Past Projects

Explore 30 years

Since 1992, Big hART’s layered projects have provided innovative solutions to complex disadvantage in over 56 communities nationwide.

Songs For Freedom

Songs for Freedom is an uplifting concert of original songs created by Ngarluma and Yindjibarndi artists in the Pilbara town of Roebourne WA. Alongside the concert is a campaign to highlight the high incarceration rates of Aboriginal children in Australian prisons. The concert and campaign will tour nationally in 2023.

Since 2010, supported by Elders, the project has delivered workshops in the community, the school and the prison, creating digital content, music, theatre and performance to change the negative stories told about Roebourne. Songs for Freedom has its foundations in workshops involving the family of John Pat, who died in custody in 1983 and triggered the Royal Commission into deaths in custody.
• Aboriginal children are 24 times more likely than non-Aboriginal children to end up in jail.
• Of the six hundred 10-13 year olds in jail in 2018-19, 65% were Aboriginal.
• Aboriginal children spend on average 71 days in prison compared to 50 days for non-Aboriginal children.
• Evidence doesn’t support the idea that Aboriginal children commit more crimes, rather it highlights systemic issues such as over-policing.

Songs for Freedom is a moving and optimistic, family friendly, free concert, raising awareness of this urgent issue. Alongside the concert, Big hART is working with State and Federal Attorney Generals to change the systemic issues which lead to the damaging incarceration of young people like John Pat.

Songs for Freedom will work hand-in-hand with the community of Roebourne, to deliver a positive message to the country as a legacy to John Pat’s family by the 40th anniversary of his passing on September 28th 2023.




Hobart – MONA FOMA – Thursday 23 February, 2023
Perth – Dyoondalup Point Walter  – Sunday 5 March. 2023
Darwin – Darwin Entertainment centre – Friday 23 June, 2023
Sydney – Barangaroo Reserve – Saturday 2 September, 2023
Canberra –  Llewellyn Hall (ANU) – Saturday 9 September
Melbourne – Melbourne Recital centre – Friday 15 September, 2023
Roebourne – Ngurin Cultural Centre Saturday 23 September, 2023

Keep up to date by joining the Facebook events – HERE

Big hART has partnered with the Justice Reform Initiative to call for urgent change to halve the number of young Aboriginal people in jail.




Turning Art Practice into Academic Evidence


On the 40th Anniversary of John Pat’s passing in custody in 1983, which triggered the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody we are so proud to present these papers to the people of Roebourne and the wider community as evidence of the important work being done in Roebourne.

Big hART has worked with the Pat family in Ieramugadu (Roebourne) for ten years. To fulfil a promise Big hART made to Mrs Pat (John’s mother), we have released two discussion papers that describe a better way forward.

The two papers sit side-by-side and highlight the thought leadership stemming from this collaboration in Roebourne:

INYAART! BINKA!* A position paper on effective diversion and prevention approaches – protecting Aboriginal young people from Australia’s youth justice system
*‘Inyaart’ and ‘Binka’ mean gift, trade or exchange. Inyaart is Yindjibarndi and Binka is Ngarluma. John was Yindjibarndi, and lived on Ngarluma country.

CREATIVE PATHWAYS FOR JUVENILE JUSTICE: The power of music in youth justice settings




Creative Credits
With thanks to the Pat family
Ngarluma and Yindjibarndi Elders – Allery Sandy and Jeanie Churnside

The Freedom Collective:
Lucky Oceans
David Hyams
Fred Ryan
John Bennett
Jay Jarome
Kankawa Nagarra
Kate Pass
Kendall Smith
Kimberley Wilson
Naomi Pigram
Patrick Churnside
Rose Pat
Tehya Makani
Tyson Mowarin
Talya Valenti
Wendy Darby

With Special guest appearances by:
Kutcha Edwards
Brian Ritchie
Dewayne Everett Smith
Vikki Thorn
Stephen Pigram
Shellie Morris

Creative Team
Scott Rankin – Creative Director
Lucky Oceans – Musical Director
David Hyams – Associate Musical Director
Jordan East – Video Design
Stephen Hawker – Lighting Design

Songs For Freedom

2023 National Tour 

Make – A series of large-scale concert events around Australia accompanied by a new album of music from the Pilbara, a documentary, and a compelling campaign for change.

Build – Pride in, and awareness of the beauty, creativity, and strength of Ieramugadu (Roebourne), and a national community of people providing their support for change.

Drive – healing in the Ieramugadu (Roebourne) Community and changes in policy and programs that keep our young people safe, to halve the number of incarceration rates of young Aboriginal people.

