week celebrates its first birthday after a year of song, friendship and joy.

Choirmaster and founder of the Choir of Hard Knocks Dr Jonathon Welch will lead the choir in a celebratory song session at Melbourne’s Drill Hall on Friday February 6.

The Voices Without Borders initiative, collaboration between Dr Welch and settlement agency AMES, has brought asylum seekers from across Melbourne together to enjoy song and social activities.

The choir has taken part in various events during the year; staging a major performance during Refugee Week (15 – 21 June).

Dr Welch said he has been delighted to be part of the project aimed at giving asylum seekers a positive social and cultural experience.

“The choir is giving asylum seekers a chance to experience something different, engage with the broader community and simply experience the joy of singing,” Dr Welch said.

“Our singers are just fantastic and it is rewarding to see their faces light up when the singing starts,” he said.

AMES CEO Cath Scarth said the choir was a good opportunity for asylum seekers to engage with the broader community and have some fun.

“The project is part of AMES’ Meaningful Engagement Program, which seeks to address some of the emotional and social issues our asylum seeker clients face. These can include living with uncertainty, the inability to communicate, living in tight financial circumstances and living at risk of mental health problems,” she said.

“Through this program our volunteers and stakeholders help our clients engage in a range of activities including creative arts, sport and fitness and cooking. The program gives clients valued roles in their community and a sense of purpose as they build their skills to potentially settle in Australia.”

AMES provides humanitarian, settlement, employment and education services to migrants, refugees and asylum seekers.

Celebration: 10.00am – 12.30pm, February 6, The Drill Hall, 26 Therry St, Melbourne. 

Watch the short documentary below on the Choir’s journey.

For images, interviews and more information please contact AMES Media Advisor, Laurie Nowell at or  9938 4031 or 0498 196 500.