TUNING IN: Kids from the Ngulangah education program recording an election rap for Triple J with MC Dingo (aka Mark Robertson).
TUNING IN: Kids from the Ngulangah education program recording an election rap for Triple J with MC Dingo (aka Mark Robertson). Andy Parks

Indigenous kids to make Triple J debut with political rap

THEY are (mostly) too young to vote and say they don't know much about politics.

But a group of Aboriginal kids who for various reasons aren't fitting into the traditional school system, have created a rap song about Kevin Rudd and Tony Abbott that will be played on the national youth network, Triple J.

It is a highly insightful expression on how they feel alienated from politics and a snapshot of the issues that matter to them. It touches on Aboriginal health and suicide, asylum seeker policy and the perceived hypocrisy of the major parties, among other things.

The kids are part of the Ngulingah Southern Cross Distance Education program run by Rob Roberts.

By creating a program that incorporates things like street art, surfing, mixed martial arts and music, Rob has been able to achieve an attendance rate of 85-95%. Prior to getting involved with the program some kids had a school attendance rate of less than 5%, or had been excluded from school altogether.

Rob said the program has been so successful that more kids are asking to be involved.

"It's about having achievable goals. Some of these kids you couldn't get to sit still and listen before, but now they are engaged and want to learn," he said.

"Where not just getting kids off the street, they are getting themselves of the street! Because they want to be here they are not constantly defiant," he said.

The program runs in Lismore two days a week and Rob starts each shift by picking kids up from their homes.

"The parents are getting on board and making sure that they're ready. It's about consistency," he said.

The chance to record a song for Triple J's current affairs program 'Hack' came via a request from John McVeigh, a teacher with Southern Cross Distance Education whose daughter is working at Triple J.

The recording is being done by Mark Robertson (aka MC Dingo) who has been running music programs in Aboriginal communities across Australia and who is now working closely with Rob.

He said they were given just one day to workshop ideas and write some lyrics and another day to record the song called Raising Our Voices.

One of the writers / rappers is 18 year-old Jack Tinning who said they started with some rhymes (Abbott and Rabbit is a recurring motif) and then watched some of the major parties TV ads.

One of the things they picked up on was Tony Abbott's stance on people arriving by boat not being settled in Australia, yet Mr Abbott arrived in Australia by boat as an immigrant from England in 1961.

"I think it's honest, but not derogatory," Jack said of the song.



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