A Program Co-designed with Aboriginal Stakeholders

DRUMBEAT, the world’s leading evidence-based therapeutic drumming program, has been achieving remarkable social outcomes across Australia and around the world. We have expanded this innovative program significantly by training professionals from other organisations to become Facilitators. This has resulted in a global community of over 7,000 Facilitators… and growing!

We are now co-designing a customised Indigenous DRUMBEAT Program with a wide range of Aboriginal stakeholders, thanks to funding from Healthway WA. Please scroll down this web page for more details about this exciting program.

click here to get your copy of the facilitator manual

True to the essence of this unique program, the logo has been designed by an Indigenous person. Gemma Reardon is a proud Whadjuk, Yued Noongar woman with roots to her Grandmother’s people, the Yawuru People of the Kimberley. She belongs to the Ryder Family from the Wheatbelt Town of Northam. The circle in the logo represents a drum and the dots represent the many connections created by the rhythms.

In August 2021, we established consultation groups in Halls Creek in the Kimberley as the pilot location of Phase 2 of the Indigenous DRUMBEAT Project.

It’s been great working with so many local people to implement Indigenous DRUMBEAT in town. Seven organisations participated in the Community Working Group 2 and Cultural Reference Group 2 consultations this week. The aim was to review the training manual for its suitability and to ensure cultural appropriateness for local delivery.

Thank you to the all the staff who participated from Yura Yungi Medical Service, Halls Creek District High School, Wunan, Warlawurra Catholic School, Education Department, Clontarf and Shooting Stars Academies. Special acknowledgment to Yura Yungi for hosting us. Some of the participants are in the photo.

Staff resourcing is one of the biggest challenges for all service providers in this area. Holyoake is incredibly grateful to everyone involved for giving their most valuable resource of time to contribute to the development of project materials and to ensure they meet local needs and cultural standards. We are in awe of the dedication, determination and collaborative focus of service providers to make this happen, and the individual commitment to providing quality services locally despite the challenges.

Our goal now is to incorporate all the ideas and suggestions for improving the Indigenous DRUMBEAT Training Program and get the Phase 2 training manual ready for the September facilitator training and pilot programs to begin in Term 4.

We are looking forward to training another team of passionate local people to become Indigenous DRUMBEAT Facilitators and to provide mentoring and support for the local pilot program deliveries to their local community members.


In January 2020, we established the Phase 1 Cultural Reference Group with Aboriginal representatives from agencies involved in this project, to develop cultural element of the customisation. This group agreed on key principles to protect the integrity and Aboriginal ownership of the project and to promote the capacity building and sustainability through the region for the long term.

In August 2021, we established the Phase 2 Cultural Reference Group in Halls Creek. This group vetted the cultural materials to ensure the program was suitable for local delivery. They also reviewed and added to the Cultural Protocols for Indigenous DRUMBEAT. Click here for more details.

The Phase 1 and Phase 2 Cultural Reference Groups from the West Kimberley and East Kimberley respectively, now form a Cultural Reference Group across the Kimberley, to collectively provide advice and feedback about program materials.

Holyoake would like to acknowledge the dedication and support from the Cultural Reference Group members who have provided input, from the following organisations:

Men’s Outreach Service Aboriginal Corporation • Change Em Ways

Milliya Rumurra Aboriginal Corporation Residential Rehabilitation

Kimberley Aboriginal Medical Service • Kimberley Mental Health and Drug Service

Youth Justice/Department of Corrective Services • Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service

Anglicare Derby • Yura Yungi Medical Service

Halls Creek District High School • Warlawurru Catholic School

Indigenous DRUMBEAT Program Stakeholders

Boab Health • Aarnja • Broome Recovery Centre • Kimberley Mental Health and Drug Service Team (KMHDS)
Marnja Jarndu (Women’s Shelter) • KAMSC –  Kimberley Aboriginal Medical Service
Department of Health • Department of Justice – West Kimberley Regional Youth Justice
Department of Communities • Shire of Broome
Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS) • Agunya
Broome Men’s Outreach – Change ’em Ways Team • Cyrenian House
Anglicare • Broome Circle House • Milliya Rumurra Alcohol & Drug Rehabilitation Centre
Headspace • Broome Regional Prison • West Kimberley Regional Prison
St Mary’s College • Derby Youth Centre
University of Western Australia

Music has been an intrinsic aspect of Aboriginal culture for centuries.

