In music therapy literature and popular culture alike, music is often hailed as a universal language. It is appropriate then that music therapy is included within the services offered at a high school catering specifically to non-English-speaking students.
The music therapy program described in this paper encourages students to explore and express their feelings by playing instruments, singing, writing songs, listening to music and talking about song lyrics.
The school is state-run (but federally funded) and provides English language, high school preparation and settlement services to high school aged youth who have recently arrived in Australia from non-English-speaking countries. There are currently 22 nationalities represented amongst the student population, with most students staying no longer than six months before being integrated into mainstream schools with English as a Second Language (ESL) support.
While some of the students’ families are business migrants, some 60% of students have arrived in Australia as refugees. An increasing proportion (currently 41.6%) originated from The Republic of the Sudan in northern Africa.