Speak Your Truth: ‘finding freedom’ through writing

Last month, our CMY Ballarat team ran a free rap poetry workshop in collaboration with Ballarat Youth Services as part of Refugee Week 2023. 

Speak Your Truth, held on the 23rd of June at Barkly Square, was an opportunity for young people to get together and learn more about the lived experience of people from refugee backgrounds. Open to young people of all backgrounds, the workshop explored the techniques involved in creating your own empowering rap, spoken word and poetry.  

Local rapper Roopan, professionally known as RARO, led the workshop, covering the basic structure of rap verse and spoken word verse. He shared a few techniques that he personally employs and assisted the 16 young people in attendance to reflect on the theme for Refugee Week 2023, Finding Freedom, through their writing. 

“I found the workshop super fulfilling,” said Roopan. “It was inspiring to work with talented writers and interested young people and relate to their experiences with writing and sharing. I really learnt a lot from being a part of this event and I’m grateful for the opportunity.” 

In addition to the workshop part of the event, Speak Your Truth also featured Abdul, an Afghan refugee who came to Australia seeking asylum as a teenager fleeing the Taliban, who shared his lived experience. 

Senior Multicultural Youth Worker at CMY in Ballarat, Briana Morrison, said that in keeping with the theme of the event, it’s important for young people to hear these kinds of stories. 

“Earlier on in the year, we asked our Youth Advisory Group what they would like to do or see more of, and music themes kept coming up,” she said. “Seeing how young people hung onto every word of our guest speakers’ story, how they all participated enthusiastically in the workshop, and how they interacted with each other was just gold.” 

The workshop was co-facilitated by CMY volunteers Aditi and Thu, who did an excellent job at sparking engagement and enthusiasm within the group. 

“Overall, the event turned out great,” Thu said. “Everyone who attended engaged in all of our activities and it seemed as though everybody got a lot out of the workshop.” 

Watch this space for more activities and opportunities in the Ballarat region.