Drum Atweme, Australia

'Atweme’ means to hit the drum. What began as a Friday program to incentivize at-risk Aboriginal girls to attend school daily throughout the week quickly turned into something bigger. The focus of this program, which began in the early ‘90s, is to create a positive influence and healthy atmosphere through the use of traditional music. When the group began, the girls loved it. They wanted to drum. And so began Drum Atweme, which operates with only one rule: to be part of the program, the girls must remain in school.

Empowerment through Music

The Aboriginal girls who comprise Drum Atweme fund the program through performances. They are also active in the decision-making of the group regarding performances, creativity and the budget, which has given the girls the biggest gift of all — a stronger sense of self-worth and self-esteem.

The Program’s Director, Peter Lowson, speaks out:

“Over the years since the program began, 80 kids have played with the group. Sixty-four are still in school and many of the older teenagers have left to pursue more education in Darwin and Adelaide. These were the kids who the teachers couldn’t get to school, and they couldn’t read or write… within a month of starting to drum, the attendance at the school was increasing… The drumming is one thing, but it’s what comes out of the drumming that makes all the difference.”