Abbotsford woman and Opera singer Tania de Jong founded The Song Room and has been crowned Australia’s Social Entrepreneur of the Year for her efforts. Given that we also boast the latest Metropolitan Local Hero Award in the Australian of the Year Awards, it suggests that we Abbotrigines are good folk. Schooled in Waco, Texas on a tennis scholarship, and subsequently in law at Melbourne University, she does not have the typical background of an opera singer. The Song Room’s website says:
“The Song Room is a not-for-profit organisation dedicated to providing music and arts programs in Australian schools and communities. So far, The Song Room has provided the gift of music and performing arts to over 50,000 students, and continues to develop innovative new programs to suit a wide range of communities.
Recent Australian research showed that as few as 23% of government school students have access to music at school. Our vision is that all Australian children and communities will have access to music and performing arts programs; a vision that is supported by a recent national survey that found 87% of respondents believe that every Australian child should have the opportunity to study music in school.
Worldwide research has indicated that children benefit greatly from having music and arts as part of their learning experience. Wide-ranging positive educational and personal outcomes can be achieved with long-lasting outcomes including improved self-esteem, teamwork, academic results and communication skills, thereby greatly improving their future opportunities and contributions. Participation in music and arts has been shown to prevent some young people from going down the precipice of drugs, crime, depression and unemployment.
Inspired by the identification of this significant gap in opportunities for many young Australians, The Song Room was founded by opera singer Tania de Jong in 1999, to provide access to creative learning experiences for less advantaged children and their communities.”