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If my hand had fallen into yours earlier, I might still be holding you
I'll always remember what you told me:
In order to build a castle, learn how to build a house first.

~ from 'The Pieces', group poem by John Morony students


Unlocked is an innovative creative literacy program developed and run by Red Room Poetry in collaboration with poets 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 that helps people write and share their stories to reconnect with their families and communities. Since 2010, Unlocked has worked with over 250 inmates. The intensive writing workshops cover every stage of the writing process, from the initial exercises and experimentations, through the editing and rewriting process, to recording, performing and publishing their work in meaningful ways.

“The Unlocked program...was inspiring for them learning how to put their feelings into words and song. Everything was from the heart - the words put into the poems came directly from the heart and it will be remembered for the rest of their lives.”  Chris Walker, Bundjalung Elder and Balund-a mentor, 2016

Read the Unlocked Report


Unlocked 2018

This 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. The workshops ran for three days, culminating in a community event on the fourth day where the local community were invited to join the celebrating of poetic, musical and artistic achievements of the participants.


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, General Manager, Balund-a

"Their words revealed their humanity and gave me a window through which I could understand and engage them at a much deeper level. Seeing the world through their poems has opened the door to a much richer and more meaningful dialogue with each of them allowing for positive changes - a reframing of self - to take place in their lives.” ~ Tim Wilson, Compulsory Drug Treatment Correctional Centre


Support Unlocked

Buy an anthology

Make a donation Donations of $2 or more to The Red Room Company in Australia are tax deductible for Australian tax-payers.


Unlocked is possible through support from Create NSW, Australia Council for the Arts annd Geoff Ainsworth AM and Johanna Featherstone.