Furth information HERE

Samurai Digger

Samurai Digger is being researched and created in sister cities – Nara, Japan and Canberra, Australia.

Through creative developments and interviews with WW2 diggers, Japanese soldiers, keepers of the Samurai sword making tradition and charitable organisations in both countries.

The performance piece is a two-hander, in two languages. The hybrid performance begins with rituals inspired by tea-ceremonies, forging samurai swords, and worship. It moves towards conflict and then tells the poetic story of the return of Samurai swords after WW2 by catholic priest Tony Glynn after WW2 and work to protect the poor and the love children of Australian soldiers.

Samurai Digger combines two iconic traditions and weaves them together in a evocation of the importance of peacemaking in the contemporary world.


SKATE is a ground-breaking new work in development fusing the art of skateboarding with percussion and projection.

A breathtaking sensory experience for all the family, SKATE sees a cast of talented male and female skateboarders perform jaw-dropping feats and create infectious rhythms with their skateboards.
In 2019, SKATE was in residence at the Cutaway at Barangaroo, which saw over 1600 skateboarders from across Sydney engage with the project and over 5000 people activate the space.

SKATE – the Show
A highly commercial touring performance piece, SKATE is pure performance spectacle combining skateboarding, percussion, movement and projection as never seen before. Be transported as skateboarders roll out intricate beats and paint the stage with light using state-of-the-art technology. Expressions of interest welcome from venues and festivals.

SKATE Halfpipe
SKATE Halfpipe is a new interdisciplinary touring work, designed to go anywhere, unfolding out of a shipping container to become a spectacular performance work meeting young people where they are. SKATE Halfpipe is a platform to reach out to young people in the mental health space, through co-creation, participation and performance. SKATE Halfpipe will tour to NW Tasmania in 2020.

SKATE – Social Impact Investment
SKATE Project is a social impact investment opportunity which backs young people to build a better world. With a young cast of 18-30 year olds, SKATE sees all profits from the show going to support disadvantage.
Big hART invites forward thinking early adopters to invest and support this innovative impact investment opportunity.

Project O

Project O backs young rural women to help prevent family violence and drive generational change.

Project O has been successfully piloted in a federally designated ‘family violence hotspot’ of the North West coast of Tasmania and subsequently rolled out in Cooma NSW, with Roebourne WA and Canberra, ACT in development.

Project O’s primary prevention approach engages young women, increases their sense of agency, and skills them up to deliver events in their own communities that change attitudes and de-normalise violence. Success has been immediate, is evidence based, and has led to awards such as the Human Rights Organisations Award (2016).

Project O consists of three integrated layers: 

Workshops + Partnerships

Project O builds partnerships across the community – from the women’s shelter, to the high school, to the footy club – leading to strong involvement in events put on by the young women.

Agency + Capability workshops are delivered, where the young women learn skills in a range of areas, such as: public speaking, event management, hospitality, media, self-confidence and advocacy, in preparation for running a series of events in the community around issues that concern them.


Colourathon is a public art-marathon harnessing the global trend of mindfulness and colouring in. Young women are sponsored to colour in for up to 24 hours – each hour they raise money to assist young children in their local womens’ shelter, with a specialist therapy program. Local media, politicians, community partners and volunteers join the event, colouring in solidarity with the young women. The drawings are then animated and set to a song by a well-known songwriter, created during workshops with the young women.

The Colourathon is designed to generate a positive media campaign run by the young women, helping to drive a community-wide response to family violence – and promote generational change.

Currently in development is ‘Colourathon for Corporates’ – a kit version of the Colourathon assisting businesses to join in a corporate response to family violence, and support the leadership of young rural women.

O Play

O Play builds on the positive action taken by young women in their community, by creating a one-woman theatre piece, reimagining the story of Ophelia from Shakespeare’s Hamlet. O is written to be performed by an iconic older woman – an actor at the height of her powers – delivering a tour de force performance nationally and internationally. Locally devised versions created in workshop model the value and wisdom of older women to the young Project O participants, as well as feeding into an ongoing positive media campaign.

Project O is designed to build from the grassroots into a national campaign driven by young women – rolling out in communities across the country, changing attitudes to family violence and driving generational change.


Namatjira Project began as a collaboration with members of the Namatjira family and the Hermannsburg community in Central Australia in 2009.

Albert Namatjira is one of the most revered names in Australian art history. His artworks gave many Australians their first glimpses into the heart of the country. The Namatjira family are holders of this celebrated heritage, and yet today face many challenges.

The long term project has centered around an award-winning theatre performance, Namatjira, seen by 50,000 people, telling the story of Albert Namatjira, with his family on stage.

