Australian youth music organisation The Push with support from Youth Affairs Council Victoria (YACVic) is calling on the Victorian Government to #EvolveFReeZA for the next generation of young music makers, audiences and creative industry professionals.

Since 1996 the Victorian Government’s FReeZA program has played an essential role in making Melbourne the live music capital of Australia, with more than 2 million young people having their first live music experience through the program.

As a youth development program, FReeZA provides young Victorians aged 12 – 25 from all socio-economic, cultural backgrounds and abilities in metropolitan, regional and rural Victoria opportunities to stage and attend live music events that are drug, alcohol and smoke-free in supervised and safe venues.

However, the program has not had an increase in funding for more than a decade, not even in line with consumer price index (CPI) and despite increasing event operations costs, which has impacted the program’s reach and depth.

To respond to this, The Push and YACVic are urging the Victorian Government increase its investment in the program to $5.6m annually over the next four years, and to evolve the program to reflect changes in technology and youth culture.

With this level of investment, reflective of current event and program costs, FReeZA will be able to build on its annual reach and impact to include:

  • More opportunities for young audiences to access fully supervised, all-ages live music events
  • Increased paid employment and engagement of music industry practitioners as event contractors and program mentors
  • Increased live performance opportunities for both young emerging artists and established touring artists
  • Greater scope for youth workers to be resourced appropriately to support young people in their local communities
  • Opportunities for young people to be employed as peer workers across the program
  • Build online capacity across the program, reflective of the ways young people are creating and consuming contemporary music

Young people, particularly in the creative industries, have been disproportionately impacted by COVID-19. They are faced with complete uncertainty around their financial security, employment, training and education.

Kate Duncan CEO of The Push said, “With the devastating impact of COVID-19 on young people and the contemporary music sector, the Victorian Government must act now and evolve FReeZA to ensure our creative state’s vibrant ecosystem exists and can be accessed by the next generation of young music makers, audiences and industry professionals”

“With the work currently being undertaken by the Victorian Government through the new Creative State Strategy and Youth Strategy, we believe that now is the time to evolve FReeZA and ensure a future program model can remain relevant and sustainable.”

Katherine Ellis, CEO of YACVic added, “Many communities rely on programs like FReeZA to empower young people to design, lead and participate in events, entertainment and music in their local community. The COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated how important community connection, creative expression and gaining industry skills are for young people.”

“Young people in the creative industries have been disproportionately impacted by COVID-19, so we must ensure in our ongoing recovery to a COVID Normal world that young people have adequate pathways and up-to-date programs to enter the arts, music and creative industries.”

To ensure this call is heard, The Push and YACVic are encouraging past and present FReeZA participants, parents, friends and community workers to come forward and support this campaign.

Kate Duncan concluded, “By simply sharing your story, adding your signature or amplifying our message across social media, you can help us demonstrate the long-term, real life impacts of the FReeZA program.”

“We hear daily from hundreds of people who started their career pathway or had their first live music experience through the FReeZA program. These are the stories we want to share.”

To find out more and how you can support the campaign to Evolve FReeZA, visit: thepush.com.au/evolvefreeza.

 

ABOUT THE PUSH

The Push is an Australian youth music organisation and registered charity based in Melbourne. At the forefront of emerging trends, The Push delivers a range of programs that are responsive to Australia’s future music industry leaders, artists and audiences. For over three decades, our organisation has engaged more than 700,000 young people. Our program alumni include Courtney Barnett, Alex Lahey, Alice Ivy and Angie McMahon — who have each progressed onto successful, global careers. For more information, visit: thepush.com.au.

ABOUT YOUTH AFFAIRS COUNCIL VICTORIA (YACVic)

Youth Affairs Council Victoria (YACVic) is the peak body and leading advocate for young people aged 12–25 and youth workers in Victoria. Our vision is that young people are active, visible and valued in their communities. For more information, visit: yacvic.org.au.