With One Voice Altona Meadows
30 September 2014

With One Voice Altona Meadows

An innovative community choir in Melbourne’s western suburbs is bringing people together through the power of song.

With One Voice, based at Benetas St George’s in Altona Meadows, gives community members, staff, families and volunteers the opportunity to join residents to sing together at the weekly group.

Based on research identifying the physiological and social benefits of singing, the group aims to improve the health and wellbeing of residents, while providing an opportunity for intergenerational activity and challenging perceptions about residential care.

Run in partnership between Benetas and Creativity Australia, a not-for-profit organisation which runs community choirs across Australia, the choir kicked off in February this year. The first community choir of its kind to be hosted by an aged care facility, weekly rehearsals saw the group grow and culminated in the group’s first concert in late April.

Benetas St George’s Community Coordinator Eleanor Naldoza said the choir has had a significant impact on the residents of the facility.

“It’s not uncommon to walk around the facility and hear residents singing the choir songs, even on days when there are no rehearsals,” said Mrs Naldoza. “We have noticed a huge improvement in the moods of many of our residents who participate in the choir, and they very much look forward to rehearsal days.”

The choir has also provided an opportunity for many residents to connect with their families on an enjoyable, activity-based level.

“We see many family members come and join in,” said Mrs Naldoza. “Sometimes the sons and daughters look like they are having as much fun as the residents!”

Led by professional conductor Kym Dillon, the With One Voice choir specialises in classics to the hits of today, with group members able to request their favourites. Generally, the group averages 20 members.

“We’re always on the look-out for more members,” said Mrs Naldoza. “We’d love to get to 60!”

Participation is free for Benetas residents and their families, and by tax deductible donation for the wider community. Light refreshments are provided at the end of each session. For more information about With One Voice Altona Meadows, please visit www.benetas.com.au/withonevoice or call (03) 8679 6088. Rehearsals are held on Tuesdays 6-7pm and no experience is necessary.