Alongside the theatre production, the project has featured: a sell-out exhibition of watercolours in London, an exhibition of 5 Generations of Namatjira – descendant’s art in Parliament House Canberra, audiences with Queen Elizabeth, Prince Phillip and Prince Charles, public painting masterclasses, public talks, extensive media stories, community development workshops, a watercolour app, a soundtrack CD, intergenerational knowledge sharing, and work in the school at Hermannsburg.

Currently in its legacy phase, Namatjira Project now drives its two key outcomes: the Namatjira Legacy Trust, and the feature length documentary Namatjira Project.

Namatjira Trust

The Namatjira Legacy Trust works to secure positive futures for this iconic community and family. The watercolour movement is their strongest asset – internationally recognised, and an avenue to generate income at the same time as connecting to country, heritage and culture. The Trust resources activities to support this watercolour movement and community – to assist livelihoods and wellbeing to thrive.

Feature Documentary

Namatjira Project is the iconic story of the Namatjira family, tracing their quest to regain the copyright to their grandfather’s artwork. From the remote Australian desert to the opulence of Buckingham Palace – this film illuminates the powerful story of Albert Namatjira’s life, and the future of the Central Desert watercolour movement that he pioneered.


Blue Angel

Blue Angel is an innovative international collaboration between artists and the maritime industry, delving into the mysteries and superstitions of the ocean, and capturing the urgent issue of slavery at sea.


Blue Angel performances can take multiple forms. A large site-specific theatre work staged across small temporary spaces on or near the docks of a port city, or as a smaller concert version in more traditional venues, combined with exhibitions and multi-media.

Blue Angel combines stories and images from contemporary seafaring – slavery, piracy, danger and death, as well as the lives of lovers and those left at home. The world’s history is a maritime history, and Blue Angel calls on the ancient world, the oceans in conflict, the family stories and those ships that pass in the night.

Fair Shipping

90% of everything we buy comes to us on a ship. Seafaring is 17 times more dangerous than mining and thousands of seafarers are lost every year, through storms, shipwrecks, accidents and disaster. There are about 1.3 million seafarers working the liquid highways of the oceans everyday – about 700,000 of them working essentially as slaves. The general public knows nothing of this, as we push our shopping trollies around supermarkets and hardware stores.

Blue Angel’s Fair Shipping campaign is designed to support those who are lobbying for change, by bringing this to public attention through story, media, music, forums and word of mouth

Namatjira Project

2009 – 2016, Alice Springs, Hermannsburg NT and nationwide

Make – a theatre production, sell-out exhibitions of watercolours including London and Parliament House Canberra, audiences with Queen Elizabeth, Prince Phillip and Prince Charles, painting masterclasses, public talks, media stories, community development workshops, a watercolour app, a soundtrack CD, and work in the Hermannsburg School.

Build + Drive – intergenerational knowledge sharing, justice for the Namatjira family, capacity for Western Aranda communities and change regarding the chronic under funding of Aboriginal art centres.

The Legacy project is ongoing. See Namatjira Documentary / Trust

Yijala Yala

2011 – 2015, Roebourne, WA

Make – A range of content was created with the Roebourne community across genres such as video, performance, games, interactive comics, and concert. These included highly awarded and well reviewed works such as Hipbone Sticking Out, Neomad, Murru, and Smashed Films.

Build + Drive – To builds skills and opportunities for Roebourne that reshape its story, build futures for its young people, and value its cultural heritage.

The Legacy project is ongoing. See New Roebourne

Blue Angel

2013 – 2015, Hobart TAS, Sydney NSW, Melbourne VIC, Adelaide SA, Rotterdam NDL

Make – A site-specific performance work, created for Tasmania’s Ten Days on the Island Festival, staged in 9 venues. Involving international artists such as Peter Greenaway, along with Mikelangelo (The Black Sea Gentlemen), Kerry Armstrong, Nate Gilkes and many others.

Build +Drive – There are 1.3 million seafarers working on the oceans, around 700,000 are essentially invisible slaves. Blue Angel Project comprised many different strategies to help highlight the hidden story of contemporary slavery at sea.

The Legacy project is ongoing. See Blue Angel International

Project Cosmopolitana

2013 – 2015, Cooma, Monaro NSW

Make – An album of songs by The Black Sea Gentlemen capturing the stories of the Snowy Mountain Scheme and the alpine region. A theatre performance Ghosts in the Scheme was based on stories by the elderly residents, many of whom arrived in Cooma displaced from Europe after WW2 – to build the Snowy Mountains Scheme.

Build + Drive – At a time of national debate regarding refugee policy, this project set out to tell the hidden stories of success that made this country when our doors and borders were open wider.

