Family & domestic violence have reached epidemic proportions in Australia, impacting all communities. We spoke to Luke Edwards, who is a social worker and songwriter/producer who assisted with the song ‘Break Those Chains Sista’, which was written and developed by a group of indigenous domestic violence survivors. The song will be featured at the upcoming 2nd Annual National Family & Domestic Violence Summit.
Can you tell me a bit about the group?
I am a social worker and songwriter/producer of mixed heritage, and have worked alongside the indigenous women involved in Break Those Chains Sista for over five years. Nicole Ryan is a community worker, a long time campaigner against domestic violence and a survivor of domestic violence and Oletha Ware is a domestic violence support worker and singer and of Torres Strait Islander Heritage.
How did the band come together?
The group came together through friendship and support at an indigenous playgroup called the “Multi Mix Mob”. I was introduced to the group as a social worker in 2010, and chose to engage with them by offering to teach them to play guitar and create music for themselves and their families. We formed a bond through music that continues to this day.
Can you tell me about the song?
The “Break Those Chains Sista” project and song was written and developed by a group of indigenous domestic violence survivors. The lyrics were developed through a number of workshops were women shared their experiences of domestic violence with the purpose of creating a moving and inspirational song that can help women to speak out and seek support. Nicole Ryan has talked about the power of these workshops and how they helped the women in the group to open up and talk safely about their experiences, and they hope that the song, when complete, will help other women to open up and talk as well.
Can you tell me about the inspiration behind it?
The women in the group have all been affected by domestic violence of some form. After the success of co-writing with me for the song “Love, Yarn, Sing, Read, Play” (a song about raising kids in indigenous families, commissioned by the NSW Government) the women in the group urged me to help them write a song about domestic violence, a subject close to their hearts, with the wish to inspire and connect with other women who need help.
The group has spoken in the past about supporting families and speaking out against domestic violence. Would you be able to speak on your own experiences and the impact domestic violence has on the community?
The spokeswomen of the group, Nicole Ryan has shared her moving and inspirational story on a number of occasions at conferences around Australia, and would be happy to talk about her experiences where it can help inspire other women to speak out and take positive steps to create a better life for families.
Are there any presentations at the National Family & Domestic Violence Summit that you would like to see and why?
The group is particularly interested in hearing the afternoon session on Day 1, as we are particularly interested in prevention strategies as well as local grass roots innovative work like the Gunbalnya Safe House Project.
“Break Those Chains Sista” will be performed at the 2nd Annual National Family & Domestic Violence Summit. For more information, including the current agenda, please head to our website.