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Lithgow Music and Health Pilot Project


In partnership with Westfund Health – ‘Health Rocks’ and ‘Dying Well’

Commencing in June 2015, our Lithgow Music and Health Pilot project will continue in 2016 with our nine-month music in health residency, working with young women at risk, and terminally and chronically ill patients.  Delivered collaboratively with Westfund Health, the project represents the first of its kind with a community owned private health insurance company investing in an arts based initiative that improves the health of its members and also the broader Lithgow community. The pilot included a 3-month community consultation and it is now in its delivery phase. The program has three components.

‘Health Rocks’ – A collaborative songwriting and song-producing project with young women at risk, (aged 12-26).  We are linking in with the local high school and local community support services to maximize uptake.  The aim of these collaborations is to offer young women opportunities to express themselves in lyrics and music, to give voice and agency to their stories, to provide positive activities and to build their self-esteem.   This program aims to reduce their engagement in risk taking behaviours. Health Rocks is being delivered at the local high school and also after hours, on weekends and during the holidays at our newly formed shop front “Creativity Hub” (which will be officially launched Dec 21, 2015). To date seven original songs have been created and recorded by ten young women in the school program that commenced in Sept 2015.

‘Dying Well’ – The use of live music (which includes active participation and music for comfort) and collaborative songwriting to care for people who are terminally ill and to also support their families. This component is being delivered on the ward at Lithgow Base Hospital and also in peoples’ homes in partnership with palliative care nurses and doctors (many of whom are musicians as well).

‘Music and Wellbeing one day festival/event’- This celebration day has grown out of the community’s desire to acknowledge existing music groups, e.g. The Lithgow Brass Band and the music groups run from the local Conservatorium along with the newly formed music communities through the two pilot programs. This community celebration will acknowledge the resilience of Lithgow residents and the role of music to nurture strength, connect people and support individual and community health.

In line with our goals and strategies all three components are linked with ethics submissions and research designs that measure the impact on the programs on the participants’ quality of life, resilience, community and cultural connectedness, and wellbeing. *All partners are committed to this project continuing and funding is being secured so the program can be ongoing.

Project Partners: 

Westfund, Lithgow High School, Lithgow Hospital and University of Notre Dame.

Project Team: 
  • Dr. Emma O’Brien PhD - specialist in collaborative songwriting, music in health leader, music therapist and researcher.
  • Maz McGann - CACD Practitioner and ICH Sector Development Liaison Director.
  • Stephan Skov - Sound engineer, singer songwriter and music therapist.
  • Frank Marcy - Community Engagement Manager, Westfund.
  • Female support worker and co facilitator (commencing Jan 2016).
  • Musicians and performers of the Lithgow Community.