To a Different Drum

2014, Wynyard TAS

Make – A whole-of-school engagement in creativity (pilot project). TADD was a large scale production based on movement and percussion, which involved bringing a professional creative and technical team to work in one of the poorest schools, in the poorest electorate in the country.

Build + Drive – Creativity at the centre of engagement in education.

Invisible Stories

2014, North West TAS

Make – Short films created with people who are isolated from the mainstream community due to disabilty.

Build + Drive – Invisible stories piloted the use of narrative as a protective mechanism in the community. By mentoring young people to tell these stories it increased understanding and empathy in the community for the most vulnerable.

Museum of the Long Weekend

2012 – 2013, Canberra, ACT and nationwide

Make – A national project created for the Centenary of Canberra. Vintage caravans from across the country converged on Canberra in multiple convoys over a week, stopping and camping, cooking and talking together en route. On arrival they created a pop up museum on the shores of Lake Burley Griffin, celebrating the importance of leisure to the national wellbeing.

Build + Drive – artists were paired with caravan owners to bring aspects of their leisure memories to the fore as an installation in their vintage van. They owners then hosted the public in their exhibition, telling their story.

Winter Bed Vigil

2013, Canberra ACT

Make – An outdoor bed installation where members of the public sleep and watch films made with homeless people in Canberra.

Build + Drive – Awareness and change regarding the issue of homelessness in Canberra’s winter. Created in partnership with community groups effected by bushfires in the Canberra region.

Ngapartji Ngapartji

2005 – 2010, Alice Springs NT, Ernabella, SA, National Festival Tour, Rotterdam

Make –  A layered, 5 year project involving an award winning theatre piece, a national tour, performances in London and Garma festival, an online language and culture teaching site, community workshops and a documentary.

Build + Drive – The project pushed for a National Indigenous Language Policy and recognition for Indigenous victims of the Maralinga atomic testing.

We Vote Soon

2011, Wynyard TAS

Make – An online live broadcast by young people, who are close to voting age, putting their concerns to politicians, created with professionals in a high school.

Build + Drive – Encouraging young people to value and engage with democracy, and politicians to engage with the next generation of voters.

Nyuntu Ngali

2009 – 2010, Mimili, Ernabella SA, Alice Springs, NT

Make – Cross-cultural theatre work for young people set in a post-apocalyptic world. Co-production with Windmill National Children’s Theatre, and presented by Sydney Theatre Company.

Build + Drive – Encouraging inter-cultural dialogue between young people. Increasing visibility and opportunities for Pitjantjatjara performers, and extending community legacies from Ngapartji Ngapartji.

Two Strong Hearts

2010, Wynyard TAS

Make –A whole of school engagement project, providing the opportunity for disadvantaged rural young people to explore potential careers and involvement in the creative industries. A large scale performance piece for a cast of 80. In a town with a population of 5000, 2300 attended.

Build + Drive – With lower than average school retention rates, this project piloted new approaches to engagement in education, with a focus on the creative industries.


2007 – 2009, North West TAS

An award-winning documentary about autocide and risk-taking by rural young men. Drive also produced teacher’s notes and web episodes and screened in festivals internationally.

View the DRIVE documentary here


2006 – 2009, VIC, NSW, QLD

A series of workshops, videos and installations looking at drought, water and depression in the Murray Darling Basin. GOLD worked with urban young people and brought them together with farming families, concluding with a photographic installation at Carriageworks in Sydney.

To see some video content from the GOLD Project, go here

Drive in Holiday + Radio Holiday

2005 – 2009, North West TAS, Melbourne VIC

These 2 large projects combined caravans with media – radio and video, to tell the hidden story of Tasmania’s fragile shack communities. The team of story-collectors and performers were made up of single teenage mothers. It was presented as part of Tasmania’s Ten Days on the Island Festival, toured statewide twice, and travelled to Federation Square as part of Melbourne International Arts Festival.


2005 – 2009, North West TAS

An extended project working with at-risk young mothers and their children through a suite of strategies that created new pathways and networks for participants, engaging them in the community.

Junk Theory

2007 – 2009, Cronulla NSW, Hobart TAS, Adelaide SA

A floating video and sound installation on a Chinese junk in Sydney Harbour, created with young people from the Sutherland Shire in response to the Cronulla riots, and promoting community inclusion. Presented as part of Sydney Festival, Adelaide Festival and Tasmania’s Ten Days on the Island Festival.

This is Living

2007 – 2009, Statewide TAS

A project to value the elderly, This is Living combined older people in the community with skateboarders, with workshops running simultaneously in 5 towns across Tasmania. Toured for the Tasmanian Ten Days on the Island Festival.

