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On the darkest night you are my light
Hold to pull me up, you are my world, my everything
Because of you I can be a better man

~ from 'Because of Her I Can' by Adam, Balund-a 


Unlocked is an innovative creative literacy program developed by Red Room Poetry in collaboration with poets, musicians, artists and educational staff from NSW Correctional Centres. The program unlocks the potential of inmates through the reflective and healing power of poetry, encouraging self-expression and the sharing of personal stories to reconnect with their families and communities.

The poetry workshops focus on creative writing with other creative arts, including visual, music composition and recording, performing and publishing of poetry in meaningful ways. Since 2010, Unlocked has worked with over 250 inmates. 

'Seeing the residents engage in the programs is great; they all usually stand back, for feelings of shame, but when one is engaged, it just flows on. It was great to see them volunteer for dancing; as this requires confidence in themselves and also feeling safe to step out and do this. As for the poems, they were also great, as it comes from what they’ve been through themselves, and it’s their interpretation of their lives.'

~ Michael C, Balund-a Program Support, Corrective Services NSW

 Read the Unlocked Creative Literacy Program Report


Unlocked in 2018

In August, Red Room Poetry returned to Balund-a for another installment of Unlocked. Participants at Balund-a Diversionary Program (Tabulam) created poetry, music and art guided by Murri poet Lionel Fogarty and musician Joe Geia with support from Elder and language Custodian, Lewis Walker. After three days of workshops, local community and families joined in for a culminating celebratory performance of poetic, musical and artistic achievements of the participants.


Youth Unlocked

Youth Unlocked collaborates with students, teachers and educational communities in Behavioural Intervention Centres and Juvenile Justice Centres, to deepen encounters with poetry, encouraging self-expression that helps people share their stories to reconnect with families and communities. 

Youth Unlocked has successfully delivered workshops in Shepherds Park Juvenile Justice Centre with support from Wagga Wagga Council and at Green Square Behavioural School with performances at MIRVAC’s Social Corner in inner Sydney.


Positive impact

This creative education program works to enhance literacy and expression in its many forms. Through conversations with staff, facilitators and the participating residents in the weeks following, it has been noted that as a result of the Unlocked Poetry Project the residents engage with increased self-confidence, increased self-worth, improved communication skills and a revived passion towards the Arts as an outlet for dealing with emotion.   We look forward to future visits … adding to the holistic approach to breaking the cycle of offending.

~ Rachel Soliman, Operations Manager, Balund-a & Richard Heycock

There are three things that I love: Poetry, music and art so this saves me.

~ Andrew, Balund-a participant


Support Unlocked

Unlocked is made possible with support from the Oranges & Sardines Foundation.