Helen Macpherson Smith Trust

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Case Study: Somebody’s Daughter Theatre

ProjectThe vulnerable child – Greater Geelong and beyond

Amount $90,000 over 3 years


ProgramPast Programs | Arts and Culture

This grant was approved under our previous grants policy (Jan 2014 – March 2017)
Rural and regional Victoria Help vulnerable young people in the Geelong area improve their future through intensive workshop programs.
Building capacity Increase the skills and capacity of organisations to implement new strategies that assist these young people.
Extending opportunity Assist the target group to develop new life skills, create change and reconnect into education and community.
Collaboration and partnership Partnerships with MacKillop Family Services, Glastonbury Community Services, Greater Geelong Drug and Alcohol and Community Development.

This project meets HMSTrust’s focus areas of fostering creativity to enrich lives, strengthening collective capacity and building collaborative cultural networks.

Somebody’s Daughter Theatre Company (SDTC) has more than 30 years’ experience of achieving transformational outcomes with vulnerable young people by using theatre as a medium. SDTC sought funding for a three-year program that will implement components of its successful HighWater Theatre in the Greater Geelong area, where it will work with the education, health and community sectors. The program will enhance existing work with young people who have mental health issues as a result of abuse and trauma in childhood, and who have disconnected from the community and education.

Image Young actors deliver a HighWater production with heads held high.

A key to SDTC’s success is its HighWater Theatre, a creative education program for young people who are outside the mainstream school system. HighWater Theatre has successfully re-engaged rural teenagers in education and the community, and will undertake a short-term residency in Geelong.

The group will perform and run workshops, allowing SDTC to begin discussions, build engagement and demonstrate the effectiveness of the program to the education, health and community sectors.

Project aims

These will include:

  • 65 young people referred by services and schools become involved in creative workshops, performance and resource development, supported by health workers and others.
  • 75 regular and demanding workshops focusing on young people’s skill development led by SDTC artists.
  • 23 intensive workshops for care workers, focusing on their needs and the local community, and establishing sustainable structures.
  • 4 forums with agencies and stakeholders to assess and evolve the program.
  • 1400 students and 460 teachers/care and community workers involved in workshops.
  • 5 small performances and one major performance devised by young people, care workers and the community.

After a HighWater performance, a manager from a health service provider commented to SDTC’s CEO/Artistic Director, Maud Clark: “What came to me most was that your HighWater young people have got their heads held up – they can see the horizon. Our kids can’t do that… ”


“It is exciting that through the investment of Helen Macpherson Smith Trust, Somebody’s Daughter Theatre is able to partner with like-minded agencies in Greater Geelong area to create more opportunities for the community’s most vulnerable,” Ms Clark says.