Love Zombies

2008 – Wynyard, TAS

A creative industries collaboration with Wynyard High School, piloting whole of school approaches to Arts in Education. The approach gained the eye of evaluators and educationalists. In a town of 5000, 2000 attended.

Northcott Project

2004 – 2006, Sydney, NSW

A public housing, community development and violence prevention project in a notorious housing commission estate in Surry Hills, Sydney. This partnership with Housing Dept. and the Police resulted in a large site specific, hybrid theatre work for the 2006 Sydney Festival, short films and two award winning documentaries.

You can watch the documentary 900 Neighbours here.

Chambers Crescent Theatre

2006, Darwin NT

A legacy project following on from Nuff Stuff in Darwin, supporting an intercultural theatre program for young people.

Street Survivor Melbourne

2001 – 2004, Melbourne, VIC

An innovative gaming platform, exploring reasons why young people flee their homes.


2001 – 2004, NSW, VIC, WA, TAS

A complex, long-term project examining different concepts of being without a home, from refugees to street kids. Resulted in a festival performance piece, an 8 part SBS documentary series, a website and teachers notes. Presented at the Sydney Opera House,  and as part of Melbourne International Arts Festival.

To see some video content from the kNot@Home Project, go here

Sleep Well

2003 – 2004, Bourke NSW

A project working with young Indigenous mothers – helping to provide support, build connections and new pathways.

The Bed Vigil

2002, Melbourne VIC

Linked to kNot@Home, The Bed Vigil invited high profile people and the general public to register with the project and sleep in a bed on the streets, to help raise awareness of rough sleepers. The Bed Vigil opened Federation Square as part of Melbourne International Arts Festival, with people sleeping and watching short films made with people at risk of homelessness, 24 hours a day.


2002 – 2004 Sutherland Shire, NSW

A partnership with Hazelhurst Regional Gallery in the Sutherland Shire, working with young people and artists, creating installations, short films and artworks.

Nuff Stuff

2001 – 2005, Darwin NT

A theatre performance created in the notorious Don Dale Juvenile Justice Centre. In a breakthrough moment, inmates were allowed to perform in the Darwin Entertainment Centre, and the general public were welcomed into the prison to watch the performance.

Handle With Care

2002 – 2004, Northern NSW

Part of the NSW Drug Misuse Prevention Strategy, it involved a wide variety of workshops, engagement strategies and events with young people.

Stepping Stones

2003 – 2004, Bourke NSW

A project working with NSW Health, delivering health and social participation outcomes for young mothers.

24hr Shift

2001 – 2003, West Coast TAS

A series of arts based workshops with isolated young people, resulting in public recognition of the issues they faced.

Wrong Way Go Back

2000, Darwin NT

A workshop program with young offenders in Don Dale Detention Centre, resulting in the performance of Nuff Stuff at the Darwin Entertainment Centre.

Heaps of Rocks

2000, West Coast TAS

A performative video installation created with isolated young people at risk.

Happy Water Sad Water

1999 – 2000, Manly Beach NSW

A performance installation working with Sydney’s Chinese community, in partnership with Manly Gallery, exploring xenophobia and drowning. The performance toured to Adelaide Festival as part of ‘Big hART Works’.


1998 – 1999, NSW, VIC, TAS 

An AFI award winning fictionalised documentary. This unique film, worked across vast geographies with young people to tell stories of hurt, showing in film festivals internationally.

SLR 5000

1998, West Coast TAS

A performance piece created in workshops with isolated young people exploring the issue of family violence.

Scissors, Paper, Rock, Cereal

1997, Illawarra NSW 

A theatre performance at Theatre South in Wollongong, from a workshop process with young people who had witnessed extreme violence.

Guns to Pens Project

1996 – 1997 Wagga Wagga NSW, Canberra ACT

Working in juvenile justice centres, young offenders learned to turn the wooden rifle butts into pens, live on stage, as part of a performance piece.

Inkwings, Three Men Walk into a Bar

1994 – 1997, Burnie TAS

A performance piece created with single teenage mothers exploring the issue of family violence. Inkwings workshops also taught young mothers good early childhood play approaches.

Pandora Slams the Lid

1993-1994, North West TAS

Workshops and a touring theatre work for young people exploring HIV and intravenous drug use.


1992-1994, North West TAS, Canberra ACT

A workshop program with young offenders to create a large theatre performance, exploring the inner turmoils and issue that lead too offending behaviour. Performed at the National Festival of Australian Theatre, Canberra.

For more information on past projects

Contact: Sam Hawker | National Operations Manager| sam@bighart.org