Music has always been a powerful way to communicate meaningfully and to bring people together to address issues. While the DRUMBEAT community includes many Aboriginal Facilitators, we identified the need to develop a customised program that would be culturally sensitive and carefully adapted for indigenous communities.

In 2019, Healthway WA accepted our proposal to develop a customised Indigenous DRUMBEAT Program that would be co-designed with Aboriginal stakeholders. This project is now underway and progressing rapidly.

We are working with the Kimberley Child Safety Directors Group (CSDG) as a Project Management Committee across the Kimberley. We aim to provide overall project guidance and will provide regular updates in person in Broome and via video links to the group in other locations.

Our Community Working Group (CWG1) for the Broome and Derby pilots had 3 consultations between March and August 2020 – before COVID-19 border restrictions interrupted this process. The next round of consultations in October 2020 will involve 15 local service providers in the program development process.

Consultations external to the CWG1 have been held with:

The DRUMBEAT team and trainers to gain their advice about customising the program. These trainers have delivered
DRUMBEAT in Indigenous contexts and with Aboriginal people around Australia.

DRUMBEAT trained facilitators in the Kimberley that deliver to groups of Aboriginal young people.

DRUMBEAT facilitators around Australia who deliver in an Indigenous context.

Cultural Reference Group

We have established a Cultural Reference Group with Aboriginal representatives from agencies involved in this project. The first meeting was held on January 29, 2020 to develop cultural elements of the customisation. This group agreed on key principles to protect the integrity and Aboriginal ownership of the project and to promote capacity building and sustainability through the region for the long term. The 2 key principles are:

1. The trained program facilitators are required to self-determine the cultural protocols for their own communities – relying on their own spiritual guidance and accepting guidance relevant to elders and community members from that country where Indigenous DRUMBEAT is being delivered, as they deem appropriate.

2. The primary facilitator of Indigenous DRUMBEAT must be Indigenous. The co-facilitator can be non-Indigenous but cannot lead cultural discussions. This has been discussed with several key stakeholders with 100% support. This is intended to protect the cultural integrity of the program – being an Indigenous healing program for Aboriginal people, co-designed and delivered by Aboriginal people within their local communities.

We are very pleased that service providers participating in the CWG1 are very keen to deliver pilots in both Broome and Derby. Most of them would like to integrate the Indigenous DRUMBEAT Program into their ongoing service delivery.

In a positive development, we have revised our initial plan to send Aboriginal staff from one or two agencies down to Perth to be trained and return to Broome or Derby. We will now send a DRUMBEAT Master Trainer to Broome to train staff of organisations intending to deliver pilot programs. As a result, many more staff will have the opportunity to be trained and this strengthens the sustainability and capacity building aspects of this project.

Phase 1 Pilot Programs

We are currently working with the following service providers to deliver Phase 1 pilot programs in Broome and Derby:

St Mary’s School: Children 8-12 and Youth 13-17

Youth Justice/Corrective Services: Youth 13-17

West Kimberley Regional Prison: Adult Women and Adult Men (TBC)

Broome Prison: Adult Men’s Program

Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS): Youth 13-17 (TBC)

Milliya Rumurra Aboriginal Family Residential Rehabilitation Service

Project Timeline

Due to COVID-19 restrictions, the timeline has been readjusted as follows:

Phase 1 pilots in Broome and Derby are scheduled to commence at the start of School Term 2 2020.

Phase 2 pilots are scheduled to commence at the second location in a minor regional town (TBC).

The final facilitator training program is scheduled to be delivered in Broome in March 2022.

All stakeholders involved in this project agree that it has tremendous potential to make a positive impact in Aboriginal communities.